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Take a sauna correctly: Avoid these 8 sauna mistakes



  • Does sauna really help against sore muscles?
  • Sauna sessions do not shorten the regeneration time
  • Sweating out colds is taboo
  • 8 sauna mistakes you should definitely avoid
  • How many sauna sessions do I need and how long should I stay in it?
  • This is how you find the right place in the sauna
  • What temperature can people endure in a sauna?

Those who sweat regularly on a wooden bench are less likely to get colds. According to a Finnish study, just one sauna session per week has a positive effect on the immune system. Of course, you can also go to the sauna more often – for example after exercise to promote the regeneration of your muscles. Heat stimulates blood circulation in the muscles and relieves tension.

Does sauna really help against sore muscles?

In the heat, the blood vessels dilate, blood pressure drops and the heart rate ultimately increases sharply. The body’s cooling mechanism is activated: we sweat. Did you know that you release up to a liter of sweat per hour in the sauna? That’s why drinking afterwards is so important.

But it’s not just the increased heart rate and the sweating itself that train the cardiovascular system, but above all the cooling down afterwards: in the cold shower or in the ice pool, the dilated blood vessels contract again very quickly and the whole body is armed against temperature differences and wonderfully bleeds through. Metabolic breakdown products, such as lactate, are transported away particularly quickly and thoroughly. That’s why a visit to the sauna is also recommended against sore muscles: According to the Ärzte-Zeitung, taking a sauna can prevent or at least alleviate this. This helps against sore muscles.

Sauna sessions do not shorten the regeneration time

Anyone who thinks that this will allow them to start training again more quickly is wrong: sauna sessions are no substitute for a break from training. Especially after strength training, the stressed muscles need around 48 hours of regeneration time, depending on the intensity of the training.

As an ambitious athlete, it is better to plan your visit to the sauna on rest days or after more relaxed training sessions, because the body primarily needs rest after an intensive workout. The sauna is also not the right place before a competition: your organism may not be able to completely compensate for the loss of water and electrolytes overnight and your performance will suffer the following day.

By the way, taking a sauna does not accelerate fat burning or muscle building, as many people think. At least there are no studies that support these theses.

Sweating out colds is taboo

Taking a sauna puts a strain on the cardiovascular system and is therefore not automatically healthy for everyone and carries some risks if you don’t do it correctly or go into the sweat booth feeling weak. It is a misconception that sauna sessions can ward off an impending cold in time or help you “sweat it out” more quickly.

It is true that regular saunas can strengthen the immune system, but this does not apply if an infection is already developing. In this case, the heat is actually counterproductive and puts additional strain on the body. If you don’t feel fit, you should avoid the sauna not only to protect other sauna visitors, but also to avoid disrupting the body’s healing processes. It’s better to lie on the couch with hot tea and cover yourself warmly. With rest and a healthy diet you can now achieve much more.

8 sauna mistakes you should definitely avoid

If you are fit, you can do something good for your body and mind by doing nothing in the sauna, especially in winter. However, many sauna-goers make fatal or even dangerous mistakes that must be avoided at all costs in order to benefit from the sauna.

1. You take a sauna straight after your workout

Handy if your gym has a sauna. But allow 15 to 30 minutes to pass between training and the sauna. Even if you just sit or lie down: the sauna puts a strain on your heart and circulation. Therefore, only go sweating when you are well rested. We highly recommend taking a look at your sports watch: after training, your pulse should have dropped to 100 beats/minute. Otherwise the heat would be too stressful for your circulation.

2. You eat nothing at all or eat too much

Be careful, there is a risk of collapse: with an empty stomach you quickly lie under the wooden bench. However, if the stomach is too busy digesting, it withdraws a lot of blood and the strain on the circulatory system increases.

A sauna session is also dangerous after drinking alcohol: because blood pressure drops, the heart has to work even harder. In addition, the alcohol ruins the regenerative effect of the sauna. That’s why you should stick to non-alcoholic beer between sauna sessions. Like juice spritzers, this is isotonic and quickly replenishes the loss of electrolytes in the blood.

Ideal sauna time: 8 to 10 minutes for newbies, professionals can sweat 5 minutes longer

3. You jump straight from the shower into the sauna

For hygiene reasons, you naturally take a shower before the sauna. However, the heat afterwards should not replace thorough drying. If you go into the sauna wet, you reduce the effect. The reason: evaporating shower water cools the body. So you sweat less. By the way, sweating is also delayed if you go into the sauna with cold feet – in winter, a warm foot bath beforehand helps.

4. You drink between sauna sessions

Use the time between exercise and the sauna to properly hydrate your body. It’s better not to drink between sauna sessions: sweating removes water from the blood and as a result, fluid moves from the tissues into the blood. The waste products it contains are excreted via the liver and kidneys. If you grab a bottle between sauna sessions, you reduce the tissue-cleansing effect of the sweat bath and the detoxification.

However, you have to drink even more before the sauna and after the last session, otherwise you could end up with headaches and dizziness due to dehydration. Choose fruit spritzers to quickly replenish your body with minerals.

5. You fidget and chatter too much

It’s better to save gymnastic contortions or lively discussions for later: in the sauna, the oxygen concentration is reduced, movements and speaking put additional strain on your circulation and breathing. Hyperventilation cramps can also occur after breathing exercises during the cooling phase. The warning signal is tingling in the fingers.

6. You jump straight off the bench

If there is space, you are welcome to stretch out in the sauna: lying down has the advantage that the whole body is in one temperature zone and the blood can flow better than if you sat down. What you shouldn’t do, however, is get up and leave the sauna straight away. In order not to overtax your circulation, you should sit up slowly and remain seated two minutes before leaving the sauna.

7. You’re cooling down the wrong way

Please don’t just jump into the ice pool, but first shower your arms and legs with cold water, i.e. shower towards the middle of your body and not start in the heart region or with your head. This way you don’t overtax your circulation. It’s even better if you first go out into the cool, fresh air for two or three minutes and then take a cold shower.

8. You soap and apply cream after the sauna

The heat, sweat and infusions cause the skin to swell. This acts like a natural peeling because the pores open and dead skin cells become soft, so you can simply shower them off with water afterwards. By the way, sweat itself only smells unpleasant after a while, due to the bacteria on our skin that live on the fatty acids in sweat. Fresh sweat doesn’t smell bad. The sweat treatment alone works like a rejuvenation treatment, which is why you no longer need aggressive soaps, peelings and beauty products that only clog the pores again.

Instead, you should leave your skin alone afterwards; it usually feels very soft and delicate after the sauna. If you have very dry skin, you can use a fragrance-free lotion without artificial additives after sweating.

How many sauna sessions do I need and how long should I stay in it?

Ideally, you should plan two to three sauna sessions for your sauna visit. If you still feel fit afterwards, you can also take other infusions with you, but they no longer have any major health benefits – except perhaps that you can relax even more.

It’s not for nothing that most saunas have an hourglass that trickles down for up to 15 minutes. You should not stay in the heat for longer than 8 to a maximum of 15 minutes at a time, otherwise you will put too much strain on your cardiovascular system. Just as long as you sit in the sauna, you should also cool down afterwards: an ice-cold shower is just right now. Afterwards, fresh air is good for the body. As soon as you start to feel cold, you should go back inside, put on a cozy bathrobe and rest for a moment.

Many sauna goers also swear by foot baths. In some saunas you can also switch between hot and cold.

This is how you find the right place in the sauna

The top bench is only for experienced sauna goers. Because that’s where it’s hottest – up to 110 degrees. And that’s too much to begin with.

Not: Lying down is the ideal position because it allows the blood to rush through the entire body. Don’t forget to put your towel underneath; if possible, never touch the wood with your bare skin.

Below: There is certainly nothing wrong there for the beginner. In the long run, however, you can expect more than the 60 to 70 degrees that prevail there. In addition, those sitting at the bottom always block the way to the other steps. And at this point you will notice less of the rising infusion fumes.

What temperature can people endure in a sauna?

A person’s sense of heat depends heavily on the thermal conductivity of the element that surrounds them – in these cases, water or air. Water transports heat much better than air. The same temperatures are perceived to be more extreme when wet. So while 90 degree hot water hurts, the sauna is still bearable.

This fact can also be observed during infusion. By pouring water over the sauna heater, the humidity and thus the thermal conductivity of the air increases. The more humid the air, the hotter it seems – even though the temperature in the sauna actually drops due to the initially cold water.

There’s another reason why it’s easier to stay in a sauna than in almost boiling water: there are only a few places where it’s actually 90 degrees. Reason: Hot air rises. It is therefore colder and more pleasant on the lower sauna benches.

Taking a sauna trains your heart and circulation, protects you against colds and helps with regeneration after exercise. You now know how to do it correctly. So: relaxed sweating!


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