Today’s #ScienceFriday is a hot one. We took a look at the current studies on #Sauna in endurance sports:
A hot wet air bath at a temperature of approx. 80 °C – 110 °C and a humidity of approx. 10 – 20%
- 3x 8-10 min, 5 min rest in between
- Conducted following an exercise session
- Cool down slowly after the sauna to avoid circulation problems
- Rehydrate directly after the sauna session
Reaction of the cardiovascular system in the WARM-UP PHASE
- Increase of the skin temperature to 38 – 42 °C and body core temperature to > 39 °C
- The dilatation of the blood vessels (vasodilation) ensures improved blood circulation
- Increase of the cardiac output by 75 – 100 % and heart rate
- Increased perspiration leads to a reduction in plasma volume and an increase in hematocrit
- Activation of sympathetic and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis
Reaction of the cardiovascular system in the COOLING PHASE
- Skin and body core temperature are lowered (approx. 20 min. initial value reached)
- Heart rate decreases (approx. within 10 min. starting value is reached)
- Increase in arterial blood pressure (up to 200 mmHg)
- Narrowing (vasoconstriction) of the blood vessels
- Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (Gutenbrunner & Glaesener, 2017)
Current research shows
- Relief of pain syndromes (Masuda et al. 2005)
- Improved removal of metabolic products (Sutkowy et al., 2014)
- Reduction of DOMS and muscle soreness
- Improved “time to exhaustion” by 32 % (Scoon et al., 2006)
- Sauna stimulates the immune system (Pilch et al., 2013).
- Improved sleep and well-being
- Increase of heat tolerance (relevance for competitions under heat conditions)
- Has a positive effect on respiratory dysfunction, chronic rheumatic diseases and degenerative joint diseases (Kukkonen-Harjula & Kauppinen, 2006; Kukkonen-Harjula & Kauppinen, 2006).
Use with caution
A sauna session can have the same effect on the body as an additional training session since similar physiological reactions are induced. Therefore, a regenerative sauna session is best used before a rest day and should not be used before a competition.
- Kukkonen-Harjula, K., & Kauppinen, K. (2006). Health effects and risks of sauna bathing. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 65(3), 195-205.
- Pilch, W., et al. (2013). Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics, 39 (1), p. 127-135.
- Masuda, A., Koga, Y., Hattanmaru, M., Minagoe, S., & Tei, C. (2005). The effects of repeated thermal therapy for patients with chronic pain. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 74(5), 288-294.
- Sutkowy, P., Woźniak, A., Boraczyński, T., Mila-Kierzenkowska, C., & Boraczyński, M. (2014). The effect of a single Finnish sauna bath after aerobic exercise on the oxidative status in healthy men. Scandinavian journal of clinical and laboratory investigation, 74(2), 89-94.
- Gutenbrunner, C. & Glaesener, J. (2007). Rehabilitation, Physikalische Medizin und Naturheilverfahren.
- Scoon, G. S., Hopkins, W. G., Mayhew, S. &, Cotter, J. D. (2007). Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 10(4), p. 259-262.