When it comes to recovery and sore muscles, athletes get all the attention. But honestly, as living breathing people we have to do hard stuff all the time, and it's not uncommon to unload one too many bags of groceries from the car, or just wake up with a stiff neck for no apparent reason.
You know how it goes. One day you bend down to pick something off the floor and on the way back up….wham! You’ve just strained a back muscle. So now you’re walking around hunched over, frantically mulling through drawers and tossing miscellaneous items around at record speed trying to find the Advil and heating pad. And whether it’s a strained back muscle or an ankle (or a mystery muscle you didn’t even know you could strain,) the inflammation and pain kicks in, and it can be hard to know what to do for relief.
If you haven’t tried it already, the sauna is going to be your new best friend when it comes to nursing strained muscles back to health. And if you’re thinking, “how is sweating by buns off going to put my muscles back in commission?”, here are some of the benefits of sauna that will help with your muscle recovery the next time something goes out of whack.
Does sauna time really help with strained muscles?
We’re glad you asked.
The heat of a sauna helps strained muscles by increasing white blood cell flow to damaged or injured areas. A Finnish research study looked at hGH levels in 55 healthy individuals before and after a sauna session. It found that hGH levels (which help repair injured muscles,) on average, were 140% higher immediately following a sauna session than they were before a sauna session.
Now, about hGH. This naturally occurring hormone, produced by the pituitary gland, is crucial for growth, cell production, and cell regeneration. It can also help speed up muscle healing after an injury and repair muscle tissue after exercise. And although it is naturally occuring, you can take injections of it too. This is a big no-no in the sports world. You may have seen instances of athletes getting banned for taking it. But for those with a growth hormone deficiency, it's extremely useful as hGH can increase exercise capacity, bone density, and muscle mass.
Tackling inflammation with heat
Have you strained a muscle and noticed that the area immediately turns into what looks like a strawberry from all the swelling and inflammation? Well, sauna can help with that too.
The concentrated heat in a sauna stimulates circulation which helps reduce inflammation and swelling. That’s why people not only use sauna for injured muscles, but they also use sauna time as a remedy for chronic inflammation and pain too.
Increasing range of motion
If you’re feeling more tight and wound up after straining a muscle, don’t worry. It's totally normal.
Being the machine that it is, the body sends a nervous message to the muscles in the area to tighten up as a protection mechanism. This is one way your brain works to prevent you from moving to further injure the area and signals you to slow down to recover.
With an infrared sauna, in particular, the heat wavelengths penetrate deeper into the muscle tissue and allow for greater blood flow and circulation. But with any sauna session, infrared or traditional, make sure you take a good stretch after to further loosen up those muscles.
Your at-home sauna remedy
For the unexpected injuries life throws, a sauna at-home brings you comfort and benefits at your fingertips to help you on your road to recovery. Here’s a little breakdown on the different types of sauna options you can install either inside your home or right in the backyard.
A traditional Finnish sauna should be heated to at least 170 degrees, oftentimes hitting temperatures up to 190 degrees. This type of sauna is unique because you can pour water over hot rocks to release humidity. Because of the steam, traditional saunas have a humidity level between 20-40%.
Home infrared sauna
Infrared saunas run at a much lower temperature than a traditional Finnish sauna. But unlike a traditional sauna, heat penetrates the body through near and far infrared wavelengths to increase your body’s core temperature.
Wood burning sauna
A wood burning sauna stove is THE most traditional kind of sauna. It offers a relaxed atmosphere with that burning wood scent that makes you feel like you’re sitting around a fire. In this type of sauna, you can hike the temperature up above 200 degrees, but for most people, 180-190 is the sweet spot.
Muscle recovery with Sauna House
Don’t let a strained muscle get you down! Get back on your feet and doing the things you love with a visit to our aspen wood sauna, our dry cedar sauna, or our private infrared sauna. AND… drum roll please… we even have two private rooms called the Hot Cold Relax rooms available — essentially your own little private bath house spaces.
Interested in your own at-home sauna? Fill out our form here to talk to our sales manager Rory about a sauna installation.