One of the downsides of staying on top of your personal fitness regime is that sore muscles can often be an unwelcome distraction that can plague the days after a physical session with unwanted pain and tightness.
There is, however, a better way to help your body heal its sore muscles and accelerate your recovery - and it’s arguably the most relaxing and comfortable way to do it. Saunas, in particular, infrared saunas have been proven to be beneficial when it comes to helping your sore muscles heal, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today.
In previous blog posts, we’ve covered how saunas can be a great treatment for acne, a way of detoxifying your body, burning through calories, and fortifying your lymphatic system to help your body fight pathogens with a strengthened immune system.
These health benefits have been backed up with peer-reviewed medical studies, and illustrate the many ways you can treat injuries and diseases with the use of an infrared sauna.
Today we’re going to be focusing on the topic of sore muscles, and how you can treat your sore muscles in comfort and style with the use of an infrared sauna.
The health benefits of infrared saunas reach far and wide, but first, let’s first discuss what a sauna does to our muscles, and how they help to repair sore, tired muscles in a short period of time.
What Does A Sauna Do To Your Muscles?
If you’ve wrapped up a strenuous workout and your muscles are feeling sore, stepping inside an infrared sauna can be one of the best ways to relieve the pain and tightness of sore muscles.
A study from Clinical Rheumatology found that saunas helped to increase blood flow and relieve tension in the joints and sore muscles of those living with chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis over a four-week period.
This pain relief is largely driven by the dilation of your blood vessels, as well as the increased rate in which your body pumps blood as your cardiovascular and lymphatic system are both prompted to accelerate inside the sauna.
The exposure to heat, be it with a traditional or infrared sauna provides relief for muscle tension during recovery, and helps provide it with the conditions and nutrients needed for an accelerated recovery phase. Dr Rhonda Perciavalle-Patrick, Ph.D. says that boosting your body’s heat-shock protein levels “is a clear win in the injury and recovery department.”
Do Saunas Help With Sore Muscles?
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Saunas, particularly infrared saunas are extremely helpful at tackling the aches and pains of sore muscles after a workout.
This is due to the fact that inside an infrared sauna, the increased blood circulation helps to carry off the metabolic waste products your body built up during exercise.
This increased circulation of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood helps your body recover its oxygen-depleted muscle tissues, and helps to accelerate how quickly you repair those tired, aching muscles.
Muscles relax best when tissues are warm, and this allows greater mobility, flexibility and range of motion from that muscle.
Far infrared heat relieves this muscle tension, which, combined with the deep heat of far infrared light inside the sauna, helps your body’s peripheral blood vessels dilate.
This in turn relieves the majority of the pain associated with sore muscles, as the tissue ditches the post-workout waste products and is replenished by fresh blood, nutrients and is energised by a higher operating temperature which lowers pressure in the muscle tissue.
It’s worth noting that infrared energy also helps to reduce soreness within and between nerve endings, which helps in combating the symptoms of muscle spasms while the joints and connecting fibres become warm and energised from the infrared light.
How Long Does It Take For A Muscle To Recover In A Sauna?
While exercising, your body breaks down muscle fibres that rebuild themselves in the 24-48 hour period after a workout.
The process of your muscles rebuilding the tissue that was broken down during the workout is what causes the majority of muscle pain, with a few exceptions.
Overall, though, the tightness and aches you’re experiencing are most likely due to recovering muscle tissues, which can be effectively treated with an infrared sauna.
The process of muscle recovery inside a sauna is less dependent on how long you sit inside compared to how well hydrated your body is and how much stretching you do pre-and-post session. For users that are new to the sauna world, we recommend spending anywhere between 15-20 minutes inside, while monitoring how you’re feeling and stepping outside if you experience any discomfort.
For the more experienced users, you can stretch these out into 30-45 minutes to give your body the optimal chance at recovering its tired, strained and sore muscles.
How To Treat Muscles With Sauna Protocol
- Ensure that you’re well-hydrated and feeling fit and healthy before entering the sauna
- Spend 15-minutes before your session stretching
- Enter the sauna
- Depending on the type of sauna you’re using, try to stretch your muscles inside the sauna
- For beginners, spend 15-20 minutes inside; for experienced users, spend 30-45 minutes inside the sauna
- Exit the sauna and spend at least 10-minutes stretching before you take a shower
Is A Sauna Or Steam Room Better For Sore Muscles?
Due to the unique way in which infrared light is able to penetrate the skin, your body’s subdermal and muscle tissues benefit from the added energy wavelengths that help them to recover.
This is why infrared saunas are one of the most effective treatments for sore and aching muscles, because the energy produced is more efficiently received and utilised by our bodies, compared to a traditional sauna or a steam room.
A dry sauna or steam room are no doubt effective when it comes to producing the heat needed to stimulate the production of heat shock proteins, but they aren’t able to produce the same skin-penetrating energy that is beneficial to human health.
If you are interested in learning more about the health benefits in comparison with each other, we've written an in-depth blog titled, Difference Between Infrared Saunas vs Steam Rooms Explained.
If you're interested in an infrared sauna cabin for home, click here to view our range of full-spectrum saunas, far-infrared saunas, and outdoor saunas.
Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen.