Should You Use an Infrared Sauna Before or After a Workout?

Woman relaxing in an infrared sauna

Who wouldn't want to discover how to make their workouts more effective? From the best exercises to the fastest ways to "turn on" muscles, we want to ensure we get the most value out of hours of sweat and, sometimes, even tears, from our regular fitness routines. And if you're familiar with the effects of infrared sauna in boosting health and performance, you may want to know the optimal time to use it when exercising.

So, in today's post, we will answer one of the most frequently asked questions about this innovative wellness tool: "Should you use an infrared sauna before or after a workout?"

The Infrared Sauna Difference

Infrared saunas are becoming increasingly popular in physical therapy, health spas, and even in medical settings. But how is it different from traditional saunas? Aren't they all the same? Before we dive into whether one should use it before or after a workout, let's first talk about what an infrared sauna is.

Infrared sauna taps the power of infrared light to create healing heat. This infrared radiation is unlike most types of light on the electromagnetic spectrum because it is invisible to the naked eye. But this doesn't mean it isn't potent. Its low-frequency wavelengths are longer than visible light and, therefore, can reach deep into the cellular level. These mimic the restorative powers of the sun without any of the damage from U.V. rays. As a result, your cells and tissues receive the energy they need to ramp up their repair-and-rejuvenate functions.

In contrast, traditional saunas (Finnish saunas) are powered up by dry heat. This dry heat raises the temperature of the air, making this type of sauna experience intolerable for many people. However, infrared saunas do not use dry heat. Instead, these directly warm the body through infrared lamps or panels without heating up the surrounding air. As a result, they provide a more pleasurable option for those who want to break a sweat in comfort. 

Also, Finnish saunas take longer, at 45 to 60 minutes, to reach optimum temperature levels. And if you're like most individuals who want to be healthy and productive, that's probably more time than you're willing to give up. But with infrared sauna treatments, it only takes about 15 minutes for the device to warm up, and you're good to go.

Is an infrared sauna better before or after a workout? 

So, should you use an infrared sauna before or after a workout? Although pre- and post-exercise infrared sauna sessions can both do wonders for the body, there are several reasons in favor of the latter. Post-workout infrared sauna sessions can:

1. Soothe body aches and pains

When we exercise, our muscles need to work harder, particularly if the activity is strenuous. The physical strain can create minor tearing in the muscle fibers. Upon detecting the damage, our immune system's first responders scramble to fix it by triggering inflammation. This reaction helps protect the body from undesired elements, such as injured cells, toxins, and disease-causing microbes. The coupling of muscular damage and inflammatory response is believed to trigger the muscle soreness that often comes after a fitness routine.

Here is where infrared sauna benefits for athletes, fitness buffs, and anyone interested in health hacks can make a difference. For instance, one study shows that individuals who underwent an infrared sauna treatment after their strength and endurance training experienced relief from pain and muscle soreness. Yet another finding points to the deep penetration of infrared heat (about 3 to 4 centimeters into our fat tissues, muscles, and nerves) that effectively enhances recovery and triggers muscular growth and repair.

A man wiping his sweaty face with a white towel

2. Help minimize the effects of dehydration on exercise

Post-workout sauna benefits for athletes also include boosting training performance. As any sportsperson knows, this is necessary to build strength, endurance, and skills. In addition, regular training helps improve muscle tone, agility, and flexibility, which are crucial in achieving higher performance and winning competitions.

According to Heather A. Milton, M.S., R.C.E.P., C.S.C.S., a board-certified clinical exercise physiologist at the N.Y.U. Langone Health's Sports Performance Center, squeezing in a sauna session before exercising can be risky. During workouts, you usually sweat out a lot. Now, when you subject yourself to a sauna bath before getting into your physical routine, you're allowing your body to get into a less-hydrated state. This means you'll be starting your workout already dehydrated. Your body won't be able to regulate heat properly, leading to an increased temperature and a faster heart rate. As a result, dehydration can tire you out and make it harder for you to train well. So, to maximize your exercise performance, you may want to defer indulging in an infrared sauna treatment until you've pumped enough iron or done your requisite sets of landmines and box jumps. 

3. Enable better exercise performance in athletes

Initial findings point to the powerful capability of post-workout saunas in boosting exercise performance. The results from two trials show an increase in plasma volumes (the liquid part of the blood) in athletes who took sauna baths after each daily workout. Also called hypervolemia, this effect has several benefits for the athletes who participated in the experiments:

  • When plasma levels expand, the boost in blood flow results in the enhanced delivery of fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
  • Hypervolaemia also increases the stroke volume or the volume of blood expelled by the heart every time it beats. Current findings indicate that increasing the stroke volume for a given heart rate in athletes may lead to better performance and work output.
  • Enhanced plasma volumes also boost blood flow to the skin, which improves the body's ability to regulate and maintain the ideal internal temperature. This is especially crucial after exercising when we need to cool down, creating the stable environment our organs and body processes require to function correctly.

While the sauna benefits for athletes are numerous, post-workout infrared saunas are also advantageous and generally safe for most people. If you're considering infrared saunas to get the most out of your fitness routines or enhance your exercise performance, first consult your doctor to clear out any health risks.

Revving up your post-workout sauna benefits with HigherDOSE Infrared Sauna 

It’s important to note that the effects of your post-exercise infrared sauna are only as good as your health and wellness provider. If you want to ensure optimal results, only trust HigherDOSE. We are all about making the best biohacking technologies easy and accessible. All our Infrared, P.E.M.F., and Red Light devices elevate your health and beauty rituals. At the same time, our collection of topicals and ingestibles boosts their benefits so you feel more rejuvenated, refreshed, grounded, and glowing. 

For instance, the HigherDOSE Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna boasts three sets of infrared waves:

  • Near-infrared light penetrates the epidermis and boosts immunity.
  • Mid-infrared light complements the benefits of near-infrared light by increasing circulation and blood flow.
  • Far-infrared light deeply penetrates the core and releases deep metals for the ultimate detox.

So step into the High Life today with wellness devices and products only from HigherDOSE. Check out the HigherDOSE shop today.

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