Saunas 101: What to Do Before, During and After
When used properly, saunas can bring many health benefits. In order to help you take full advantage, we’ve got guidelines for before, during and after your next sauna session.
NOTE: Certain health conditions are not compatible with saunas. If you’re considering adding the sauna to your health and wellness routine, please consult your doctor first. Don’t take a sauna if you are ill.
Your body will have a range of reactions when taking a sauna. Your pulse rate will increase. Your heart will pump more blood. There will be sweat – a pint on average. To prepare yourself for what’s to come, complete the following prior to your next sauna session.
Drink plenty of water
Because of the temperature and humidity, you will likely sweat a lot while saunaing. To avoid dehydration, drink plenty of water (at least two more glasses than usual) a few hours before entering. Proper hydration will help your pores open up and will encourage your body to sweat even more, which is exactly what you want to happen. If you exit thirsty, you likely didn’t drink enough before so you’ll want to fix that for next time.
Do not drink alcohol before. This lowers your blood pressure and could make you dizzy.
Rinse off in the shower
Take a warm shower just before your sauna session so you don’t bring any dirt in. It also helps to open your pores and relax your muscles. But remember to dry completely off to sweat more quickly.
Have two towels handy
You’ll use one during and the other upon exiting.
Remove all jewelry
This includes everything, especially necklaces, rings and earrings. The high temperature could heat the metal and burn your skin.
Leave the tech behind
Cellphones, smart watches, fitness trackers should all be left out. The warm environment can damage the hardware. Besides the point, you’re supposed to be relaxing!
With those items checked off, you will be ready to sauna. But we have a few more tips to make sure you enjoy your session to the fullest.
Start off with a short interval
For your first time taking a sauna, you won’t want to exceed 10 minutes. As you get more comfortable, you can increase the time but you should never exceed 30 minutes.
Remember, you can always take cool off breaks by stepping outside then going back inside. You should immediately leave the sauna if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous or get a headache.
Sit on a towel
You should always sit on a towel as the bench will become hot.
It may seem hard to unwind for such a short stint of time, but it’s possible. Try to breathe deeply and clear your mind of day-to-day stresses.
You took a sauna, now what? Follow these simple steps to help your body re-adjust to your core temperature after your session.
According to Finnish tradition, it’s customary to jump right into a cold lake after the sauna. If you have that at your disposal, go for it! If not, a cold shower serves as a strong substitute. The objective is to bring your body temperature down to the normal range while improving blood flow.
You can also simply step out into cooler air to help bring down your temperature slowly.
Put on loose, comfortable clothes
You may find yourself sweating even after you’ve left the sauna. It’s best to wear loose, breathable and comfortable clothing to help curb this.
Drink more water
Because of all the sweating, you lost a lot of fluids in your session. Start drinking water as soon as you’re out to rehydrate. You can also consider an electrolyte-heavy drink.
Have a snack
When your body sweats, you will likely lose some sodium in the process. Try a salty snack like pretzels or crackers and cheese to replenish.
Plan your next session
It’s recommended to wait between 30-45 minutes before entering the sauna for another session. However, if you are planning on adding a sauna to your long term wellness routine, please consult your doctor for their recommendation on how often that should occur.
We hope these guidelines will help you get the most from your sauna.