How To Use A Sauna To Be More Flexible?

Posted on 19 June 2024

Your sauna is a flexibility hotspot that allows you to create the type of body that is good at bending without breaking. Saunas, widely recognized as one of the best ways to relax tired muscles, rival having an at-home trainer thanks to their ability to enhance your flexibility. This is because regular sauna sessions can help improve muscle elasticity and overall range of motion. It’s one of the reasons research found that practices like Bikram yoga, yoga done in 105°F heat, can drastically expand the entire body’s range of motion, improve balance, and even make bones stronger. Stretching in a heating environment relaxes your muscles and increases blood circulation, reducing the risk of injuries and helping your muscles to recover faster. Whether you’re an athlete, desk jockey, or just suffering from everyday tech-neck, the sauna can help lower pain and enhance flexibility, particularly high-end outdoor saunas and custom sauna kit models crafted by SaunaFin.   

The Science Behind Heat Therapy and Muscle Flexibility

Saunas might melt away tension from a stressful day, but a growing body of new research proves they might be just as powerful at sizzling off physical tension. For instance, a randomized controlled trial in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that sauna yoga increased the flexibility of participants, showing substantial improvement in the chair sit-and-reach test, showing enhanced flexibility without significantly affecting shoulder and lateral spine flexibility. With the saunas in the study set to a relatively mild 122°F, it still led to an increased body temperature, which significantly improved the elasticity of the hamstring muscles more effectively than traditional stretching alone. This finding underscores the sauna's role in promoting flexibility by making stiff muscles more pliable and less prone to strains. That is your cue to apply this hot science to your next cooldown to enjoy new levels of flexibility.  

How Sauna Creates Flexibility

Expanding the role of the sauna in your flexibility training is about more than just passive heating; it actively engages your body’s natural response to the heat. During a sauna session, the heat stress triggers a physiological response where your body releases heat shock proteins. These proteins are crucial in cellular repair and help improve the tissue elasticity around your muscles and joints. You can strategically use this biological response to enhance your flexibility by timing your stretches to coincide with when these proteins are most active—during or right after a sauna session. The heat softens your muscles and connective tissues, making them more amenable to stretching, decreasing the thickness of joint fluids, and enhancing joint mobility. By incorporating targeted stretches immediately after your sauna session, you can take advantage of this peak state of muscle and tissue plasticity, pushing your flexibility further in the safest way possible.

Is Infrared Better Than Regular Sauna for Flexibility? 

Is infrared better than a regular sauna at creating flexibility? It’s not a clear answer. Infrared saunas, which use wavelengths of light to heat the body directly, are gaining popularity for their unique approach to total body wellness. Unlike traditional saunas that heat the air around you, infrared saunas penetrate deeper into your skin, directly warming your muscles and tissues. This direct heat method may be more effective at improving flexibility as it allows for a deeper and more uniform heat penetration, leading to greater muscle relaxation and less time needed to achieve the same level of suppleness. One report found that stretching while in an infrared sauna, compared to doing the same stretches outside the sauna, created a 205% increase in flexibility. Researchers have not yet directly compared the two sauna methods, but it seems that infrared may penetrate deeper into your muscles and create more opportunities for flexibility. 

How To Use The Sauna To Be More Flexible 

You can just touch your toes while in the sauna, but you can use these tweaks to gain maximum flexibility. 

  • Take pre-sauna hydration seriously: Drink at least 500ml of water before your sauna because your joints and muscles can’t expand or contract properly if you’re dehydrated.
  • Warm-up before stretching: Ideally, you’d want to walk for 5 minutes before stretching in the sauna to prepare your muscles.
  • Start with static progress to dynamic stretches: Once warmed up, do dynamic stretches where you bounce slightly to go deeper into the stretches. 
  • Keep duration short to start: Start with shorter stretch sessions (10-15 minutes) and gradually increase as you acclimate to stretching in the heat. 
  • Simplicity is the goal: Steer clear of strenuous stretches or complicated yoga poses while you’re sweaty and hot, or you risk injury. 

SaunaFin Amplifies Your Flexibility

If you’re stuck with an inflexible muscle group or have a niggling injury and regular stretching isn’t hitting the spot, sauna stretches are unquestionably the next step in your flexibility progression. Regularly including sauna sessions in your fitness regimen will improve muscle elasticity, enhance joint mobility, reduce injury risk, and improve overall physical health. By fostering an environment of warmth and relaxation, SaunaFin’s saunas tap into your body’s desire to expand, offering a natural, effective flexibility tool in your home that the whole family can enjoy. The home sauna options available allow you to create the ultimate sauna retreat that’s customized to your unique stretching routine. Thanks to the gentle embrace of a SaunaFin sauna, you can adjust all the heat and humidity settings you need to create a relaxing sauna environment that delivers real-world benefits to your flexibility and well-being. 

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