Sauna Q&A / Jan Seepter

How to prepare for sauna and ensure a worthy experience?

03 Jun 2021

When you are in a hot steam room, the bloodstream close to the skin intensifies to produce sweat that keeps the body temperature stable. In order that the blood circulation could support the body’s cooling processes, it would be good (strongly recommended) to not eat anything substantial at least for two hours before going to the sauna. Digestion is among the three priority functions of the body (survival, reproduction, nutrition). When you sit yourself on a sauna bench on a full stomach, your body starts a race: the blood circulation needs to choose whether to support digestion or cooling. Such a dilemma may lead to a compromise that is unsatisfactory for both parties and the sauna goer may have feelings of heaviness and spoil their entire sauna experience. However, you should not also suffer from pangs of hunger. When you stay in the sauna for long or if your blood sugar tends to drop rapidly, you should take breaks between sauna procedures and have some easily digestible snacks. Fruits and vegetables would be the best option.Also, when in sauna you should be aware of loss of fluids and to compensate it you should drink a moderate amount of liquids. Excess consumption would cause excessive sweating and loss of minerals. Alcoholic beverages are not good for the self-control needed to “dose” sauna procedures and, if consumed at all, their drinking should be reserved for the time after having a sauna.

Dosing of sauna procedures
In order for a sauna experience to be one of enjoyment and beneficial to health, you should proceed from and observe your well-being. It is the only reliable yardstick to dose all sauna procedures. Humans have strong instincts of self-preservation and when we listen to and obey our gut feelings, we are guaranteed good and beneficial sauna experiences. Thus, introducing new procedures to broaden your sauna experiences should be based on how you feel and be gradual. For instance, those whose routines do not include body-strengthening dips in icy water and/or cold showers should first try cooling down after a good steaming session in the sauna with cool (ca 16–19 ⁰C) water. After you’ve grown accustomed to bathing in cold water, you may start lowering the temperature of the cooling water, if you wish, or even contemplate diving into a pit of ice and rolling in snow.

The functions of body in sauna compensating for the alternation of cold and hot are comparable to an average training load. But even when exercising, you do not start with rapid spurts or heavy weights. Thus, it is only sensible to warm up before whisking or a serious heat session. To this end, you may want to sit/lie in the steam room, refraining from throwing too much water on the stones, and wait until you start sweating more profusely or your gut tells you to take a break and cool down a bit.
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