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A sauna, whether it’s an addition to your home or just a session at the spa, is not only a great way to relax, but it also provides many physical health benefits. However, in order to get the most out of your sauna and to make sure that you’re following all the important safety measures, it’s best to know how to use a sauna properly before you step inside.
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Sauna Use Precautions
Saunas are generally considered safe. However, if you have any high-risk medical conditions, you should take extra precautions or avoid using the sauna altogether. In such a case, it’s best to consult your doctor first. While some illnesses (a cold, for example) might actually benefit from a short visit to the sauna, other conditions might get worse.
So if you have any of the following, reconsider using the sauna:
- Unstable angina pectoris.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Blood pressure risks.
- Kidney disease.
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Pregnant or when trying to conceive.
- Faint easily.
- If you’re taking medications for sweat prevention.
Before Getting Into The Sauna
The extreme heat in the sauna causes the body to heavily perspire, and thus lose water. This is good as it helps to expel the toxins from your body. However, this can also cause dehydration. So remember to drink plenty of water before getting in.
Also, avoid drinking alcohol, as it dehydrates the body. If you feel hungover, it’s best to wait until it’s over.
It’s also better to wait a couple of hours before entering the sauna if you’ve just had a heavy meal.
How To Dress
Some people prefer to go totally nude in a sauna. However, you can also just cover up with a clean towel. Don’t wear any tight-fitting clothing in order to allow your skin to breathe. or clothes that are dirty. Also, don’t wear the clothing you’ve had on throughout the day. Clothes have a tendency of picking up a lot of dirt and dust. While in the sauna, the extreme heat will loosen the dirt particles and release them into the air and your skin.
Also, it’s best to shower before the sauna, so there won’t be any lotions or cleansers left on your body as they are apt to melt and drip in the sauna’s heat. Combined with your sweat, it will just create an oily mess. They will also clog up your pores, preventing your skin from breathing.
There should also be no metal on your body. So take off any jewelry or any other metal items you might have. The metal can heat up easily and then burn your skin. You don’t need to look fashionable in the sauna.
Read Directions Outside the Facility
Most safety precautions are generally universal in saunas. However, it’s still important to check the sign outside the facility to understand if they have any specific instructions.
Read the Instructions
Even though saunas work with the same concept, their instructions can slightly vary. So instead of making assumptions, read the instructions to find out any specific guidelines and warnings. If you can’t find any posted instructions in the facility, as the person in charge working there.
Choose the Right Temperature
If you’re new to using a sauna or a steam room, it’s best to start with a lower temperature. The maximum permitted temperature in Canada and the U.S. is 194 degrees. However, when using the sauna at home, you can adjust the temperature yourself. Most people prefer using the traditional sauna at temperatures around 150-175 degrees. For infrared saunas, it’s a bit lower, in the 120-120 degree range. There’s no perfect sauna temperature that is suitable for everyone. While some people like it very hot, others prefer it more moderate. So adjust it to your comfort level.
15 to 20 minutes is enough to reap all the health benefits of a sauna. If you start feeling uncomfortable, dizzy, or nauseous, you should get out immediately. Staying in the sauna for too long can be harmful. It can lead to overheating and dehydration.
You can stay longer than 20 minutes, but it’s best to go out and take a break before going back in for more time.
After the Sauna
Slowly Cool Down
After you finish your sauna session, allow your body to slowly cool down and adjust to the cooler temperature. Then take a shower. Start with a warm shower and then lower the temperature to allow your body to further cool down. Jumping into a cold shower or pool right after using the sauna can send your body into shock, which can be dangerous if you have heart problems.
Rest a Little
Having showered, find a cool place to rest for at least 10 minutes. Your body needs some time to recuperate. This will also allow your heart rate to slow down.
Rehydrate And Have a Snack
As we’ve mentioned above, your body loses a lot of water during a sauna session. So after getting out, you need to replenish it quickly. Drinking plenty of water should be part of your before and after sauna routine.