Saunas

  • joarky123

    Posts: 264

    Oct 06, 2008 4:20 PM GMT
    Hey guys! Don't know if this is the best place to post, or if there's already another post on this, but i thought i'd try anyways.

    So there's a sauna at my gym and I've been meaning to give it a try but am not sure what to do.

    What would be your guys advice for the best use of the sauna?

    before or after workouts (or both)? for how long?

    Should you take a break every so often?

    I see guys all the time staying for like 5 minutes, then showering off a bit, then coming back again. should i do that? why do they do that?

    Let me know guys. any tips or info would be much appreciated. (especially ones that deal with being sanitary in the sauna)


    And on a side note i've seen two things that disgust me...

    1. people sitting naked on those benches and sweating their asses off. i mean come on, practice some common courtesy and sit on a towel or wear something!

    and 2. NOT USING SHOWER SANDALS!!! the last thing we need is a case of athletes foot runnin' rampant through the gym. i mean, you'd think that people would understand how unsanitary that is by now.
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    Oct 06, 2008 5:19 PM GMT
    I've always found sauna ideal after a workout. It relaxes my muscles and prevents or minimizes aches. I also find it a psychologically satisfying way to end my gym session, a little quiet time after a lot of activity.

    I've been a sauna fan for about 40 years, have used them in Europe, own books on the subject. American sauna is often a poor imitation of the original, but here's what I might suggest:

    Choose a wooden interior over tile walls when you can. Aside from being more traditional and esthetically pleasing, humidity levels tend to remain more constant with wood. Moisture condenses out of the air more quickly against tile surfaces. Tile is chosen in public saunas for ease of cleaning & maintenance, not for sauna enjoyment.

    Never wear clothing, especially shorts or swim suits with elastic waistbands. Blood circulation through the skin is restricted at points of pressure, and some people will experience a latex allergy under conditions of heat that would not otherwise bother them when wearing elasticized clothing at other times.

    Avoid co-ed saunas where you must remain dressed. Seeing other guys naked is one of the lovely perks of a traditional sauna.

    Do sit on a towel as you mention, and wear only thongs/flip-flops on your feet.

    Try to stay for at least 30 minutes. Take as many cool-down showers as you need, and then return. Don't overdo it at first, and don't stay until you're feeling light-headed. You'll become more acclimated over time.

    European saunas often have a cold plunge, or even a roll in the snow in rural areas. But in America the ordinary shower is about all we usually have. Indulge yourself for about 5 minutes under the spray. You can start lukewarm if you want, gradually cooling the water as you adjust. But you need to remove excess heat from your body so you can stay in the sauna longer.

    A temperature of around 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit is about right for most Americans; European practitioners can tolerate much higher. Remember, your best benefits are gained by a 30-minute session or more. Some guys wrongly think a fast bake at over 200 degrees for just 5 or 10 minutes is the same, but it's not. I'm sorry if their lunchtime schedules don't allow them the luxury of time, but that's not a proper heat soak, that's microwaving.

    Don't overdo the water on the rocks. Your aim is a little humidity, not to make a steamroom. I hate public saunas where guys flood the rocks and create a sudden scalding cloud of steam; that's not sauna, that's vegetable cooking.

    If you want lots of steam try a steam room, where the temps are about 60 degrees lower. Sauna should be enjoyable, not a painful endurance test.

    I hope this gives you some help.
  • Aquanerd

    Posts: 845

    Oct 07, 2008 1:08 AM GMT
    Vespa offered some great insight. I do want to point out one thing. Most Suanas in US Health Clubs are actually "Dry Suanas," and the heating unit is electric, and not intended to be used with water to create steam. There sould be a sign above the heating unit, if not, check with the front desk before pouring water.
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    Oct 07, 2008 2:12 AM GMT
    I went to a lifesyles gym with soem friends and they had a sauna, it was quite nice, i guess since Lifestyles is supposed to be a "family" gym though cause over the door it said, please do not enter nude ( we just grabbed towels put our undearwear on and then when we realized that we were theo nly ones in there we took them off and just used the towels ) oddly the mens was a Steam and the womans was a Dry... ( never understook why they kept them differnt)
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    Oct 07, 2008 2:16 AM GMT
    Aquanerd saidVespa offered some great insight. I do want to point out one thing. Most Suanas in US Health Clubs are actually "Dry Suanas," and the heating unit is electric, and not intended to be used with water to create steam. There sould be a sign above the heating unit, if not, check with the front desk before pouring water.


    First, thank you for endorsing my post. Second, the rocks (or faux rocks) in electric heating units can sometimes accept a water dowsing, but you are right, that capability should be established first.

    Tip-offs are a water bucket in the sauna, or a rubber hose and spigot next to the heater unit. But I hate hoses, because they encourage the kind of excessive flooding I mentioned in my previous post, resulting in a rush of scalding steam. Water on the rocks is intended to keep the air from becoming overly dry, but not to create a steam room effect.

    Some public saunas will provide aromatic woods to place on the rocks, a Finnish tradition, which in the US mask the sometimes unpleasant stale-wood smells coming from the benches & walls of poorly-maintained rooms.

    The protocols for privately-owned saunas are different and, in my view, very much more attractive than public saunas. But as I presume no one here has that option, I won't go into them.
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    Oct 07, 2008 2:30 AM GMT
    I just the gym sauna after working out...

    I douse the rocks with water to get the place good 'n hot ...and then shake some eucalyptus oil on the rocks

    That gets me sweating really good.

    After about 10 minutes when the muscles are really warmed up, I start doing stretches. The stretches help to prevent the muscles from locking up after a workout.

    Pertaining to the fascia surrounding the muscles...

    "When contraction persists, fascia will respond with the addition of new material. Fibroblasts secrete collagen and other proteins into the extracellular matrix where they bind to existing proteins, making the composition thicker and less extensible. Although this potentiates the tensile strength of the fascia, it can unfortunately restrict the very structures it aims to protect. The pathologies resulting from fascial restrictions range from a mild decrease in joint range of motion to severe fascial binding of muscles, nerves and blood vessels, as in compartment syndrome of the leg. However, if fascial contraction can be interrupted long enough, a reverse form of fascial remodeling occurs. The fascia will normalize its composition and tone and the extra material that was generated by prolonged contraction will be ingested by macrophages within the extracellular matrix."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascia#Fascial_dynamics
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    Oct 15, 2008 9:49 PM GMT
    I attend a public sauna suite every week. Where I go is Coral Reef Water World, a venue designed for families. Thus the Sauna World, as it is called, a facility for over 18s only, is a good retreat from shouting children.
    I have been going to the sauna for over thirty years. The one I attend has three seperate sweatboxes, each with different temperatures, and a Japanese steam room.
    Generally, my session begins with the steam room. There I spend 3x15 minutes, accurately timed with a waterproof stopwatch, with a cold plunge in between each sitting. This opens my pores in readiness for the main session, which is 6x15 minutes in the hottest sweatbox with a temperature around 100 degrees C. Then I finish off with one sitting in a cooler sweatbox.
    Towels are not compulsory here, but I would highly reccommend one soaked in cold water. The bench is hot, and I have seen many bathers jump through the ceiling! Wearing a cossie here is compulsory, as it is mixed bathing. (The German and Russian students who also attend find this somewhat bewildering).
    My advice: if you are a beginner do NOT try to copy my schedule. What I do is the result of years of sauna acclimatization. Rather, keep your sittings short and take a plunge when your body tells you to. If there is a steamroom at your venue, use that first, as it opens up the pores better. Use the cooler sweatbox first if there is one. If not, sit at the lower bench first, and work your way upward with each sitting. Sauna is safe if you know how to use it, but if you overstretch what your body can cope with, or use it as an endurance test, you are likely to become ill, with headaches or feverishness. Sauna is exactly like training - you start easy and work up.
    Enjoy!
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    Oct 15, 2008 10:50 PM GMT
    NotThatOld saidThere I spend 3x15 minutes, accurately timed with a waterproof stopwatch, with a cold plunge in between each sitting.
    Enjoy!


    Excellent suggestions. I always wear a diver's watch in the sauna, with a simple rotating timing bezel I can set for each session, most often doing exactly the same 3x15-min routine you mention. The heat might be damaging to the watch were it not on my wrist, where my skin absorbs enough of the heat from its metal case to protect it.

    I'm quiet blind without my glasses, and so like to keep them on, especially if it's a men's nude sauna, for obvious reasons. But retro style plastic frames can be damaged by the heat (heating & stretching is how the lenses are inserted into them), and I've been told that modern plastic lenses can be harmed by the heat, too. Haven't experienced that yet.

    I sometimes wear my contacts instead, but dry heat can dehydrate them quickly, so I spend more time with my eyes closed, or open just a slit & blinking often. Don't wanna miss some hunky naked guy coming in... LOL!
  • vindog

    Posts: 1440

    Oct 19, 2008 7:58 PM GMT
    As far as the rocks go....



    Usually the clubs are reactionary since people will dump entire garbage cans of water on the rocks (I've seen this happen), so they just say "NO WATER."


    But if the rocks are there, you pour a SPOT, just a little. Too much will by-pass the rocks and short the heating element.




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    Oct 19, 2008 8:27 PM GMT
    atlnvmasc saidAs far as the rocks go....



    Usually the clubs are reactionary since people will dump entire garbage cans of water on the rocks (I've seen this happen), so they just say "NO WATER."


    But if the rocks are there, you pour a SPOT, just a little. Too much will by-pass the rocks and short the heating element.


    The heating elements are not shorted out by the water. They are essentially the same construction as you see at the bottom of an electric oven (cooker for the Brits) in your kitchen, or a dishwasher. Just as some cooking spillage won't short out your oven, or water damage your dishwasher element, neither will a sauna heating unit suffer a short circuit from a little water.

    What can happen is that too much cold water can create a temperature shock on a red-hot heating element, and damage it in that way. An appropriately small amount of water on the hot rocks will steam off, however, and almost no water will reach the glowing electric heating coils underneath.

    This is why I dislike saunas with a hose and spigot right next to the heating unit. Guys will flood the rocks, and cause thermal shock damage to the electric coils. As well as create a very painful rush of superheated steam in the sauna.