Sauna – The classic from Finland
It is like a turbo drive for the immune system, beautifies, relaxes muscles as well as the mind: A Finish sauna is a welcome place to replenish heat reserves, our well-being, and new energy, especially in the winter. But sweating has to be learned!
At home in the Nordic regions, the classic sauna is an inherent part of life and a true cultural asset. Nearly every home in Finland has a "sweat lodge", even more important than the bathroom. At our latitude it is also one of the most popular wellness applications with an excellent, health promoting effect. The improved circulation also supports beautiful, firm skin.
Temperatures between 70 and 100 °C and humidity levels between 5 and 10 percent create optimum conditions for an effective sweat bath. More blood is pumped through the enlarged blood vessels and the body temperature increases, similar to a fever. This kills pathogens, mobilizes our immune system, and the open pores discharge toxins and other harmful substances from the body. Vessels contract again during the subsequent cooling off period, which allows them to remain elastic and become resilient. The blood circulation is stabilized and strengthened. A sauna has a very positive effect specifically with circulatory problems – but only if one heeds the rules.
The dry heat in a sauna increases sweating because the air can absorb a lot of sweat due to the low humidity level. Even if we seemingly do not sweat at all or only very little, the evaporation process is often in full swing without us even noticing it, and this, precisely, is important for the immune system. So-called bio saunas, which are often said to be healthier because of their lower temperatures and significantly higher humidity (30 - 80%), do not achieve the same beneficial effect; rather, they increase our subjective well-being.
Sauna visits require a certain ritual, which novices should take to heart. Here we summarize the most important rules:
- Do not go to a sauna on an empty stomach, but also don't go directly after eating.
- After physical activity, wait until the heart rate drops back to normal levels.
- Shower well before a sauna and dry off well. Damp skin does not sweat as easily as dry skin.
- Do not go into a sauna with cold feet. A warm foot bath is an ideal preparation for the body.
- Choose a suitable spot in the sauna and sit or lie down on a large towel. The further up you are, the hotter it will be. Novices should therefore start relatively far down.
- One sauna session should last between 8 and max. 15 minutes. Leave the cabin if you feel unwell.
- If water is poured on the hot stones, a pre-sweat phase lasting 5-10 minutes and a post-sweat phase of approximately 1-2 minutes is recommended If at all possible, one should not leave the sauna while water is poured on the hot stones.
- If you are lying down, sit up for a moment before leaving the sauna so as to reactivate the circulatory system.
- For the first cooling down period it is recommended to first go into the fresh air, as the lungs can absorb significantly more oxygen after a sauna session. Such an exposure to fresh air is highly recommended before showering.
- Cooling down in water is the next step: either under the shower or in the cold plunge pool. Cooling down with a cold hose (always from the bottom up) is also highly effective.
- Resting is the next step. Lie down in the relaxation room and relax for approximately 10 to 15 minutes before going back into the sauna cabin.
- Follow this sequence for the second and possible third sauna session.
- After the last sauna session it is best to shower without soaps or shower gels. The pores are now wide open so the skin can dry out more easily.
- One should not drink during sauna sessions or drink only very little in order to support the detoxifying process. It is best to drink sufficient amounts of liquid before going to the sauna. In any case, refilling fluid reservoirs after a sauna is imperative. Drink at least one litre of water, light spritzers or herbal or fruit teas.
- A rushed sauna visit is counterproductive. Plan sufficient time for a sauna visit. Approximately two hours are required for a relaxed session.
- Do not visit a sauna if you feel ill. This rule applies in Finland: If you can jog to the sauna, you can go into the sauna.