Sauna lovers are usually after the toasty heat enjoyed by a good sauna session. It gets the blood flowing, increases your heart rate, induces sweating that flushes toxins and gets your skin glowing and youthful looking. But, did you know that alternating from a hot sauna to a cold splash can actually improve the benefits of sauna use?
It’s true! Some Finns take this regimen to the extreme by sweating it out for 15-20 minutes in a piping hot sauna, then pop outside in the frigid air for a run or a plunge into a lake. If those aren’t available, a cool shower is an acceptable substitute.
What kinds of benefits does this alternating hot/cold therapy provide?
- Fights depression. After a sauna session, taking a cold splash helps elevate heart rate and increases the production of adrenaline and endorphins. Since there is a significant density of cold receptors in our skin, the cold initiates electrical impulses that go straight to the brain from our nerve endings. Pain gets eased and it creates an anti-depressive effect.
- Fights inflammation. This is especially significant for anyone with Rheumatoid arthritis. Sauna sessions for arthritis sufferers allow joints to become more fluid and eliminate stiffness and pain. But, for some the inflammation could be substantial the next day. Alternating between hot and cold helps prevent this issue and ease those symptoms.
- Improves blood flow. Experiencing any muscle damage or soreness? Enjoy faster recovery from those issues with a good sauna session followed by a cool shower. Your muscles will experience a rejuvenating effect due to the resulting increased blood flow.
As with any attempts at a new therapy, it’s best to consult with your doctor before giving this type of treatment a try. If he gives you the green light, this is certainly the time of year to give an alternating hot/cold regimen a try. Just a step outside into the chilly rainy (and snowy!) crisp nights we’ve been having for ten minutes could be all the cold therapy you’ll need! (The cool shower will of course do the trick, too.)