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How Runners Can Unlock Better Performance with an Infrared Sauna

How Runners Can Unlock Better Performance with an Infrared Sauna

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Pumped up for that upcoming marathon? Take your performance to a whole new level by incorporating an infrared sauna into your training regimen. Iconic Olympic athletes like Abebe Bikila have credited the sauna as a big factor for their achievements, and here’s how modern runners can use it to their advantage.

Abebe Bikila and His Sauna Sessions

Abebe Bikila is an Ethiopian marathon champion. He became known worldwide when he won the 1960 Rome Olympic marathon barefoot. People  went crazy over his unique approach, but another crucial part of his training came to light – his bi-weekly sauna sessions.

In a biography about his life, Bikila described how the sauna helped him recover from his demanding marathon training routine. It also made him more resistant to the natural body aches that accompany regular running.

Today’s version of the traditional steam saunas come in the form of a far infrared sauna. Runners should complement their training with sauna baths for several reasons:

  • Heat Adaptation

Regular sauna sessions help the body acclimate to the hot weather and help prevent heat exhaustion during a race. This is essential, especially because most races happen during summer or spring.

Aside from preparing the body for the heat, routine trips to the sauna can help increase the plasma in your blood. This makes the body more efficient at sending blood to the skin, which means your muscles always have enough oxygen while still having the ability to self-cool.

  • Enhanced Lung Function

Heat stress has a significant impact on the lungs as well.

Researchers from Helsinki observed a 10% increase in lung capacity and function after the subjects spent time inside a sauna. In addition, the gentle heat also helps clear out your sinuses and lung passages. With continued use, runners will be able to run greater distances without straining to breathe.

  • Better Resilience

In a study from the University of Otago (New Zealand), regular sauna use translated to increased time to exhaustion by as much as 30%.

Participants were male runners who were asked to follow their training sessions with a 30-minute sauna bath. They were observed to gain a 2% time improvement when tested in an actual race.

  • Faster Recovery

The muscles, especially those in the legs, receive a lot of damage after running. This damage is necessary to make the muscles tougher and better able to perform during a race, but proper recovery is important, too.

Infrared heat speeds up muscle recovery by penetrating as much as two inches into those muscles, ligaments, and joins. The heat also helps release tension as the muscles relax and assists pain relief as well. To take advantage of this healing benefit, it is recommended that runners schedule their sweat session after their workout.

There’s no doubt that  an infrared sauna holds great potential for runners and other athletes. Wondering what it takes to have your very own infrared sauna? Our specialists at JNH Lifestyles can help you answer important questions like how much does a sauna cost, what unit size is right for you, and the optimal location for your home sauna. Call us today!

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