Sauna use can be seen throughout the martial arts and MMA community with athletes utilizing its properties to help cut weight. But as I was sitting & sweating profusely in this hot wooden room by myself I couldn't help but wonder what are the benefits of using the sauna for BJJ practitioners?
I always felt better once I got out of the sauna but I never knew what the exact benefits were, so I decided to do a little research and find information from the leading experts in this field. What I found out was that using the sauna releases "Heat Shock Proteins", along with aiding in weight loss, increasing circulation, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, relieve stress and remove toxins out of the body.
What are the different types of saunas?
The two most common types of saunas are traditional and far-infrared saunas. In traditional saunas, the heating method is usually done through an electric heater that heats up stones which then emulates the heat through the room.
far-Infrared saunas, however, use a different method of heating. These saunas use a method that involves creating infrared energy which is close to the same wavelength as what the body naturally emits.
For a traditional sauna, the user should allow 30-40 minutes for the room to achieve the desired temperature. Far-infrared saunas can instantly begin to cause the body to heat up but when turned off the room will quickly cool down since there aren't hot rocks to maintain the temperature.
Both options are great and can have benefits such as increasing heat shock proteins.
What are heat shock proteins?
Experience the benefits of heat shock proteins by exercising and raising body temperature. Visit the Athletic Performance section for more articles/information on how you can improve your physique while gaining these benefits.
How long should you stay in the sauna for?
Sauna use can be a great way to maintain and improve your wellbeing but it's important to understand that this can be overused as well. If you are extremely uncomfortable, light-headed or experience other harmful symptoms, you should leave immediately and rehydrate. Ideally, 30-40 min per session is a great guide for the length of your session.
What are the potential dangers of sauna uses?
Alcohol consumption can cause many issues but it can be a serious danger and life-threatening if consumed during, before, or after an intense sauna session because alcohol is dehydrating.
Having a cold beer after sweating may seem like a great idea but it may be life-threatening as well. Finland has a large number of fatalities every year due to persons while using alcohol with the sauna. Don't make this mistake.
Another common danger is the "Polar Dive". This is when sauna users will jump into cold water immediately after. The sudden shock can cause heart attacks. It's best to let your body natural return to its normal body temperature.
Overuse (Marathon) of the sauna can cause death. Use common sense and don't try to impress yourself or others by staying in too long. Listen to your body and don't let your ego get the best of you. Do not abuse these amazing benefits by torturing yourself.
Staying hydrated before, during, and after is a great way to help reduce the risk of potential dangers. Make sure you have enough water throughout the day as this is also a great idea to prevent miss-use of the sauna.
Sauna Use and Weight Loss For BJJ
Have you had trouble losing weight? A sauna might be one of the best solutions for you like a 20 min sauna session can burn up to 500 calories! But what if you don't have access to a sauna but you still want to lose weight? A nutrition plan can be crucial in achieving weight loss. Check out our Nutrition Page to learn more about how important nourishment is for weight loss.
Does sauna use increase circulation?
Heat stress causes your heart to beat faster and also causes blood vessels to widen. This effect causes blood to circulate around the body faster.
This is beneficial for jiu-jitsu, MMA fighters and other athletes because this can help reduce soreness. It can also help improve joint mobility and decrease arthritis which is something many people are searching for, especially jiu-jitsu and combat sports athletes.
How does it reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease?
A study in Finland followed men over the span of 2 decades, to see how they reacted to cardiovascular disease and other similar issues. As part of that study, it kept track of how often these men used a sauna within a given week.
The result that came out of this study was that men who used a sauna at least once a week were much less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, or sudden cardiac death.
An increased frequency also showed that they have less chance of passing away from these illnesses. These results happen because the sauna has a similar effect to moderate exercise.
When you use a sauna, your heart rate increases and circulation improves. Because of this, the cells in the heart function better as more blood is being pumped to them.
Does sweating remove toxins out of the body?
Every day you get exposed to pollutants in our environment. They can be found in the food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe and even in everyday household items.
Supporting your bodies' natural detoxify abilities is a great way to ensure a low level of toxicity in your system. It's thought that the best way to detox is through the urine but it's actually the sweating process that eliminates most of the toxic pollutants. This is another great reason why saunas should be used on a regular basis.
How sauna use compliments a BJJ lifestyle
Stress can be a killer. Personally, the sauna has been a great way for me to remove stress from my life. Being in a quiet place and allowing your body to heal through the heat has been very beneficial for my quality of life. It's especially effective after an intense workout.
Stretching in the sauna rather than before BJJ training since your body is warm and it's a great time to improve your flexibility. Learn why you might want to reconsider stretching right before jiu jitsu training.
Being in the sauna is a great compliment to being on the mats. Jiu jitsu and sauna use have similarities for me as both leave me feeling relaxed and at peace. Adding this tool to your BJJ lifestyle might be worth a try!
Have you tried using saunas after or before BJJ training? Share the effects you felt in the comments below.