Benefits of Sauna Bathing After Workout for Muscle Recovery

In an exercise program, muscle recovery means taking breaks between workouts. Good nutrition, especially protein, helps, too. An infrared sauna is another effective method for repairing muscle tissue after exercise.

What is an Infrared Sauna? Understanding Sauna Muscle Recovery

An infrared sauna uses infrared light, heating your body directly rather than the surrounding air. This makes it a better option for those who can’t handle the intense heat of a traditional sauna.

This type of therapy is also known as a far infrared sauna (FIR sauna). “Far” refers to the longer wavelengths of infrared light used in this therapy, which differ from those in near-infrared and mid-infrared saunas.

Exploring sauna benefits reveals that using a sauna can lead to increased endurance, stress relief, improved circulation, and even potential weight loss through sweating, as it induces physiological changes that may impact body fat. [Read more about sauna weight loss]

Benefits of Sauna Use for Muscle Recovery

Infrared sauna therapy uses light that penetrates deeply into the skin, reaching muscle tissue stressed during strength training. But how does this therapy work?

A 2019 article notes that the exact mechanisms are still somewhat unclear. However, it offers various heat-related health benefits, including vasodilation of capillaries and dilation of blood vessels. This process improves blood circulation, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach muscle tissue and aiding exercise recovery by promoting increased blood flow to muscles, which helps relax muscle fibers, reduce tension, and aid in circulation, ultimately contributing to relieving muscle pain and promoting overall heart health. It also helps the body remove toxins more effectively.

One major “toxin” from strength training is lactic acid. If lactic acid builds up, it causes sore muscles, which can hinder athletic performance. Increasing blood flow to the muscles helps reduce this buildup and the resulting soreness.

Infrared therapy also reduces pain by acting as an analgesic for muscle tissue, which is especially helpful after intense workouts. By minimizing post workout muscle soreness, clients are more likely to stick to their training schedules. Plus, this pain relief method doesn’t require medications.

Other benefits of infrared therapy include better sleep, increased skin elasticity, and reduced fat mass. Improved sleep further aids muscle recovery. Enhanced skin elasticity gives a more toned appearance, and reduced fat mass is beneficial on its own.

sauna etiquette

Infrared Sauna Therapy Research

Numerous studies have explored how infrared heat impacts muscle tissue. One study published in 2015 examined the effects of far infrared sauna bathing on recovery after endurance training sessions. Incorporating a sauna after a workout, particularly infrared sauna, can significantly enhance muscle recovery and improve cardiovascular health, supported by scientific evidence highlighting increased blood circulation and reduced oxidative stress.

In this study, ten men participated in 30-minute sauna sessions after strength or endurance training. Some used a far infrared sauna, while others used traditional Finnish sauna bathing.

Researchers found that those using far infrared sauna bathing experienced better neuromuscular recovery. They also noted that this type of infrared therapy provided “a comfortable and relaxing experience.”

Another 2015 study focused on power athletes and found similar results. These athletes showed improved neuromuscular performance recovery with far infrared heat, enabling them to train harder and accelerate their athletic progress.

Additional research highlights other benefits of infrared saunas. One study found that they help lower blood pressure, which is crucial because high blood pressure can lead to hypertension and potentially sudden cardiac death.

The same research indicates that infrared sauna bathing can improve joint pain and mobility, benefit lung function, and enhance skin health. Thus, infrared sauna heat offers numerous health benefits.

Infrared Sauna vs. Red Light Therapy

Some people mix up infrared sauna treatments with red light therapy, but they are quite different.

An infrared sauna uses far infrared light, which heats the body directly. Red light therapy, however, uses near-infrared light. According to NASA, near-infrared light is closer to visible light, while far-infrared light is more electromagnetic and thermal. Common sources of far infrared heat include a fireplace or sunlight.

These sources of far infrared heat are very different from those using near-infrared light. For example, a remote control uses near-infrared light to operate a TV without generating heat.

Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy or photobiomodulation, doesn’t emit heat but offers other benefits. Research shows that it has anti-inflammatory properties and promotes the expression of antioxidant enzymes.

sauna for muscle recovery

Tips for Using Infrared Sauna for Muscle Recovery

To optimize muscle recovery, clients should consider sauna therapy 3-4 times a week. Start with shorter sessions of 10-15 minutes, gradually increasing to 20-30 minutes as they become accustomed to the heat.

Clients can choose to wear swimsuits or be unclothed, depending on the privacy of the sauna area.

Since infrared saunas heat the body, staying hydrated is crucial. Clients are encouraged to drink water before and after their time in the sauna. They might even want to bring a water bottle into the sauna.

The most important advice is for clients to listen to their bodies. If they feel unwell during a session, they should stop immediately. Also, monitoring how the sauna impacts muscle soreness will help determine the ideal number of sessions per week for optimal recovery.

Sauna for Growth Hormone Release

Growth hormone plays a crucial role in muscle growth, bone strength, tissue repair, and metabolism. As we age, natural production decreases, but studies indicate that specific sauna protocols can boost growth hormone release significantly, sometimes up to 16-fold, with elevated levels continuing for several hours post-sauna. So, how can you maximize these growth and recovery benefits?

Interestingly, to optimize growth hormone release, infrequent sauna use—about once a week or less—is recommended. The protocol involves multiple 30-minute sauna sessions, interspersed with five-minute cooldowns. Repeat the 30/5 sauna and cooldown cycle a few hours later for a total of four sauna sessions in one day to maximize growth hormone release.

Extra Tips to Maximize Growth Hormone Release

For optimal growth hormone release, use the sauna in a semi-fasted state (avoid food for two to three hours beforehand). To further boost metabolic benefits, use the sauna after your workout and alternate time in the sauna with cold exposure during rest periods, such as an ice bath, cold water plunge, or cold shower.

Exceeding the recommended sauna use can actually hinder human growth hormone release, so it’s important to follow the guidelines. Regular sauna use can improve sore muscles and overall physical activity, making it a valuable addition to any fitness routine. [Read more about the sauna benefits]

When Infrared Sauna Therapy Is Not Recommended

Using a sauna after a workout isn’t suitable for everyone. Clients should consult their doctor before starting, especially if they have high blood pressure or heart-related issues. Sauna therapy is also not advised when clients are feeling unwell.

Clients should avoid the sauna if they’ve been drinking alcohol. Alcohol increases the risk of dehydration, which is further elevated by the heat from an infrared sauna.


Infrared sauna therapy offers numerous benefits for muscle recovery, from reducing soreness and pain to improving circulation and overall well-being. Incorporating this therapy into your fitness routine can enhance your recovery process and achieve better results.

Ready to experience the benefits of infrared sauna therapy for yourself? Schedule a sauna session at Body Ache Escape today and take the next step toward optimal muscle recovery and overall health. Don’t wait—book your session now and feel the difference!

Infrared saunas can aid muscle growth indirectly by promoting muscle recovery and reducing soreness after workouts. The heat from infrared saunas increases blood flow, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissues while removing waste products like lactic acid. This improved circulation helps muscles recover faster, allowing for more frequent and intense training sessions, which can contribute to muscle growth over time. However, infrared saunas alone do not directly stimulate muscle growth; they are most effective when combined with proper strength training and nutrition programs.

Using an infrared sauna after a workout can assist in fat loss by enhancing the overall effectiveness of your exercise routine. The heat from the infrared sauna increases blood circulation and boosts metabolism, which can help you burn more calories even after your workout session. Additionally, infrared sauna therapy promotes detoxification through sweating and improves cardiovascular health, both supporting weight loss efforts. While the sauna alone won’t cause significant fat loss, combining it with a consistent moderate-intensity cardio workout and proper nutrition can amplify your results and help reduce fat mass.

Yes, saunas, especially infrared saunas, are excellent for muscle soreness as they improve blood circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote faster recovery. [Other reasons why saunas are so good for you]

To help the muscles relax, it’s recommended to sit in a sauna for 10-15 minutes at minimum and 40 minutes at maximum. This duration allows the heat to penetrate deeply, improving muscle relaxation and alleviating muscle tension.

Yes, using a sauna on rest days is beneficial. Regular sauna use can aid in post-workout recovery, improve muscle relaxation, and alleviate muscle soreness. It also provides a comfortable and relaxing experience, promoting overall relaxation and enhancing endurance performance for your next workout.

Using a sauna offers several health benefits beyond muscle recovery. It improves cardiovascular function by causing blood vessels to dilate, enhances relaxation, and promotes the release of growth hormone. Regularly using a sauna can help detoxify, improve skin health, and support overall physical activity recovery. These benefits make sauna time a valuable addition to any wellness routine. [Read more about the detoxification benefits]