Should You Sauna Before Or After A Workout? Benefits Of Sauna After Workout

By Dr. Candy Akers

Many gyms and spas offer saunas as many sauna owners are interested in exercise and staying fit. Those who workout often understand the many benefits saunas have on overall health and fitness.


Why Do Individuals Use Saunas Following Exercise? 

Saunas Release Endorphins & Relaxes Your Muscles

A sauna's intense heat promotes blood circulation. Your body receives more oxygen thanks to improved blood flow, which has the effect of replacing worn-out cells more quickly. Additionally, the heat promotes the release of endorphins, or "happy hormones," in the body.

Do Athletes Use A Sauna?

Sauna use soothes tired muscles after a challenging workout. It can also relieve arthritis, asthma, and physical and mental weariness and wash out some of the body’s pollutants.

Sauna therapy can increase a runners' performance even if those already fit. In one study, well-trained, distance runners who sat in a sauna for 30 minutes after four weeks of training, increased their performance in a run-to-fatigue test by 32% and dropped their 5K time by about 2%.

Saunas are endurance athletes' hidden tools for competing in heat or altitude. They are beneficial for sportspeople, jumpers, and runners. Saunas can reset thermoregulation thresholds, so hot temperatures feel less harsh. They can also improve performance at high-altitude competitions, where the air is dry and dehydrating.

There are several valuable aspects to using a sauna as part of your exercise routine. But should you use it before or after a workout for the best results? 


Should You Sauna Before Or After A Workout?

Possible Results of a Pre-workout sauna:

  • Suanas heat loosens muscles, reducing strain during activity.
  • The sauna warms the body by increasing metabolism and heart rate.
  • A sauna session can relax muscles too much, reducing their efficiency. If your sauna before exercise, rehydrate with a sports drink and wait 15 minutes before starting your workout.

Possible Results of a Post-workout sauna:

  • Sauna therapy helps you continue to burn calories after your workout by keeping your metabolism high.
  • After exercise, a sauna helps sweat off muscular toxins like lactic acid. This allows muscles to recover faster, feel healthier, and less achy the next day.
  • Saunas help remove waste from joints and muscles after exercise.
  • After a workout, a sauna session calms both the mind and muscles.
  • Sauna use after exercise might enhance fat reduction and muscle building.
  • Some studies show that post-exercise sauna use increases blood volume and improves workout performance. Working harder and longer will improve calories burn and weight loss.

How To Use the Sauna After A Workout:

  • Cool down for at least 10 minutes after an intense workout.
  • Take a cool, shower with little to no soap. 
  • Bring in two clean, dry towels. You can sit on or wrap yourself in one and dab sweat with the other.
  • Follow your instincts. If your heart is racing or you're uncomfortable, leave the sauna for 10 minutes. Sauna sessions after a workout should last no more than 25 minutes.
  • After you are finished, take a normal shower with soap to rinse off all of the toxins

Dr. Candy's Recommendations 

For Pre and Post Workout Saunas

Homemedics-Therapist Select Plus Percussion Massager

After a workout, you may experience muscle cramps or soreness. A great way to treat these issues is with a percussion massager. You may have seen these devices at the chiropractor or physical therapy offices. I’ve also seen massage therapists use these for short bursts, where needed. This is the same massager that therapists use except that it costs 50% less. This comes with a compact carrying case and multiple massage heads. This device is rechargeable and cordless with fast charge technology built in.


Learn more

TM-1000PRO Deluxe TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager

TENS units are a well-known way to relax muscles and reduce pain. But watch out because there are a ton of poorly made pieces of junk from China on the market. But a high-quality device, using scientifically driven technology, is a proven tool to have in your “healing toolbox”.

This device is made by TruMedic, which is a well-known manufacturer of smart medical equipment. It has preset programs that you can choose based on your individual pain status. The TM-1000PRO Deluxe has 20 levels of intensity and allows more power output for extreme pain that small non-name devices cannot compare to.


Learn more


1. Lee, E., Kostensalo, J., Willeit, P., Kunutsor, S. K., Laukkanen, T., Zaccardi, F., Khan, H., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2021). Standalone sauna vs exercise followed by sauna on cardiovascular function in non‐naïve sauna users: A comparison of acute effects. Health Science Reports, 4(4), e393-n/a.

2. Kirby, N. V., Lucas, S. J. E., Armstrong, O. J., Weaver, S. R., & Lucas, R. A. I. (2021;2020;). Intermittent post-exercise sauna bathing improves markers of exercise capacity in hot and temperate conditions in trained middle-distance runners. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 121(2), 621-635.

3. Laukkanen, T., Lipponen, J., Kunutsor, S. K., Zaccardi, F., Araújo, C. G. S., Mäkikallio, T. H., Khan, H., Willeit, P., Lee, E., Poikonen, S., Tarvainen, M., & Laukkanen, J. A. (2019). Recovery from sauna bathing favorably modulates cardiac autonomic nervous system. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 45, 190-197.

4. JUNJUN, H. (2011). Far-infrared sauna bodybuilding system based on physical sign parameters and use method thereof Genuis, S. J. (2011). Elimination of persistent toxicants from the human body. Human & Experimental Toxicology, 30(1), 3-18.

5. Genuis, S. J., Birkholz, D., Ralitsch, M., & Thibault, N. (2010). Human detoxification of perfluorinated compounds. Public Health (London), 124(7), 367-375.