How to use the sauna properly?


The sauna is not only a place of relaxation but also of health. Regular use of the sauna has many benefits, including improved blood circulation, skin cleansing, and even boosting the immune system. Some consider sauna use to be a real ritual that affects not only the body but also the mind.

However, it is important that the sauna is used correctly. Every visit to the sauna, whether it’s a sauna in your home or a sauna resort, should be properly planned and conducted. Above all, you need to make sure that you have no health contraindications to using the sauna. If you have any doubts, consult your doctor.

Frequency and duration of sauna use

The first step to proper sauna use is understanding how often and how long we should use the sauna. Experts recommend using the sauna at least once a week. Each visit should last at least 1.5 hours, although the optimal time is 2 hours.
The sauna is not a place to rush. On the contrary, it is a time to slow down and allow yourself a real break. Remember, sauna use is not only beneficial for health, but also an opportunity to recharge and relax the mind.

Interestingly, in Nordic countries where the sauna is part of daily life, time spent in the sauna is often treated like meditation. It is an opportunity to pause, disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and focus on yourself.

In the next part of the article, we will discuss the sauna cycle and you will learn what three phases you should follow during each visit to the sauna.

Sauna cycle

A key element of proper sauna use is understanding and following the three basic phases: heating the body, cooling the body, and rest. Each of these phases plays a crucial role in the sauna process and ensures maximum health benefits.
During sauna use, it is recommended to perform at least two, ideally three such cycles. Here’s what they involve:

  • Heating the body: This phase takes place directly in the sauna. It is during this time that our body’s temperature rises, stimulating blood circulation and causing sweating. Sweating is a natural way of detoxifying the body. We should not stay in the sauna for longer than 15 minutes.
  • Cooling the body: After leaving the sauna, we should cool the body. This can be done with a cold shower, pool, or even immersion in snow, if possible and acceptable to us. Cooling the body is important as it helps balance the effects of intense heating and allows the circulatory system to rest. The rule is that cooling starts with the parts of the body furthest from the heart, and only at the end do we cool the neck and head.
  • Rest: The last phase is rest. After cooling the body, we should lie down and rest for as long as we spent in the sauna. This is a time to replenish fluids and recharge.

Preparation for entering the sauna

Proper preparation is key to enjoying the full benefits of the sauna. Before entering the sauna, remember a few important points:

  • Eating and drinking: Avoid consuming heavy meals before visiting the sauna. It is best not to eat for 2 hours before visiting the sauna. Also, avoid alcohol. However, it is important to drink a sufficient amount of clean water or herbal tea.
  • Hygiene: Before entering the sauna, we should fully undress, remove jewelry, watch, and other decorations. Then the whole body should be thoroughly washed to the next reply.
  • Preparing the feet: If our feet are cold, we should warm them in hot water before entering the sauna.

Principles of dry sauna use

The dry sauna, also known as the Finnish sauna, is the most popular type of sauna. With temperatures as high as 100°C and low humidity, the dry sauna offers an intense thermal experience. Here are some rules to follow when using a dry sauna:

  • Bench selection: In a dry sauna, the benches are usually arranged at different heights. The rule of thumb is that the higher you go, the hotter it gets. Therefore, it is best to start with the lowest bench and then, if comfortable, move higher.
  • Body position: When sauntering, we can sit or lie down. However, it is important to keep your legs at torso height or lie down on the bench. Remember that you should put a towel under any part of your body in contact with the sauna wood.
  • Time control: Keep track of the time spent in the sauna so as not to exceed 15 minutes. Just before leaving the sauna, if we have been lying down, we should sit down for a while.

Rules of use for the steam bath

The steam bath, also known as a hammam or Turkish sauna, works on a different principle to the dry sauna. With a temperature of around 45-55°C and a humidity level of up to 100%, the steam bath offers a softer thermal experience. Here are the rules for using a steam bath:

  • Rinse before and after: Immediately after entering the bath, we should rinse the seat and the area under the legs with water from the hose available in the bath. We do the same just before leaving.
  • Body position: As in the dry sauna, we can sit or lie down. However, please note that in the steam sauna we sit or lie completely naked on the seat tiles.

Rules after leaving the sauna / steam bath

After leaving the sauna or steam bath, it is important to cool down the body properly and allow it to recover. Here are the rules we should follow:

  • Rinsing the body: After leaving the sauna or steam bath, we should rinse the sweat off the body under warm water.
  • Cooling the body: The body should then be cooled down using a cold shower or, if possible, using a water tank or ice cave.
  • Rest: After the cooling down process, we should lie down and rest for at least as long as we spent in the sauna. This is important so that the body can regenerate after the intense thermal experience.
  • Replenishing fluids: Sauning leads to intense sweating, so it is important to remember to replenish fluids after each sauna cycle.

Hygiene after the sauna session

Hygiene is extremely important, both for our health and for the comfort of other sauna users. Here are some rules to follow:

  • Foot disinfection: If possible, we should disinfect our feet after a sauna session. This can help to prevent the spread of fungal infections and other infections.
  • Do not use soap: It is not recommended to use soap immediately after a sauna session. Soap can upset the natural balance of the skin and harm its regeneration.
  • Personal hygiene: Remember to always use a fresh towel and clothes after a sauna session. This will help maintain hygiene and ensure that your body remains clean and fresh.

Sauning is not only a matter of health, but also a matter of culture and respect for yourself and others. So let’s remember to always follow the sauning rules to make our experience as pleasant and beneficial as possible.

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Since 2011 I have had my own business selling sauna building materials, sauna cookers and sauna accessories. I know all about building a quality sauna!