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Article: Sauna Before Or After Massage: What's The Right Way?

Sauna Before Or After Massage: What's The Right Way?

Sauna Before Or After Massage: What's The Right Way?

Written by Chris Lang

Both sauna sessions and massages are popular ways to relax and promote general health and wellness. But they don’t necessarily need to be enjoyed separately. Many people find that stepping into a sauna or steam room either before or after having a massage can help to enhance the health benefits, like improved circulation and detoxification.

However, many people are unsure about the right order to have their sauna and massage sessions. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering whether it’s better to use the sauna first or better to have a massage before getting onto the massage table, this guide is here to help. Below, we’ll look at whether you should use a sauna before or after massage, exploring the benefits of both options.

Understanding Sauna and Massage Therapy

Before digging into the details of is it better to sauna before or after massage, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how massage treatment and sauna therapy work. The more you know, the easier it’ll be to figure out whether to massage before or after the sauna.

What Is Sauna Therapy?

First, let’s take a dive into the sauna experience. Saunas have been used for thousands of years, dating back to ancient times in countries like Finland and Russia. And when it comes to why use a sauna, there are many potential benefits to take into account – saunas have been linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improved circulation, and much more.

In terms of what a sauna is, it’s essentially an enclosed space that is designed to get extremely hot. A traditional sauna or Finnish sauna is no more than a small room with a container of heated rocks inside it. The rocks may be heated via gas, electric power, or some other source, and they radiate heat around them to warm up the space. Get in touch with Komowa to find out how you can enjoy your own home sauna.

There are also other types of sauna, like an infrared sauna. Infrared sauna therapy makes use of infrared light to warm the body from within. In essence, the infrared rays are able to penetrate the outer layer of skin, passing down to the deeper layers of tissue and muscle and heating them up. These saunas are generally seen as more comfortable, as they don’t get as intensely hot as others.

Along with various physical and mental health benefits, infrared heat therapy has also been proven to help people relax. Indeed, in a Global Sauna Survey, respondents revealed that relaxation was one of the main reasons for getting into the sauna or making sauna usage a regular part of their routines. Many went further, noting that sauna therapy even helps them sleep better and feel less stressed.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

Similar to saunas, massage therapy has also been around for thousands of years, having its roots in India and other Eastern cultures. It’s all about the idea of rubbing, pushing, kneading, and physically interacting with the body, specifically the soft tissue, like muscles, tendons, and skin. Typically, a trained massage therapist should be the person performing this treatment.

The purported benefits of massage therapy include improved circulation and pain relief in key areas of the body, like the shoulders, neck, and back, as well as feelings of stress relief and relaxation. And there is evidence to support these claims. A 2014 review discovered that massages may help with recurring back and neck pain, headaches, and chronic conditions like fibromyalgia.

In terms of relaxation and mental health, massage therapy has also been proven to be beneficial. Indeed, evidence suggests that only 10 minutes of massage can be sufficient to help people feel a noticeable reduction in stress and anxiety levels. This helps to promote a more balanced and positive mental state, which can be life-changing for those with serious stress issues and hectic lives.

Combining Sauna and Massage

Evidently, sauna and massage sessions can both offer a great range of health and wellness benefits, and both can be part of a healthy lifestyle. There’s no need to simply pick one over the other. In fact, many people enjoy massage and sauna together, even one after the other, like a sauna after massage, as a way to maximize their relaxation and other health advantages.

No matter whether you opt for sauna or massage first, the logic behind combining saunas and massages is clear. Both of these therapy formats can help people relax, as well as ease pain and tension throughout their bodies, and promote general feelings of well-being. Therefore, by having a massage then sauna or sauna before massage, you can ideally enjoy the best of both.

It’s all about maximizing relaxation potential. In the same way that someone might have a full spa day with lots of different treatments to help them feel utterly at peace, people may choose to step into the sauna after a massage to soothe their bodies and minds as much as they can. And there’s a lot of synergy between these two types of wellness therapy.

The Science Behind Sauna and Massage Combination

Many people have questions about using saunas and massage together, like “Should you do sauna before or after massage?” or “Is it a good idea to have a massage after the sauna?” Well, from a scientific point of view, there’s quite a lot of evidence to support the idea that taking a massage around the same time as a sauna session can offer many benefits.

Effects on Circulation and Blood Flow

One of the best shared benefits of saunas and massages is improved circulation and blood flow. Research has found, for instance, that spending time in a sauna can provide a notable boost to circulation. This is due to the fact that the high temperatures of the sauna make the blood vessels widen, allowing more blood to flow through and get where it needs to go.

Massage can have a similar effect, though it works in a different way. Specifically, by pushing and rubbing certain areas of the body, massage therapists can effectively help the blood flow through congested or tight areas more freely. Even a five-minute long massage session has been shown to improve circulation, both in the targeted area and the surrounding parts of the body.

Given that both massage and sauna use can improve circulation in their own unique ways, it stands to reason that combining these treatments can provide even greater, amplified benefits. For example, a person with poor circulation could step into a steam sauna before or after massage, enjoying the heat benefits of the sauna, plus the physical blood flow boost from the massage.

Detoxification and Muscle Preparation

Circulatory improvements aren’t the only benefits that come from saunas and massages. Detoxification is another benefit that is often linked with spending time in a sauna. It’s believed that the high heat of the sauna can help detox the body via sweating, and there is evidence to back this up, as gathered and summarized in a 2022 review.

That review, among other studies, found that sweat can contain small amounts of various unwanted elements. Examples include heavy metals, like lead and cadmium, which are considered carcinogenic, along with harmful chemicals that can accumulate in the body over time and interfere with various bodily processes.

What’s more, if a person uses a sauna or steam room before massage, their muscles will be warmed up. That heat can soften the muscle tissue and prepare them for the massage process. This can make massage more effective, as research shows that heat and massage, when combined, produce more intense relaxation effects. This is partly why a lot of massage techniques incorporate heat in some way, like hot stone massage.

Practical Considerations and Safety Tips

In order to get the best benefits of sauna after massage or massages and sauna therapy combined, it’s important to approach these wellness practices in the right way. Here are some tips and expert strategies to help you get the most out of your wellness routine.

Sauna and Massage Order

One of the most common questions people have about saunas and massages is “Should you sauna before or after a massage?” Well, when it comes to whether you should step into the sauna after massage or before, there are two schools of thought. Some people argue that it’s best to have a sauna before a massage, while others argue in favor of the massage first.

If you take an infrared sauna before massage, there are several obvious benefits. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that the sauna helps to warm up your muscles. As explained above, that can help to make your massage more effective, as warmer, softer tissue is less tense and easier for massage therapists to manipulate.

Another advantage of taking a sauna before your massage is that it puts you in a more relaxed and receptive state of mind. That can make it easier for you to feel less tense during your massage, thereby enjoying stronger effects from it. This is especially relevant for those who may feel a little anxious or scared before getting a massage.

But can you use a sauna after massage? And are there any interesting sauna after massage benefits? Well, the short answer is yes. Some experts say that having a sauna after a deep tissue massage works wonders for speeding up the healing process and improves detoxification. This is important, as certain massage types may trigger the body’s inflammation responses, and saunas can ease that.

All in all, when it comes to whether should you use sauna before or after massage, there’s not really any wrong answer. You can enjoy benefits from both options, though the general consensus would state that it’s probably best, in most cases, to use the sauna first and massage second. That’ll help you enjoy the most notable benefits.

Staying Hydrated

No matter whether you decide on massage or sauna first, it’s vital to hydrate before and after you step into the sauna. The reason being, saunas make you sweat a lot, and that can lead to dehydration, which may lead to tiredness, headaches, and other symptoms. Drinking plenty of water helps you get the sauna benefits with minimal risk of any downsides.

You may also consider taking a cold shower after sauna to wake yourself up and drink a bottle of water to fully rehydrate before continuing your day.

Health Considerations

It’s also important to note that both traditional saunas and massages, while generally safe, aren’t right for everyone. People with certain health conditions are advised to consult with their doctors before pursuing any kind of new wellness treatment. That applies to those with heart conditions, for example, chronic pain problems, joint issues, etc.

You may find that, in some cases, your doctor will recommend avoiding a massage or sauna, as it could lead to unwanted complications. However, in other cases, your doctor may suggest the opposite, explaining that a sauna or massage (or both) could actually be beneficial for you and may even ease some of the symptoms you suffer from.

Combine Saunas and Massages for Best Effects

If you started this guide wondering “should I sauna before or after massage?,” we hope that this has provided the answer. Ultimately, no matter whether you take a sauna before massage or after, you can experience great benefits either way, and it’s certainly worth considering these two wellness practices as part of a holistic healthy routine. Contact Komowa today to learn even more about how you can enjoy sauna benefits from the comfort of your own home.


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