I’ve got a question for you all. What would be your FIRST reaction if someone told you that they do Sauna and Ice Baths?
-Is this person crazy?
-What kind of sick joke is this….
-Sauna, yes. But What was that second part?
Three years ago, Kwin and I made a pretty big investment and got a barrel sauna for our backyard! We had heard so many great things about saunas from podcasts (Joe Rogan, Laird & Gabby Hamilton, Aubrey Marcus, etc.) and figured why not, we love a challenge! Having struggled with Raynauds- which is a circulation problem that causes my hands and feet to turn white/be very painful whenever I’m cold– I love the heat and was obviously all in for the sauna part. But NEVER did I ever think that I would jump in an ice bath willingly.
Functional health and wellness is a huge part of Kwin and I’s lives, and finding ways to improve our overall health is fun to us! So I’m sure you’re all wondering, what exactly are the benefits of a sauna? How about the benefits of adding in an Ice Bath rotation?
- Helps Improve Circulation– The heat from the hot sauna has a vasodilation effect (basically means that your blood vessels dilate, which can cause your blood pressure to come down!) In fact, HERE is a pretty interesting article I read a while back about how saunas can help with lowering an individuals blood pressure in the long run! The dilation of your blood vessels helps to make sure that different parts of your body are getting the proper amount of oxygen that it needs.
- Increases your resting metabolic rate– If you think about how many calories you burn when playing a sport, or riding a bike…this is partially in part to your heart pumping at a faster rate (otherwise known as sinus tachycardia.) Well in a sauna, your heart is also beating at a pretty fast pace! With your heart pumping and your brown fat cells working hard your overall core body temperature rises, resulting in more calories burned while at a resting state.
- Detoxifies your body– This is a pretty simple concept. 180+degree temps is going to make you sweat….A LOT! When sweating, you loose a lot of water and toxins. These are typically from what you ingest on a daily basis, as well as anything that you may be exposed to without even knowing it. Unfortunately, the world we live in is full of endocrine disrupting chemicals and toxins. So riding them from our body is a pretty good idea! You may notice the next morning a few more zits than normal, but it’s just your body getting rid of junk! ALSO I would advise drinking lots of water after a sauna session to rehydrate all the water lost.
- Increases recovery time after a workout– As mentioned above vasodilation allows for more oxygen to be delivered to muscle cells. With more oxygen being delivered to your muscle cells they are able to rest and recover at a faster pace!
Ice Bath Benefits
- Helps Increase Immunity– The initial shock of getting out of the HOT sauna and into a FREEZING tub is exactly the shock the body needs to fight any intruders that may be in your body. Think of it this way, your body is going from somewhere that is close to 200 degrees, to being submerged in something close to 32 or less degrees! Jumping into an ice bath activates the body’s natural healing powers that can promote a sense of health and well-being. If you’re able to do it on a regular basis, they can even provide long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems! If you don’t have a large tub laying around, jumping into a lake or pool is always a good option. A lot of Naturopathic Physicians have started offering a treatment very similar to this (Hydrotherapy.) Check out THIS article for more information!
- Allows you to stay in the sauna longer– How many times have you been in a sauna, but only been able to stay 10-15 minutes MAX because it’s just so hot? Been there, done that! Well the ice bath provides you with a sense of relief, so that you can stay in there for closer to 30-45 minutes! The longer you are able to tolerate the saunas heat, the more health benefits you’ll get out of it.
- Increases recovery time after a workout-Going along with what I mentioned above, the ice bath helps to decrease your inflammation that individuals usually accumulate after workouts! After all, working out causes micro tears in your muscle fibers, which causes generalized inflammation! Recovery is so important for athletes!
- The Mental Challenge– I’ll be honest, my first couple times of doing the ice bath I defiantly did the “Bird Bath” technique. Meaning I didn’t actually submerge in the tub, but rather splashed myself. I slowly worked myself up to getting into the bath, and now I can’t imagine doing a sauna without it! The exhilarating feeling of being in an ice bath is so empowering!
The sauna/ice baths SAVE US during the winter! It helps to get rid of the chill after being outside in the frigid cold. Plus as you can see in the picture above, the ice bath actually has large chunks of ice in it, which Kwin usually has to chop through with an axe. We average about 2-3 sauna sessions a week during the spring, fall and winter months. When the summer comes around though, it definitely drops down to about once a week!
I hope you all find this information helpful and even try out a sauna/ice bath session in the future!