April 05, 2022
5 min read

Why Athletes Are Using Infrared Saunas

Is Sauna Good For Athletes?

Athletes are ahead of the pack when it comes to everything related to sports science, interestingly, though, there’s a huge - and growing - number of them that are using infrared saunas as part of their remedial therapies to treat injuries and accelerate their recovery times.

So, what do all those athletes know that you don’t? 

Well, aside from the medically proven benefits of infrared saunas providing muscle pain relief, easing joint pain, and improving cardiovascular health, athletes are increasingly turning to infrared saunas as a means of recovery and relaxation, all packaged into one.

There is a building body of evidence to suggest that saunas can provide the body with one of the most effective means of increasing blood oxygen levels and the production of red blood cells. 

This is down to the fact that saunas can provide the body with a natural means of producing erythropoietin, or EPO.

When we sweat, it is mainly coming from the plasma in our blood, which dehydrates the blood. 

Our kidneys react to this dehydration and produce EPO to increase our red blood cell count, and how effectively they can transport oxygen around the body.

This, in combination with the direct stimulation of muscles and joints with infrared light targets subdermally means that infrared saunas are becoming the go-to form of treatment, prevention, and relaxation for athletes around the world. 

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Is A Sauna Good For Athletes?

Saunas are one of the most convenient, yet effective ways an athlete can improve their strength, blood-oxygen levels, endurance, and fast-track their recovery times. 

As we’ve just mentioned, one of the most significant advantages of sauna use for athletes is the acceleration of EPO creation in the bloodstream, which has a number of advantages for individuals looking to improve their performance, endurance, and blood-oxygen count.

Aside from this, due to the fact that infrared light penetrates below the skin and actively hunts down sore muscles, it’s one of the most effective ways of aiding and accelerating recovery times in elite-level athletes.

“One of the primary factors in endurance muscle fatigue is this drop in blood volume,” says exercise physiologist, Dr. Stacy Sims of Stanford’s Prevention Research Centre. 

“Sauna training helps counter this by increasing EPO and, through this, both plasma volume and red blood cell count. It can be super beneficial for any endurance athlete… think of it as another natural, ergonomic aid in your arsenal, one that can provide a 2-to-3 percent boost in performance,” she says. 

If that's not enough for you to decide whether or not saunas are good for athletes,  take a look at ussie surfing legend, Owen Wright, also praises the use of infrared sauna therapy with his Clearlight Infrared® Outdoor Sauna

Owen who is 2020 will be surfing in his 10th year on tour for the World Surf League. 

Winner of 4 Championship Tour Events, Owen’s first win was in 2012 Long Island New York, receiving surfings largest prize ever of $300,000. 

In June 2015, Owen became the first-ever surfer to score 2 perfect heats in one competition during the Fiji Pro, which he went on to claim as his second win.

Is Infrared Sauna Good For Surfers?

Find out more about Owen’s story in his full episode on The Sauna Show.

Can Infrared Saunas Cause Muscle Growth?

Infrared saunas do indeed promote muscle growth, thanks to the benefits of added EPO in the bloodstream, as well as increasing the body’s natural growth hormones, lowering the muscle’s protein catabolism and optimising insulin sensitivity. Insulin levels directly impact muscle growth, while an increase of growth hormones will stimulate both muscle growth and recovery. 

This combination is also said to be the reason why evidence is pointing to sauna users living for longer than those that go without. 

Another top-of-the-game athlete using infrared sauna therapy, Roger Snipes, is no newby when it comes to gaining muscle mass. 

As a matter of fact, the 2010 Mr. Britannia has been using his Clearlight infrared sauna especially for recovery after training. 

Body Building Sauna Routine

"I’ve been a fan of the traditional saunas for years at least 25 years. I learned about Clearlight infrared sauna through a friend who explained all its health benefits and I was sold. 

When it comes to my health I never question my investments especially if reviews are excellent by renown doctors or scientists. It’s still surreal to think I have a infrared sauna in my house but what’s even more surreal is how I feel on a daily bases. 

Environmental toxins are impossible to hide from. The food we eat and the chemicals we come into contact with too. My body's natural detox is not optimal. 

I learned this through a DNA test so having this to ramp up my detox pathway is truly spectacular. I find my recovery level after training and cycling has increased and I feel clear-headed and focused after a session too. 

One special feature which I love about the Clearlight sauna is that you can listen to an audiobook while you relax so it doesn’t feel like a waiting room. 

Some days I’ll put on some classical or baroque while I meditate in the moderate heat. 

It’s not intensely skin scorching like the traditional saunas. It’s a mild heat that is gradual. You notice your sweat before the heat which is another surreal experience. 

I normally preheat for 20 minutes and bask in the ambiance. I find my happy place in the Clearlight sauna. The soft-toned lights, the calming heat, and natural wood make it a very comfortable place to mindfully detox too.

 I couldn’t be happier." - Roger Snipes

Are Saunas Good For Muscle Recovery?

There are a number of peer-reviewed studies that suggest infrared saunas both assist and accelerate the muscle recovery process. A study from 2007 on endurance performance athletes showed that “sauna bathing increased run time to exhaustion by 32% (90% confidence limits 21-43%), which is equivalent to an enhancement of approximately 1.9% in an endurance time trial.”

As we mentioned earlier in the piece, the natural production of EPO has a profound impact on the body’s ability to grow and recover, and when taking into account the benefits of targeted infrared rays on muscles and joint pain, infrared saunas really do represent one of the best ways to assist with muscle recovery.

Is Sauna Good For Power Lifters?

Stefanie Cohen, known as one of the strongest female powerlifters in history, uses her Clearlight Infrared® Outdoor Sauna for both cutting-weight and strength recovery. 

"One of the toughest parts of being a competitive powerlifter isn’t the heavy lifting, it is the cut going into the meet. It takes hours to get a competitive edge and I wanted to give you a look into what plays out in my head before and after the meet." - Stefanie Cohen

Is Sauna Good For Bio-hackers?

Biohacker, ex-bodybuilder, and self-confessed sauna addict, Ben Greenfield uses his Clearlight Infrared® Sauna almost every day. 

“As a matter of fact, aside from when I'm traveling to speak at conferences or attending events, it’s been nearly forty-five days since I’ve missed a single sauna session.” 

Ben Greenfield also goes on to state, “It is also important to note that when hyperthermia and exercise are combined, they induce a synergistic increase in growth hormone, which is why I do yoga, push-ups, and squats in my infrared sauna”.

Make sure to read his full article on Ten Scientifically Proven Reasons I Am Addicted To A Daily Sauna.

In this video, both Ben Greenfield and Joe Rogan (another sauna lover) discuss the health benefits of sauna therapy and infrared sauna therapy.

If you're interested in an infrared sauna cabin for home, click here to view our range of full-spectrum saunas, far-infrared saunas, and outdoor saunas.

Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen.

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