Written by: Sauna

The Benefits of Sauna for Athletes


Sauna procedures have long been an integral part of professional athletes’ preparation. Many modern gyms and fitness centers are equipped with sauna complexes and spa areas, allowing athletes to recover after strenuous workouts. However, surveys among visitors to sports clubs show that only a small portion of them regularly take advantage of the sauna. More than half of the respondents admit to visiting the sauna or steam room no more than once a month, while others completely underestimate the healing potential of hot steam. Meanwhile, medical experts compare the effects of sauna procedures on the body to an additional workout, as they engage practically all systems of the body.

Historically, sauna procedures have been a mandatory part of the training for Soviet national teams in various sports, especially in strength disciplines such as weightlifting, wrestling, and martial arts. Athletes preferred to visit the traditional Russian saunas with their characteristic high humidity and moderate temperatures, created with the help of a wood-burning stove that allows regulating the heat in the steam room.

Benefits of Sauna for Athletes

Sauna visits offer numerous undeniable benefits for athletes of various sports. Firstly, it has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, preparing it for increased loads and improving overall endurance and performance. During the sauna session, blood vessels dilate, promoting enhanced blood circulation and oxygenation of tissues. Additionally, high temperatures and humidity help achieve increased muscle elasticity, reducing the risk of injuries during workouts and competitions.

The recuperative effect of sauna procedures should not be underestimated. Thanks to intense sweating, the body eliminates accumulated toxins, metabolic waste products, and lactic acid much faster than without a sauna, which can take up to 3-4 days. Thus, the sauna helps athletes recover much faster after strenuous physical activities.


An integral attribute of the Russian sauna is a venik, used for a specific body massage. Whipping with veniks improves blood microcirculation, relieves muscle tension, and accelerates the removal of toxins. It is possible that thanks to regular sauna procedures with the use of veniks, many outstanding Soviet and Russian athletes managed to achieve brilliant results and add to their collections of Olympic medals.

Sauna Benefits for Different Sports

The benefits of sauna procedures for athletes of various sports are quite diverse. For wrestlers, weightlifters, and other athletes competing in weight categories, the sauna is an excellent way to quickly lose excess weight before weigh-in. Gymnasts, equestrians, rowers, and representatives of other sports where lightness and slimness of the figure are important also actively use the sauna to maintain optimal shape and weight.

In team sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, or hockey, sauna procedures help improve coordination of movements, reaction speed, accuracy of throws, shots, and passes, as well as reduce the risk of injuries during intense matches and training sessions. For boxers, wrestlers, judokas, karatekas, and other martial artists, the sauna serves as an effective means of recovery after bruises, dispersal of hematomas, and relieving muscle soreness.

Athletes of winter sports, such as skiers, biathletes, figure skaters, and hockey players, use sauna procedures for body tempering and adaptation to sharp temperature changes. Swimmers, divers, and water polo players resort to saunas to prepare for training and competitions in the aquatic environment, as well as for rapid recovery afterward. Long-distance runners, marathoners, and participants in multi-day runs benefit from sauna procedures to relax and relieve fatigue and muscle pains after prolonged extreme exertion.

Recommendations for Athletes Visiting the Sauna

Despite the numerous benefits, sauna procedures can be dangerous for athletes if certain rules and recommendations are not followed. High temperatures and humidity in the sauna lead to intense sweating and, as a result, dehydration of the body. To avoid dehydration and its associated negative consequences, it is recommended to drink at least a liter of alkaline mineral water before visiting the sauna to replenish fluid losses.


Furthermore, staying in the sauna is accompanied by an increase in heart rate, which the body is forced to do to maintain normal thermoregulation. However, for a heart muscle fatigued by cardiovascular loads, such additional stress can be detrimental. In conditions of heat and dehydration, the body begins to heal microtears in the heart with connective tissue rather than muscle tissue, which, over time, leads to heart failure and decreased performance.

Therefore, athletes are advised not to push the moist heat in the sauna to extreme levels and not to visit the sauna during weight cutting, immediately before intense cardio workouts, or right after them. It has been experimentally proven that sauna procedures before important competitions significantly reduce athletes’ strength endurance, so there should be a break between strenuous training and sauna visits for adequate rest and food intake. When simple rules are followed, sauna procedures bring athletes only benefits, helping them recover faster and prepare more effectively for new records and achievements.

Even sports enthusiasts can stay connected to the world of sports betting during sauna procedures using the Melbet Apps mobile application from the popular bookmaker Melbet. This allows them not to miss out on favorable odds and make bets on the outcomes of interesting matches and tournaments without leaving the steam room.

In conclusion, regular sauna procedures play an important role in the training system of professional athletes, contributing to rapid recovery of strength, body tempering, increased endurance, and performance. However, it should be remembered that without following specialists’ recommendations, the sauna may not only fail to bring benefits but also harm the athlete’s health. Therefore, sauna visits should be approached with due responsibility and caution.

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Last modified: April 26, 2024