When sauna time comes around, you want to be as comfortable as possible. While sitting with your back on the wall might be enough, what about laying down? Some people have the luxury of the space needed to lay down comfortably, but are there any benefits to laying down in your sauna?
If you have the luxury of the extra space, laying can be a great addition to a sauna session. The extra space is perfect for stretching. The warm muscles are more limber, allowing them ample chance to release tension.
Saunas have tons of benefits both for your health and mental wellness. You might not think laying down will enhance any of these benefits, but you’d be surprised. Laying down is not only more comfortable for some, but it can also benefit your sauna session. Let’s take a look at lying down in your sauna and see if you should be doing it.
Benefits of Laying Down in a Sauna
You might think that any position you find yourself in your sauna is sufficient. But, it might be hampering your body’s ability to take in all the benefits of sauna use. Yes, it might sound silly, but the truth is part of relaxing in a sauna is letting your muscles loosen up.
Most of us find ourselves in a seated position while in the sauna. This is an excellent position as it allows for most of your body to relax. Additionally, it allows for more people to use it considering you’re taking up less space which is especially important if you’re using a smaller unit like this barrel option (on Amazon).
Mixed with the heat therapy of a sauna, and you can help relax stressed or sore muscles. With sitting, there will always be some tension in your body. This is due to your core and other muscles holding your posture. While sitting can be beneficial, there is a more suitable position.
Laying down in your sauna is the best way to relieve muscle tension and stress. You might think there is some trick happening here, but in reality, the logic is fairly simple. When you lay down, you are optimizing the amount your body gets to stretch. Additionally, your muscles will be at their most relaxed in a resting position like lying down.
When your muscles are tense, the heat from your sauna can penetrate deeper. This results in a more efficient and effective sauna session. It will also give you the opportunity to stretch out if you need to. Since your muscles are warmed up by the sauna, they are usually more limber.
Benefits of Stretching In a Sauna, or After Sauna Use
There are so many benefits to stretching in the sauna. Since your body is warmed up by the heat, it tends to be more limber. This makes stretching even more beneficial. Adding stretching to your next sauna session is incredibly beneficial if you tend to exercise a lot or play a sport.
Stretching can be great both pre and post-workout (more on when to use a sauna in our guide). If you bike, run, hike, or whatever, stretching is an important part of recovery. If you are adding a sauna session to help your body better restore itself, then why not add a stretching session too? There are a couple of kinds of stretches you should be aware of:
- Static stretch — Static means you hold the position. When you usually think of stretching, these are the types of stretches that might come to mind. These are great to do in the sauna as they benefit from pre-warmed muscles.
- Dynamic stretches — These stretches will incorporate movement of some kinds, hence the name dynamic. These are usually used before a workout to help you limber up.
When it comes to what to do in your sauna (even a steam one like this one on Amazon), you can do both. Static stretches tend to benefit more from the environment, though. Some examples of static stretching are yoga poses. You usually hold these for a few breaths until the muscles release.
Dynamic stretches are best for before you exercise. Static stretches should be part of the equation too, but they are also great for post-workout. Regardless of which you choose to do, the important part is that you stretch in the first place. This is the best way to release the lactic acid buildup in your muscles.
How to Stretch in a Sauna
You probably have a good idea of what stretching looks like, but there are a few poses that can help when you’re in your sauna. The first thing to note is that which muscles you stretch will depend on what you are doing. While there are some great full-body routines, targeting specific muscles is a great strategy when things are particularly tight.
The first thing you want to do is watch your breath. Controlling your breath is a great way to get the most out of your stretch. Breathe in and out at a steady pace making sure to take full, deep breaths. This will help you time your stretches, push your muscles farther, and calm you down. Here are a couple of stretches to try out once you get comfortable:
- Jack-Knife stretch — Also known as a lying down forward fold, this stretch is great to relieve stress in your back and legs. Sit down with your legs extended, then reach toward your toes with your fingers.
- Back twist — From the same position as the jack-knife, put one leg over the other. Now, take your opposite arm and cross it over the knee. Your other arm should lay flat on the ground behind your back. Gently push to feel the twist in your lower back.
These are some simple techniques that can really help when you’re in your sauna. Obviously, this is only scratching the surface when it comes to what stretches you can do in your space. Cater your stretch sessions to your exact needs. If you suffer from shoulder issues, focus there. If you have bad knees, well, there’s plenty of stretches that can help with that too.
Don’t Fall Asleep in Your Sauna!
Sauna sessions are great, but they can’t last forever. Despite the fact they do help you sleep which we argued in our other guide, you still don’t want to fall asleep in one. While our bodies can get a lot from the heat therapy of a sauna, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In the case of saunas, you should monitor anything over 20 minutes or so.
It’s great to have a timer to watch your session time. This is especially important when lying down. Since it helps you relax more, laying down can be a recipe for a longer session than you might have wanted. If you are stretching, this means your body is even more relaxed. Always be careful, and heat exhaustion and dehydration can be real risks.