In KLAFS ABC of well-being, you’ll find the answers to the most important and commonly asked questions on saunas, spas, well-being and health. For example, can I use the sauna when I’m pregnant? How old should children be before they use the sauna? Is it true that steam baths are good for my skin? Do I have to take a cold shower after using the sauna? Does infrared light help if I have rheumatism? For the answers to these and many other health-related questions, take a look at our KLAFS FAQ for well-being. Escape from the hustle and bustle of life, and treat yourself and your loved ones to health, relaxation and well-being. To help you, we’ve compiled an ABC of well-being to explain the most important words and concepts from the world of saunas, spas and well-being. You’d like to know more about using the sauna in summer, reducing stress in the sauna, or sauna and weight loss? Find the answers in KLAFS ABC of well-being! Your health matters to us!
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Sauna bathing the right way
During the cooling-down phase, a warm foot bath significantly increases the impact of the sauna. We recommend you begin with a Kneipp circuit or a cold foot bath to draw out the heat stored on the surface of your body during your time inside the sauna. Follow with a warm foot bath. This expands your blood vessels, helping the blood to circulate better around the skin on your feet – and around your whole body. Reinforcing your circulation will make it easier to draw the extra heat from inside your body (your inner temperature will have risen by 1-2°C in the sauna) to the surface, where it can be emitted through your skin.
There could be various explanations here. First, it could be purely technical – was the sauna cabin preheated for an adequate amount of time? If not, heat will not radiate sufficiently from all sides, and you’ll only feel the heat close to the heater itself. Or were your hands and feet cold when you entered the sauna? If so, your whole body will need to get up to temperature first, so there will be less time left to sweat properly. Or perhaps you didn’t dry off properly before entering the sauna? In this case, your body didn’t need to evaporate any moisture of its own – the moisture was already there on your skin. And in any case, the amount you sweat is highly individual. Men sweat more and faster than women. Sweating is also a matter of practice. If you find you don’t sweat much at first, or you often feel hot anyway, you can train your body to sweat by using the sauna regularly. You can feel the effect of such “training” almost instantly – most people sweat far faster during their second round in the sauna. Frequently, however, it’s quite simply that the air is so dry at first that it’s able to fully and instantly absorb all the moisture on your skin. You are sweating – you just can’t see it forming on your skin. In other words, “no sweat” isn’t quite the same as “no moisture loss”.
To create löyly steam, a bucket of water (often containing fragrant essential oils) is carried into the sauna and ladled over the hot stones on the sauna heater. This fills the sauna with a cloud of fragrant löyly steam. As the level of humidity in the sauna rises sharply, you suddenly feel intense heat. This sensation is further enhanced by swirling the humid air around the room with a towel. Pouring water over the stones provides an additional heat stimulus which gets your sweat glands working overtime. During the procedure, the door of the sauna should not be opened. Water is generally poured over the stones towards the end of your sauna round – the crowning glory, so to speak, of your sauna experience.
It is important to shower before using the sauna to remove the oily film from your skin. This helps you to sweat faster. It’s also important to dry yourself thoroughly so that moisture on your skin does not slow down your sweating process.
The answer to this question depends partly on how you feel on a given day, and partly on how regularly you use the sauna. If you use the sauna on a daily basis (which, believe it or not, is customary in Finland!), one round in the sauna is plenty. If you use your sauna twice a week, it’s fine to add a second round. And if you only use your sauna once a week – or less – three sauna rounds are perfectly acceptable. But it’s not advisable to enjoy more than three rounds in the sauna during any one session. Doing so will not enable you to enjoy the benefits of the sauna more fully; in fact, overdoing it can have quite the opposite effect.
It’s a good idea to use the sauna once a week, every week, to increase your feeling of well-being and stay healthy. If you use the sauna once a week, it’s perfectly acceptable to complete two or three rounds in the sauna during your session. However, you should not stay in the sauna for more than 12 to 15 minutes per round. For those who are susceptible to infections, or suffer from high blood pressure, tension headaches or asthma, doctors recommend using the sauna twice a week. If you use the sauna twice a week, two rounds are quite sufficient. And keep an eye on the temperature and the time you spend inside the sauna; you’re not trying to break any records. There’s no reason not to use your sauna three times a week. But if you do so, make sure you don’t sit in the heat for too long, and make sure you cool down and rest thoroughly afterwards. And one round per session is quite sufficient if you’re using your sauna this frequently. In Finland, people often use their saunas on a daily basis – but they only go in once. If you’re running a half marathon every day or are engaged in heavy manual work, you certainly shouldn’t be subjecting your body to two sauna rounds each evening. How you feel – both mentally and physically – should determine how many turns you take per day and per week.
Sauna and health
One of the positive effects of the sauna is that it can help to reduce sleep disorders if these are caused by nervousness or restlessness. After a sauna, you feel deliciously drowsy, which helps you drop off to sleep sooner and means you wake up less often during the night. You might not sleep for longer overall, but your deep sleep phases are longer and more intense, meaning you wake up feeling significantly fresher and more rested.
Most people have a slight hyperacidity in their body tissue. Harmful substances can weaken your immune system, trigger pains in your joints or muscles, give you a headache, lead to problems with your digestion, or cause any one of a number of chronic illnesses. Using the sauna regularly helps to wash out harmful acids. “Sweating out” poisonous trace elements such as lead, cadmium and nickel in the sauna is a positive side effect.
If you feel a migraine in the making, taking a sauna can sometimes help to prevent the attack. But you should not use the sauna in the full throes of a migraine. Always listen to your body! If you suffer from tension-type headaches or migraines, using the sauna can relieve pain. But it could also intensify it. No two people react the same, so you’ll need to listen to your body carefully and experiment to find out what’s best for you.
All blood vessels – whether veins or arteries – expand in heat. As a result, people say you should avoid warm baths and warm climates if you suffer from vein disorders, so as not to put yet more strain on veins which are already enlarged. With a sauna, however, the brief dilatory stimulus is followed by a cold stimulus which makes veins and arteries contract suddenly. So it’s like targeted exercise for your blood vessels. This is why pregnant women with expanded veins can still use the sauna. To exercise your veins effectively, cover any large lumps with a cold, damp cloth whilst in the sauna, and make sure you cool your legs down immediately and thoroughly after leaving the sauna. Drink plenty to ensure your blood does not thicken. Overall, using the sauna improves your blood flow to such an extent that it actually reduces the risk of thrombosis, varicose veins and other vein disorders. However, if you are suffering from an acute thrombosis or acute superficial thrombophlebitis, do not use the sauna until the symptoms have been resolved.
Yes! Regular use of a sauna will strengthen your immune system, increase your cardiovascular fitness and make you feel better and healthier all round. Taking a sauna has an intensive and long-term recovery effect, which in turn makes you less susceptible to catching a cold.
Eucalyptus spruce and pine needles have a soothing effect on your respiratory tract. Citrus oils make you feel more cheerful and active. They also have a calming effect, and can help you concentrate better. Rosemary has an invigorating, stimulating effect; lemon balm relaxes you; and camomile is good for your skin. Use sparingly, as you’ll also be inhaling oil particles. For this reason, you should use only high quality oils.
There are many good reasons for using a sauna, quite apart from the feeling of well-being it brings. The most significant observation scientists have made is the capacity of the human body to adapt to different temperatures, and the resulting long-term decrease in core body temperature. After a matter of weeks, regular sauna-goers begin to sweat more healthily and more efficiently. In winter, they feel the cold less than others, whilst in summer, they suffer less from extreme heat. Over time, the body learns to release more heat. After using the sauna just ten times, the skin temperature rises thanks to improved circulation. Whilst the body is better able to release heat on the one hand, the accompanying diminishment in its insulating effect – caused by regular heating up and sweating in the sauna – leads to a long-term decrease in your core body temperature. Within just a few weeks, the core body temperature of tests persons had sunk by 0.5°C. However, they did not register this drop by feeling cold; their bodies simply thermally adjusted to the new body temperature. A 0.5°C lower core body temperature increases your life expectancy by at least five years. And even if your body does not thermally adjust until you’re middle aged, you can still add two or three years to your life expectancy. The thermal adjustment to which sauna goers subject themselves by alternating between hot and cold also decelerates various aging processes. Most life processes are temperature-sensitive. In general, most processes are accelerated by heat, whilst cold can have the opposite effect. To benefit from the health advantages described above, you should heat the sauna up to 90°C and shower off afterwards with cold water. Japanese studies have shown that the expansion of blood vessels triggered by alternating between hot and cold in the sauna can help to combat arteriosclerosis. A lower core body temperature also means that your body releases fewer free radicals. These are responsible for speeding up the aging process. Classic sauna use – two or three rounds, each lasting ten to fifteen minutes – is the most effective way of steeling your body. In order for blood vessels to expand, you need the hot air followed by a cooling process – alternating between hot and cold, in other words. Nothing could be more simple than reaping the benefits of regular sauna use in your own home; KLAFS, global leader in the manufacture of saunas and spas, offers attractive designs and ideas for fortifying your body and soul in one of the most appealing ways possible. With designs and solutions for every conceivable type of room, your home sauna is destined to become your own personal fountain of youth and health.
You should only use a sauna when you’re in good health. If you’re suffering from an acute illness (e. g., flu) you should be in bed – not in the sauna. As soon as you’re well enough to get out of bed and no longer feel weak or faint, you can start using the sauna again.
Cooling down thoroughly after using the sauna brings your core body temperature back down from high to normal, so it’s unlikely that you would catch cold from the process. However, to make sure you definitely don’t catch a cold from using the sauna, you should make sure you follow the golden rules of cooling down properly. If you’re cooling down in the fresh air, don’t stay outside until you begin to shiver, and then make it even worse by showering off with cold water. You want to cool down – not catch hypothermia. The other extreme is re-entering the sauna cabin before you’ve cooled down thoroughly, and then once again fail to cool down after the second round. This completely disrupts your body’s regulatory system. If you go back to business as normal after a sauna without cooling down properly first, you’ll find you’re more susceptible than ever to the cold. Your entire body (expanded blood vessels) is crying out to cool down. Draughts or other cold stimuli will make you feel cold only in places – and you’ll be more likely to catch a cold. Post-sauna sweating with a hot pack is not a good idea either; it only serves to confuse the body. Any parts of the body not covered by the hot pack (head, neck) emit more heat, and are thus more susceptible to draughts. So it’s important to follow a clear, strong heat stimulus with a clear, strong cold stimulus in order for the thermostat inside your body to react properly.
You lose weight whenever you use the sauna – according to your bathroom scales. However, you’re not really losing fat. Sad to say, it’s only water. And as soon as you have a drink, you’ll put it straight back on. It’s true that sweating and increasing your heart rate burns calories (energy), but on the other hand, the warmth gives your body energy. So using a sauna is completely neutral for your calorie count. However, if you’re a stress eater or a comfort eater, a relaxing sauna can be a great alternative to food – and thus help you lose weight.
The heat of the sauna stimulates your vegetative nervous system, whilst cold water in the cooling phase causes your blood vessels to retract again. The cold stimulus makes your expanded blood vessels contract suddenly to prevent them from losing any more heat. This “trains” your blood vessels in a highly effective manner – particularly your veins, which don’t otherwise have much opportunity for such exercise.
Studies conducted at the Charité medical school in Berlin have shown that using a SANARIUM regularly® can help to lower blood pressure, and that regular use of a sauna can help to stabilise your vascular system. Some patients were even able to discard their blood pressure medication as a result. However, please note that before using a sauna, you should always check first with your GP if you taking medication of any description. Beta blockers, for example, which are prescribed against high blood pressure, can prevent your heart rate from accelerating, which in turn hinders the cooling down process in your blood vessels. Your GP will be able to advise you based on your state of health. If you have high blood pressure or another serious illness which has not yet been brought under control, you should not subject your body to undue stress by using a sauna.
Wellness and health
Like sunlight itself, a solarium makes you feel happier and more energetic. It also encourages your body to produce more vitamin D, which is essential for your health. Not only is vitamin D necessary for the health of your bones, but it also plays an active role in more than 36 other bodily functions! During the winter months, many people suffer from an inadequate supply of vitamin D. Sometimes we quite simply don’t have the time to go outdoors and soak up the sun. So well filtered, artificial sunlight is a safe and convenient alternative.
All about skin
Modern tanning technology is able to mimic the UV spectrum of sunlight. This means that you not only tan gently; you also reap all the health benefits of natural sunlight. Without damaging your skin by getting sunburnt. In contrast to the sun, the solarium settings allow you to adjust the time and intensity according to your skin type.
In the sauna, you may possibly feel a burning sensation on parts of your body that don’t naturally have many sweat glands – your shins, for example – if the heat stimulus is too great. You can counter this by rubbing sweat from other areas of your body over the affected parts to cool them.
Yes! In the long-term, using a sauna can help prevent skin deficiencies and ensure your skin receives the nutrients it needs. This has now been proven in a scientific study conducted in Jena University Clinic: here, the barrier function of the skin was stabilised in test subjects who used the sauna regularly. Thanks to improved circulation, skin does not dry out so quickly, and the fat content of the skin is regulated.
Some people are very surprised to find that they erupt in goose pimples when they enter a hot sauna. Goose pimples are normally a sign that you feel cold – which is hardly the case in a hot sauna. If this happens to you, don’t worry. Nothing is wrong; there’s a very simple and rather intriguing explanation. In order for us to “feel” the temperature, our skin contains various sensory cells, sometimes called receptors. Some enable us to feel heat, whilst others enable us to feel cold. We have a far higher number of cold receptors than heat receptors. When you enter the sauna, your body can react sometimes in an unusual manner. Your cold receptors are bombarded by a strong stimulus – the hot air. They process this information incorrectly, and react as though they were being bombarded with cold. By coming up in goose pimples. It’s a completely harmless reaction, and passes as soon as your body interprets the stimulus correctly.
A medical multi-talent, steam baths can not only cleanse and strengthen your respiratory tracts and boost your circulation, but also relieve tense muscles and leave your skin feeling silky soft. Steam baths are so full of moisture that tiny droplets – steam – begin to form. The air is so humid that it is unable to absorb much of the moisture you sweat. For this reason, the temperature inside a steam bath is considerably lower than in a sauna – normally 40°C or less. When you enter a steam bath, some of the moisture in the air even settles on your skin.
Acne is a chronic skin disorder in which the skin’s pores become clogged due to increased sebum production. As a result, skin is covered with whiteheads, blackheads and pimples. Although it might not always be advisable to use a public sauna if you have acne, a private sauna is a completely different matter. Here, you can enjoy all the positive effects and health benefits. If you’re about to see a beautician to have pus extracted, for example, having a sauna first to expand your pores can be very beneficial. Above all, sweating in the sauna has an extremely purifying effect. The extreme heat makes sebum more watery, and washes out bacteria, dead cells and dirt particles. This cleanses your skin deep down, making it look and feel much sleeker. In fact, your whole complexion is left looking rosier, fresher and smoother.
The terminology: Infrared heat cabins (the official term used by the RAL Association) are often simply called “infrared cabins”. Sometimes they are also referred to as infrared saunas. In an infrared heat cabin, your body primarily absorbs the heat generated by an IR radiator or similar component, such as IR foil which heats the walls. Generally speaking, the temperature inside an infrared heat cabin is 40-45°C.
In a sauna, you feel wonderfully warm because your body absorbs heat from the hot air. The walls and the sauna heater also radiate heat that your body then absorbs. But in an infrared heat cabin, your body primarily absorbs the heat generated by an IR radiator or similar component, such as IR foil which heats the walls. You absorb only a negligible amount of heat from the air itself. From a physiological point of view, infrared cabins have virtually the same effect as saunas. At least, this is the case where Klafs infrared system is used, since this ensures the radiation is not so intense as to have a negative effect, yet still intense enough to make you feel warm all over. Infrared cabins, however, are unable to have the same positive effect on your skin and respiratory system as would löyly steam or aroma baths in the SANARIUM®; nor do you alternate between hot and cold as you would in a sauna. Attempts to strengthen one’s immune system by cooling down in the fresh air or with a cold shower after a turn in an infrared heat cabin are generally not found to be pleasant.
The mild radiant heat gently warms your skin, and is a powerful weapon to: - increase your core body temperature as a preventive health measure - support your kidneys - reduce blood pressure - improve peripheral circulation - increase heart rate - increase the flow properties of blood - enlarge peripheral vessels - improve circulation to the skin, thus providing skin with more oxygen and nutrients.
Before and after entering a heat cabin, make sure you drink plenty of water. Eating fruit will also help normalise your calcium level. However, you should not go into an infrared cabin on a full stomach. The cabin should be heated to 35°-40°C. Wash and dry yourself thoroughly. Each round should last for 20 to 30 minutes. Whilst in the cabin, sit or lie down as you wish. If you feel at all unwell during the session, you should leave the cabin. Afterwards, we recommend you take a lukewarm or warm shower, and rest for 10 to 20 minutes.
When you use a sauna, you’re in effect voluntarily subjecting your body to extreme conditions – with a standard sauna temperature between 90°C and 100°C being followed by cooling down, sometimes below 0°C. Whilst in the sauna, the temperature of your skin rises faster and differently to the temperature inside your body, which never actually increases by more than 1-2°C. After around 10 minutes in the sauna, however, the temperature of your skin increases to 40-42°C. In technical jargon, this is known as hyperthermia, and is one of the positive effects of using the sauna. It significantly stimulates and increases the turnover of various substances – your metabolic rate, in other words. Raising your body temperature from 37°C to 38-39°C is like inducing an artificial fever. Unlike your body itself, numerous bacteria and viruses which can make us ill are unable to cope with such high temperatures, which means that using a sauna can be an effective way of combating infections before they attack.
In general, there is no reason why a woman should not use the sauna during her period. If your periods are too light, using the sauna regularly can improve your condition by increasing the flow of blood to the uterus. Using the sauna can also help to relieve period pains, since warmth has a soothing effect on cramp-like pain; many women use heat cushions for the same purpose. Take care, however, when cooling down after the sauna, and refrain from Kneipp practices. During your period, you should exercise caution when cooling down, and not hose down your stomach area with cold water.
Children have just as many sweat glands per square centimetre of skin as adults, so they can react to heat just as adequately. The only essential difference between children and adults is the surface area of their skin. Their heads and torsos are larger in proportion to their arms and legs, which mean they absorb and emit heat faster – particularly as they also generally have a thinner layer of fat. Children of all ages – including babies – may use the sauna. And they tend to love the experience! But they should always be accompanied by an adult, and they should never stay inside the sauna for too long.
When somebody suffers a heat stroke, they go into circulatory shock. Some even lose consciousness or fall into a coma. A heat stroke is caused by a sharp rise in the temperature inside the brain, which in turn causes the breakdown of some brain functions. Such a rise in temperature may occur if the body’s normal regulatory mechanisms fail – in other words, if a person is unable to sweat or otherwise emit heat for any reason. In the sauna, your skin is able to compensate for the change in temperature by sweating, and isn’t hindered by clothing. Even if you can’t see sweat on your skin, you’re still losing moisture and thus cooling down. In any case, you only subject yourself to the high temperature for a matter of minutes – following which you actively cool down. To make sure you sweat profusely, it’s advisable to drink copiously during the day before using the sauna. Sweating is also a matter of practice; you can train yourself to sweat by not staying in the sauna for too long during the first round, and then increasing the length of time with each succeeding round. Last but not least, sitting in a sauna is not nearly as stressful for your circulatory system as hard manual work in the heat, or exercising hard – nor do your muscles generate so much heat!
Those who have always used a sauna regularly can continue the habit right up into old age. However, if you suffer from heart problems, a vascular complaint, high blood pressure or vein troubles, you should first talk to a doctor who understands saunas, as your body could react differently – and unexpectedly – depending on what medication you’re taking. Older persons who have never before used a sauna can begin to do so, so long as they are not suffering from any complaints or illnesses which cannot be treated adequately with medication or by other means. If you have a heart complaint or high blood pressure which have been stabilised , there is no reason why you should not enjoy using a sauna. On the contrary – it can help to support your course of treatment. For those – regardless of age – taking their first steps into the world of saunas, we recommend the SANARIUM® or infrared heat cabin with milder temperatures.
In principle, pregnant women can use the sauna. In fact, it can have a positive effect on both the pregnancy and the birth. Women who regularly use the sauna can continue to do so throughout their pregnancy. Women who are pregnant but have never used a sauna before should wait until the fourth month of their pregnancy. This is because many pregnancies miscarry during the first three months. Avoiding the sauna simply means avoiding a guilt trip if the pregnancy were to end in this way following the new experience. Some people voice their concern about vein health. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can sometimes lead to varicose veins. Where this is the case, the veins generally return to normal after the birth. However, whether pregnant or not, varicose veins alone should not hinder people from using a sauna.
To create a pleasant, mild and salubrious atmosphere in the sauna, most of the interior needs to be manufactured from wood. Expansive glass fronts and stone walls may be contemporary and aesthetically pleasing, but the more wood, the better the climate in the sauna. Because only wood is capable of absorbing heat evenly during the warming-up phase, and later emitting it again evenly. Wood is also capable of absorbing the increased moisture in the air when water is poured over the hot stones, keeping the humidity level inside the sauna below 10% even when the temperature of the air is 90°C. Another major advantage of wood is that it does not heat up through thermal conductivity to the same extent as other materials, so sauna-goers don’t get burned.
Incorporating two or three levels in the sauna enables sauna goers to choose the temperature they prefer. The temperature on level two is generally around 60°C, whilst on the top level it is around 70°C. If you sit in an upright position on the top level, the temperature at head level is generally around 90°C. Hence you can enjoy different sauna temperatures simply by choosing to sit or lie on the second or third bench.