Accelerate Regeneration After Sports

Sauna or cold chamber: What really helps you to recover more quickly after exercise? We get to the bottom of the matter.

Sauna or cryotherapy chamber: What supports rapid regeneration after sports? Sport promotes health and fitness. Not only does it strengthen the cardiovascular system and muscles, it also stimulates metabolism and improves mood. But what measures help you to regenerate quickly after a workout? Proper nutrition and good sleep are just as important as sauna sessions and cold applications. But when is it better to expose yourself to cold after training, and when is it better to use heat?

Dr. Maximilian Schubert, Medical Director at MAYRLIFE Medical Health Resort Altaussee, explains the effects of cold and heat on the body: "Cold has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects. It can alleviate muscle tension and depressive states of mind. Heat, on the other hand, stimulates circulation, which in turn promotes metabolism.

  • “Both can be beneficial for regeneration after training sessions. The trick lies in the right application at the right time.”
    Dr. Maximilian Schubert
    medical director
    at MAYRLIFE Medical Health Resort Altaussee

Optimal Regeneration in Sports Through Use of Cold

To understand which measures best support the body's recovery after sports, it's important to know what happens in the body during a workout. During sports, whether that be a strength or cardio session, muscles are contracted more intensively. It's natural that with more intensive or unfamiliar stress, small tears in muscle fiber occur. They are necessary to enable muscle building during the recovery phase afterwards.

However, if a muscle is stressed too much, microscopic fiber tears can also occur within the smallest unit of the muscle, the sarcomere. This provokes inflammatory processes in the body. Water penetrates the fibers and causes the affected muscle to swell. This is ultimately perceived as stretching pain in the muscle fascia and is what we know as classic muscle soreness.

"After intense training sessions, cold applications can help the body regenerate faster. "Just a short exposure to extreme cold of 30 seconds to three minutes is enough to contain inflammatory processes, strengthen the immune system, and relax tense muscles," explains Dr. Maximilian Schubert. It doesn't always have to be whole-body cryotherapy or a stay in the cryotherapy cold chamber. Even showering the strained body parts with very cold water or jumping into a cold lake can support the body's regeneration directly after sports.

That said, if muscle soreness has already occurred, heat should be the first choice. Heat promotes blood circulation in the body. This, in turn, improves metabolism and can help cure muscle soreness faster, since the micro-injuries are then able to heal better.

Does Heat Promote Better Regeneration After Sports?

What could be nicer than going to the sauna after training? A sauna session immediately after demanding physical activity can promote physical and mental relaxation. However, it should be enjoyed with caution since the body is still somewhat heated immediately after training. So, if you visit the sauna for regeneration after sports, it may strain your circulatory system. Instead, wait until your body has cooled down again after training and ensure you drink enough water throughout the day. At that point, there is generally nothing to prevent a sauna session – as long as you don't overdo it.

The heat in the sauna makes the heart beat faster and stronger. The small blood vessels in the body dilate, improving circulation. The mucous membranes in the nose, mouth, and throat are also better supplied with blood, strengthening the defenses in these areas. Regular sauna sessions generally strengthen the body's immune system, as the heat not only increases the temperature of the skin but also in the body core. It creates a kind of artificial fever that activates the defense cells in the body.

The increased circulation promotes regeneration processes in the body, especially muscle regeneration, which can alleviate or even prevent muscle soreness. However, to avoid overstraining the cardiovascular system, ensure that a sauna session does not last longer than eight to twelve minutes.

Especially important is cooling down after. An ice-cold shower, a short cooldown in the snow or in a cold lake causes the small blood vessels to contract immediately again. This training effect results in better blood pressure regulation and improved performance. The sudden cooling also causes the heart to beat calmly and strongly during the subsequent relaxation phase, making you feel refreshed and recovered.

Step by Step to Improve Regeneration After Sports

Consciously exposing yourself to the cold may be a big step for some. So, what to do in order to benefit from the health-promoting effects of the cold? "Start with alternating showers, or – if you are very sensitive – initially only shower your lower legs with cold water. Once you are used to it, you can progressively increase the exposure," advises Dr. Maximilian Schubert, Medical Director at MAYRLIFE Medical Health Resort Altaussee. "It doesn't have to be a jump into cold water right away. Ultimately, it's also about finding the optimal stimulus, to which end a gradual acclimatization to the cold can prove very useful. Before using a cryotherapy chamber, it is always advisable to consult a doctor to rule out any possible contraindications." 


Sauna and Cold: Both are Used at MAYRLIFE

Sauna and cold applications can both be useful in promoting health and well-being. In our MAYRLIFE-Programs, we optimize their use to meet your personal needs. Because, no matter whether it's nutrition, relaxation methods, or applied therapies: with us, you receive only what you personally need to be healthy. Cryotherapy may be considered as part of the program, as may nasal reflex therapy or osteopathy. 

Contact our team to find out which of our programs is right for you.

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