Tips for the ideal sauna bath
Some basic rules for sauna bathing
- Do not eat heavy, stressful meals before going to the sauna, but also do not go to the sauna with an empty stomach.
- In the case of chronic illnesses, the consent of the doctor treating you must be obtained beforehand.
- Sauna bathing should be avoided:
- if you are clearly unwell
- if you have chronic diseases (such as severe heart disease, severe lung disease, inflammation, severe high blood pressure, kidney disease, epilepsy, hyperthyroidism)
- if you have the onset or existing cold, influenza, etc. (regular sauna sessions are ideal to prevent colds).
- In principle, only go to the sauna when you are dry (if necessary, dry off beforehand).
- During the warm phase (in the sauna) do not cool the body with ice or similar.
- A sauna session (especially the warm phase in the sauna) should last as long as you feel comfortable doing so.
- The plunge pool (during the cool-down period) should be avoided by those with high blood pressure or a weak heart.
- The cooling phase should be at least as long as the warming phase.
- Nicotine and alcohol should be taboo during the sauna bath.
- No sporting activities between sauna sessions. This would put unnecessary strain on the heart and circulatory system.
- In order to positively support the detoxification of your body, you should give your body enough liquid after the last sauna session. The fluid loss should be compensated e.g. with water and/or fruit juices.
- After the end of the sauna session, you should not clean yourself with shower gel or soap, just apply some lotion.
What do I take with me to the sauna?
Allow yourself at least three hours for your first visit to the sauna! A sports bag is best suited as a sauna bag. In your sauna bag you should have:
- A sauna towel (should absorb sweat well and be approx. 2 m in length).
- One to two hand towels for drying off after showering.
- A bath towel.
- Shower sandals.
- Toiletries such as shampoo, shower gel etc.
- Body lotion for after the sauna.
It is probably best to also pack some swimwear in case there is a swimming pool which can only be used if you are wearing swimwear; or you may prefer to wear swimwear during the time you are not in the sauna. Don’t forget to pack your comb, brush and (if necessary) your hairdryer, even if the sauna facilities often have hairdryers available. It is worth taking a pair of thick socks (especially in winter), which are comfortable for your rest period. If you have enough time and energy, you could also pack something to read as well. Finally a bottle of mineral water completes your sauna bag.
What should I wear in the sauna?
In Germany, sauna bathing is generally done naked. There are three reasons for this: on the one hand, the heat can reach the skin unhindered and free evaporation is not impaired. Furthermore, it would be uncomfortable to sweat in swimwear or something similar, because the sauna should be a place of comfort. Sticky garments would be perceived as uncomfortable.
The third and most important reason is hygiene! Swimwear would keep the sweat on the body and irritate the skin. This can sometimes cause eczema. You'll quickly discover that nudity is normal in the sauna. For women, there are often purely "ladies' days" on which the sauna facility is only available to women. This often helps to overcome initial shyness.
Beverages during sauna sessions
You will lose a lot of fluids taking a sauna. There are various theories, one of which is that you should not drink anything during your sauna as otherwise you will sweat mineral water.
Another theory is that you should drink a lot so that your body will be optimally purified. As with many things, the truth can be found somewhere in between. If you are thirsty, then drink as much as you need to (mineral water is best).
After your sauna you should always drink enough fluids. As to what you should drink, there are many suggestions. Mineral water is the most appropriate choice, but each person can decide what’s best for them. Drinking one to two litres after your sauna should supply your body with enough fluids.
Eating before taking a sauna
You should not have a heavy meal before taking a sauna, only a light snack. Your body is already working hard enough in the sauna and should not be additionally burdened with digestion.
If you do not wish to sit on your own in the sweat room or do not want angry looks from the other guests, avoid eating a lot of garlic before visiting a sauna as this smell spreads intensely with excreting sweat.
How to prepare for a sauna
Leave all items you don’t need for your sauna in the changing rooms. Take your sauna bag with you.
Take off all jewellery, your watch etc. as the metal will become very hot against your skin. If you really must wear an item of jewellery, make sure that you are wearing it when you begin your sauna as this way you won’t feel the heat so intensely. There is always a convenient place by every sauna cabin where you can store your glasses. If you do require your glasses inside the sweat room, bear in mind that they will become immediately steamed up after you enter the cabin. Contact lenses won’t be damaged, but they can however be uncomfortable if they begin to rub or burn. Keep the lenses moist by blinking every now and again, or simply close your eyes. Mobile phones should not be taken into the sauna.
First of all you should take a thorough shower. Cleaning yourself thoroughly is important for sweating as it gets rid of any existing film of fat on the skin, especially any traces of make-up and perfume. Clean and dry skin sweats more effectively. After your shower, dry yourself off well as drops of water on your skin will delay the sweating process. Please avoid putting on your perfume for sake of the other guests, as the heat of the sauna cause it to evaporate quickly and in a relatively small room this leads to an unpleasant cloud of perfume.
After showering, take time to check out the sauna facilities, inside and well as the areas outside the sauna. In some facilities you will also be given a guided tour and the individual areas will be explained to you. If that’s not the case, and you have questions, then speak to someone who’s an “old hand” at using saunas. Guests are generally very friendly and will gladly explain “their” sauna to you.
The sauna session
You enter the sauna cabin with your sauna towel.
You will find benches at varying heights: the higher the bench, the warmer you will be. Always sit or lie with your sauna towel beneath you. If in doubt, look at how your neighbour has placed their towel. The main rule in the sauna is “no sweat on the wood!” Don’t feel you have to stay in the cabin for the full duration of the hour glass (they mostly run for 15 minutes). The hour glass serves as a guide, but if you need to leave the sauna after five or seven minutes, then do.
As already mentioned: The higher up you sit down/lie down, the hotter the temperature is. At the start of your sauna it is recommended that you lie on the bench and therefore expose your body to an equal amount of heat. When your head becomes hot it could be uncomfortable compared to the rest of your body. The feeling of having “sweated enough” and now being ready for a “good cool down” does not necessarily happen at the same time. In general, this is the case after 8 to 12 minutes (15 minutes maximum).
If you are lying down in the sauna, sit up about two minutes before the end to get your circulation going.
It is important to cool down sufficiently after the last sauna session in order to avoid sweating in your clothes, among other things.
After the sauna, start the cool-down phase with some exercise in the fresh air. Your lungs need oxygen. But don’t stay outside for too long, as it will then take more willpower to use the cold shower.
The effect of cooling down: this also depends on personal preference, as with nearly everything to do with your sauna experience. Whilst one person may swear that after your sauna you should go outside into the fresh air, another person may insist you should cool yourself down with water. You should cool the areas furthest from the heart first (feet, legs, hands, arms and lastly your torso).
Afterwards, a warm foot bath ensures a pleasant and cozy warmth. Finally, you should rest for at least 20 minutes before the next sauna session. During this time you can let your soul dangle, read a book or simply enjoy the time with a few daydreams.
Taking a sauna and relaxing go hand in hand for many guests. Sauna facilities provide a relaxation room, as this is considered to be very important. There are often designated relaxation rooms found in various areas of the sauna facilities, which are partly fitted with comfortable couches, sometimes with or without blankets. There are meditation rooms, rooms with heated couches and much more.
A period of rest after your sauna sessions is important: see what possibilities are available to you and use them to relax. After each session in the sauna allow yourself half an hour’s time to rest, until you have found your own rhythm. Use what’s available to you inside the facilities: the diving pool, the alternating foot baths, the steam baths and much more.