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Sauna Therapy


A sauna is a small room or building designed as a place to experience dry or wet heat sessions, or an establishment with one or more of these facilities. The steam and high heat make the bathers perspire. Saunas can be divided into two basic types: conventional saunas that warm the air or infrared saunas that warm objects. Infrared saunas may use a variety of materials in their heating area such as charcoal, active carbon fibers, and other materials.

A steam sauna can take 30 minutes to heat up when first started. Some users prefer taking a warm shower beforehand to speed up perspiration in the sauna. When in the sauna users often sit on a towel for hygiene and put a towel over the head if the face feels too hot but the body feels comfortable. In Russia, a felt "banya hat" may be worn to shield the head from the heat; this allows the wearer to increase the heat on the rest of the body.

Heating caused by direct radiation will be greatest closest to the stove. Heating from the air will be lower on the lower benches as the heat rises. Provided the sauna is not crowded, lying on a bench is considered preferable as it gives more even temperature over the body. Heating caused by fresh steam can be very different in different parts of the sauna. As the steam rises directly upwards it will spread across the roof and travel out towards the corners, where it will then be forced downwards. Consequently, the heat of fresh steam may sometimes be felt most strongly in the furthest corners of the sauna. Users increase duration and the heat gradually over time as they adapt to sauna

Perspiration is a sign of autonomic responses trying to cool the body. Users are advised to leave the sauna if the heat becomes unbearable, or if they feel faint or ill. Some saunas have a thermostat to adjust temperature, but management and other users expect to be consulted before changes are made. The sauna heater and rocks are very hot—one must stay well clear to avoid injury, particularly when water is poured on the sauna rocks, which creates an immediate blast of steam. Combustibles on or near the heater have been known to result in fire. Contact lenses dry out in the heat. Jewellery or anything metallic, including glasses, will get hot in the sauna and can cause discomfort or burning.