In our LivNordic Spas the Nordic Bathing is one of the core pillars. Nordic Bathing is unique and have enormous health benefits.
Raison d’Etre’s MD Anna-Cari Gund shares the benefits of the bathing rituals and why you should be brave and have a cold dip after the sauna. The tradition of saunas and cold baths runs deep in the Nordic bathing culture, with the first wooden saunas developed sometime around the fifth century.
At the heart of Nordic Bathing is the combination of extreme temperatures. Exchanging the cleansing heat of a saunas for the refreshing plunge in a cold bath has many benefits releasing muscular tension eliminating toxins and improving circulation.
Benefits of Nordic Bathing
Relaxation and stress relieving
Most sauna bathers say that stress reduction as the number one benefit of sauna use. The sauna is a warm, quiet space without any distractions coming from the outside. The heat from the sauna relaxes the body’s muscles, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s all-natural “feel good” chemical, and their release provides a truly wonderful feeling.
The endorphins can have a mild, enjoyable, tranquilising effect. Body temperature also rises from the heat of the sauna. This causes blood vessels to dilate, therefore increasing blood circulation. This increased blood flow in turn speeds up the body’s natural healing process. Great after a workout to promote muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate built up lactic acid.
Saunas flush out toxins
Deep sweating has multiple proven health benefits. Due to the heat of a sauna, the core body temperature begins to rise. The blood vessels then dilate, causing increased blood flow. As heat from the blood begins to move toward the skin’s surface, the body’s nervous system then sends signals to the millions of sweat glands that cover the human body. Sweat production is primarily designed to cool the body, and is composed of 99% water. However, deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and chemical – which are all toxins commonly absorbed just from interacting with our daily environments.
Cleanses the skin
When the body begins to produce sweat via deep sweating, the skin is then cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced – keeping your skin in good working condition. Sweating rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. Cleansing of the pores and by continually flushing body waste through individual cells, one eventually brings back vitality, tone and a healthy glow to the skin.
Improved cardiovascular performance
In the high temperatures, skin heats up and core body temperature rises. In response to these increase heat levels, the blood vessels near the skin dilate and blood flow increases. Even more cardiovascular conditioning takes place when the sauna bathing is taken in multiple sessions in the sauna separated by a cool shower or a quick dip into a cool pool or lake. Each time you rapidly change temperature (from hot to cool or vice-versa), your heart rate increases by as much as 60%, which is very comparable to the increase experienced during moderate exercise.
Can help fight illness
By regularly using contrast therapy (hot – cold) you will significantly reduce colds and strengthen the immune system. As the body is exposed to the heat of a sauna and steam, it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn helps to fight illnesses and helps to kill viruses. In addition, saunas can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus congestion from colds or allergies – especially when used with steam.
The Nordic Bathing Ritual just makes you feel good just feel good
A sauna not only feels good, it’s good for your body. As we progress through our stressful everyday lives, the sauna provides a pampering retreat – where we can relax and restore body and soul. In many Nordic cultures, a full sauna session includes 15 or 20 minutes in the heat followed by an ice-cold run outside, dip in cold water, or cool shower. The cold dip increases the sauna’s elevation of heart rate, adrenaline, and endorphins that ease your pain and lighten your mood. Due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, cold showers send electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain which results in an anti-depressive effect.
Once again science shows that traditions lasted for centuries for good reason. Taking the time and being brave enough to take an icy plunge, snow bank or cold shower after a sauna gives you more benefit than the sauna alone.