The heat of the sauna favors the so-called neurogenesis
Sauna visits promote muscle growth. The title of this article sounds almost unbelievable – but the effect really exists. A regular sauna visit can help to grow your muscles. Certainly not as strong as weight training, but constant dripping wears away the stone. And the sauna visits are also more pleasant than the countless hours spent in the gym. To understand this effect, we first need to look at how muscles grow.
Hypertrophy and hyperplasia
When we talk about muscles, we mean muscle fibers. These are the individual strands that make up muscles. You can think of them roughly as cells. That’s because muscle fibers also have a nucleus and can grow and divide. There are two different processes at work in this growth. The first is hypertrophy. Here, the muscle fibers that you have already thickened become even thicker. The second process is hyperplasia. This is where the cells divide and new muscle fibers are formed. Whether hyperplasia can be ascribed that much importance, however, is debatable. In any case, it does not make you stronger.
What is meant by hypertrophy
The essential thing is hypertrophy. When this process gets going, your muscles grow and you get stronger. It happens whenever you push your muscles beyond the normal limits. If you overdo it, you get muscle soreness. But what exactly happens in the body? As soon as you start growing your muscles, your body starts synthesizing proteins.
These proteins are the nourishment of the cells. Your body needs this nourishment so that the muscles can grow and perform better. But as soon as you chill out and stop using your muscles, your body starts to break down these proteins again. As a result, your muscles get thinner again and you get weaker.
Alternation of proteins
Your body is constantly switching back and forth between breaking down and building up proteins. It’s important to know that it doesn’t start shrinking your muscles immediately after a workout. As long as you move around and use your muscles a fair amount in your daily life, the body won’t break down protein for now. It’s a fine line, though. As soon as you use your muscles a little too little, they become less. The body then thinks it doesn’t need as much muscle mass. After all, it also needs to supply all those muscles with nutrients.
Grow muscles faster
But what can the sauna help with? One thing first: You can’t make your muscles grow just by comfortable warmth. You really have to work hard for that. But: The heat slows down the process of protein degeneration enormously. By making your muscles shrink slower, you make them grow faster.
Researchers have already shown this on rats. They formed two groups for this purpose. One group lived a normal life. The rats from the other group were regularly exposed to heat comparable to that in a sauna. Both groups had to report for regular exercise. After a while, the scientists found that the sauna rats had developed 30 percent more muscle. At the moment, studies are underway with humans, which so far have already yielded hopeful results.
The heat of the sauna can promote muscle growth by slowing down the breakdown of proteins. This allows muscles to grow faster. Studies on rats have shown that regular exposure to heat can increase muscle growth by 30 percent. Current studies in humans are yielding promising results. However, muscle growth requires regular exercise and adequate stress on the muscles.