Almost a quarter of all MMA fights end with at least one competitor being injured. Sustaining an injury during a fight, or developing a condition that could keep your from the sport is a nightmare most MMA fighters try to avoid at all costs. Although some injuries will be impossible to avoid, creating a careful routine to prepare for a fight as well as intentional recovery will help limit injuries and allow you perform your best. Spas and saunas are an ideal way to both prepare for and recover from a big fight.
Increasing Athletic Ability
Besides the calm and relaxing effects of sitting in a spa, sauna or hot spring, the American Journal of Medicine has found that improving tolerance to heat by sitting in a hot sauna or spa may increase athletic endurance. This is because when your body is used to heat, it handles the increased body temperature of a fight or workout more easily. Heat acclimation can lower heart rate, increase blood flow to muscles, and even reduce the rate at which muscles use up glycogen during physical activity. Sitting in a sauna after a workout may also limit the breakdown of protein in the muscles and even repair damaged proteins, allowing for greater muscle growth in athletes.
Soft tissue injuries, such as strains to knee and hand ligaments, and severe bruising from taking hits, are par for the course when it comes to MMA fighters. But the dry heat of infrared saunas may be an effective way to recover from these injuries more efficiently. Infrared treatment for injuries has been found so effective in healing soft tissue injuries, that both athletes for Team USA and astronauts for NASA have been know to use it. Primarily, infrared therapy helps heal injuries through increased blood circulation. The deep penetration of infrared heat dilates blood vessels for greatly improved circulation and provides both pain relief and healing to the athlete. Infrared saunas also lower stress and detox the body through sweat, both of which allow injuries to heal more quickly. Relaxing in a spa or hot spring can also increase blood flow, and the minerals found in natural hot springs can help this process even more than just the heat.
Skin infections are a risk for any person who spends time in a gym, but MMA fighters seem to sustain a high number of irritating skin infections. Although there are many common sense practices to prevent skin infections, such as not sharing towels and wiping down gym equipment between uses, infrared saunas may also be an effective way to strengthen the skin against infection. The elevated body temperature and sweat produced by a sauna helps to detox the body, flushing away bad bacteria and toxins, and it may even kill bacteria that lives on the skin. Spending time in saunas may also increase the collagen and elastin found in your skin, making it tougher and less likely to break under the force of a workout or fight.
The ability of saunas to continue building muscle after a workout, and also heal injuries more quickly while also preventing against infection makes them an MMA fighter’s best friend. Spending a few minutes in the sauna after every workout or fight will show great improvements to your abilities, while also allowing for a well deserved time of relaxation and stress release.
Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.