KLAFS USA on why hot/cold contrast therapy and relaxation is key to bringing true wellness into your home
If you're reading this, you probably already know that having a private sauna or steam room is key to creating the ideal home spa. But what other features do you need to make your own personal wellness room feel more like your favorite spa?
The beauty of building a spa in the privacy of your own home means that you'll have 24/7 access to both the physical and mental benefits of hydrothermal bathing. This is a long list of evidence-based benefits, both physical (regulating blood pressure, improving circulation, etc.) and mental (stress relief, better sleep, etc.). But also there's another, less talked about benefit: a sauna or steam room is one of the few device-free bonding opportunities left (even smartphones don't like high heat)!
So what features are required to make your at-home spa effective?
To get the benefits of true hydrothermal bathing, you'll want to be able to do a cycle of “heat-cold-rest” and repeat this 2 or 3 times. First enjoy a high heat cabin (like a sauna), then follow this with a cool down (cold shower, ice bath, outside cold air), and, then, importantly, take the time to relax on a lounger to stabilize body temperature.
For this cycle to be effective, your sauna needs to be truly HOT, as hot as 200°F (a room heated via an infrared device, which will be around 98°F, simply won't cut it). Then, you'll want to find your inner "Wim Hot" (aka The IceMan) and expose your skin to a truly CHILLING experience (the colder the better, but at least no more than 60° F). The third component is a dedicated rest/relaxation space. And, finally, though it’s not a “must,” consider access to fresh air and outdoor space if possible.
01: Heat Therapy
A very hot Finnish-style sauna or a traditional hot and humid steam room are the best options. The first few minutes in heat (at least 104°F and up to 212°F), loosens muscles and quiets the mind. As the heat builds, a detoxifying sweat breaks out and the heat starts to do its real work, penetrating deeply into the body. After 12-15 minutes, your body will crave the euphoric relief of cold temperatures.
"Infrared sauna myth" - rooms heated with infrared can't get hot enough to be considered saunas. The only exception to this are ceramic infrared heaters, a common technology in Asia that can achieve similar temperatures as a traditional sauna. (For reference, the "German Sauna Standard" states that a sauna has to operate above 158° F to be called a sauna.)
02: Cold Therapy
Next. you'll want to immerse your body in freezing cold for as long as you can handle it—just a few minutes does the job!
Some prefer the shock of a plunge pool, ice bath or cold shower, but, as the benefits of cryotherapy (including pain reduction, improved immune function and overall resilience) become more mainstreamed, at-home spa suites are including more comfortable and convenient cold therapies, like a SnowRoom, cold room or ice room (temperatures as low as 5°F).
It's important to spend time bringing your body temperature and heart rate back to normal after being in a hot or cold room, especially after the last cycle. Try to spend the same amount of time relaxing as you spent during the heat cycle.
Take a refreshing shower and then wrap yourself up in a warm towel or blanket and settle in wherever you feel comfortable. Check out the KLAFS SWAY Sleep Lounger or LINEA Heated Lounger for the ultimate in relaxation. A short (5-20 minute) rest allows your entire body the opportunity to fully recover while encouraging the respiratory and cardiovascular systems to regenerate.