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7 Reasons to Steam Before and After Your Hike

More and more hikers are making steam showers part of their routine to boost their mental and physical wellness. Take, for example, TV Host and influencer JJ Yosh, best known for adventure hiking with his cat.  

Yosh has spent the past ten years incorporating steam into his routine. Initially, he only used steam showers occasionally at the gym. However, he soon got hooked and built a "steam cave" that he visits four nights a week. 

Athletes have already discovered how steam can give them a competitive edge. It's no wonder sports teams from the Miami Heat to the San Francisco 49ers installed Mr. Steam steam showers in their stadiums. 

Consistent steaming may help you:

1. Boost Your Endurance 

Steam therapy through thermic conditioning may extend your hike and help you reach new heights (or depths). Thermic conditioning increases oxygenated blood flow in the body. 

This stimulates cardiac muscle activity to strengthen the heart and reduce the risk of damage or injury. Research shows that two intermittent heat sessions lasting 30 minutes increased endurance output by 32% in some athletes. 


2.  Breathe Deeper and Easier  

Therapy may help reduce inflammation by triggering anti-inflammatory and hormonal responses that decrease muscular and joint pains and disorders.  

Steam also warms up the mucous membrane to reduce congestion. This may relieve coughs, throat irritation, stuffy nose, or headaches. Plus, steam opens up the airways to enhance deeper breathing.  

Compared to saunas, wellness experts recommend steam showers because a sauna's dry heat can dry up the mucous membrane.

3. Improve Muscle Regrowth 

Regular workouts can cause muscle breakdown and an increase in oxidative stress.  

Intermittent hyperthermia (increasing the core body temperature for short periods) may enhance the relaxation and rejuvenation of worn-out muscles.   

Intermittent hyperthermia produces a high amount of "heat shock proteins" to protect against a muscle breakdown condition called rhabdomyolysis. The heat from the steam increases the growth hormone levels in the body (temporarily) up to five times the ordinary amount. 

Growth hormone increases the IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor I), leading to increased protein synthesis and decreased protein breakdown.  

That means steam therapy may increase insulin sensitivity to boost amino acid uptake and enhance muscle regrowth.

4. Raise Metabolism 

Metabolism is the breakdown of food into energy that sustains life. Steam may help our bodies generate the heat needed for this chemical and physiological process. During steam therapy, you lose excess water weight and may increase your metabolism by approximately 20%.  

The increased metabolic rate helps us burn more calories to produce the energy needed for:  

  • Repairing cells  
  • Breathing  
  • Growing  
  • Keeping hormone levels in check  
  • Circulating blood to every body part  

5. Reduce Lactic Acid Buildup 

An intense workout session results in micro-tears in the muscle and lactic acid accumulation. This induces muscle damage and soreness.  

A post-workout steam therapy session may help you recover. The heat from the steam dilates the blood vessels. This increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood into your cells to flush out the lactic acid buildup.

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6. Clean Your Pores from the Inside-Out 

Steam therapy produces warmth that permeates the three skin layers to bring a potential detox effect. It increases hydration and blood flow and removes toxins from the body through the skin.   

A 10-15 minute steam therapy session induces a sweat response that helps flush out potential toxins. One Chinese study found that a 10-15 minutes steam session resulted in more excretion of heavy metals in sweat than urine  

Another study shows that sweating effectively detoxes Bisphenol A (BPA) from the body. BPA (an endocrine disruptor found in plastic bottles and other packaging materials) leaches into food and water resources, thus exposing humans to cancer, heart diseases, and male impotence.  

Research also shows that intermittent heat increases skin circulation. This provides the microbiome with antioxidants and nutrients that help prevent bacterial invasion.

7. Increase Blood Flow 

As explained above, when you step into the steam shower, your body responds to the heat by dilating blood vessels. Dilated blood vessels hasten the removal of carbon dioxide from the body, lowers blood pressure, and signal the heart to pump faster. This increases blood flow because oxygen rapidly circulates from the lungs to the blood vessels. 

Increased blood flow boosts endurance and triggers relaxation to help rejuvenate worn-out muscles. It brings more oxygenated blood to the cells to flush out lactic acid and aid post-workout recovery. 

Steaming at Home vs. Steaming at the Gym  

Steam therapy is a holistic mind-body health treatment with a potential detox effect. You can get steam therapy at the gym or home. To get all the benefits of steam, you should use a steam shower regularly.  

This means that you should consider installing a steam shower in your home. It is an affordable long-term investment that may help you detox daily to give your skin, mind, and muscles a healthy glow.   

Your inner hiker will thank you. 

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Topics: Health & Wellness, Sports, Performance, & Fitness