Can Saunas really help with Back Pain?

saunas for back pain

Back pain has become increasingly more common among all age groups, disrupting our daily activities. Whether you’re stuck in a sedentary job, working a physically demanding job, or hitting the gym regularly, back pain is often an uninvited companion.

While back pain can be a nuisance at best and debilitating at worst, many who suffer from it have found short-term relief and long-term benefits within the warm, soothing ambiance or a dry sauna. 

The National Institute of Health conducted a study involving 37 individuals with low back pain wherein dry sauna therapy was performed twice a day for five consecutive days. The result shows a 70% reduction in lower back pain without any adverse health effects.

However, the benefit is not restricted to dry saunas; any type of sauna has a similar effect that helps reduce back pain.

Key Takeaway

  • Saunas offer significant relief for back pain.
  • A study highlights a 70% reduction in pain with twice-daily dry sauna sessions.
  • All sauna types, including traditional Finnish, infrared, and dry saunas, are effective.
  • Key mechanisms include muscle relaxation, improved circulation, inflammation reduction, detoxification, stress reduction, increased endorphin levels, and better sleep quality.
  • Regular sauna use can be an effective part of back pain management.

What is a Sauna?

A sauna is a therapeutic, enclosed room that provides dry or wet heat sessions at high temperatures. The intense heat induces sweat and detoxification by eliminating toxins through the skin, reducing pain and aches while providing deep relaxation.

There are several types of saunas, each offering a unique experience:

  • Traditional Finnish Sauna
  • Infrared Sauna
  • Dry Sauna
  • Traditional and Infrared Combination Sauna

Each type of sauna offers distinct benefits and experiences, allowing individuals to choose the one that best suits their preferences and needs. 

People who can’t tolerate the intense heat of traditional saunas can use infrared saunas for back pain. 

While traditional saunas use external heat to alleviate back discomfort and provide other therapeutic benefits, including muscle relaxation and improved circulation, the infrared sauna uses rays that penetrate deep into the muscle tissue, which can eting the pain point directly. This makes it a promising option for those who seek relief from chronic back pain.

Related: Ideal Sauna temperature

Sauna For Back Pain: How It Works?

Sauna therapy’s efficacy in reducing back pain comes from various physiological responses that occur within the body during sauna sessions. Here’s the science behind how sauna therapy helps reduce back pain:

Muscle Relaxation

Sauna causes vasodilation or widening of blood vessels, increasing blood flow to muscles, relaxing the tensed muscles, reducing stiffness, and improving flexibility. 

In addition, the heat stimulates the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), further contributing to muscle relaxation and pain relief.

Improved Circulation

The heat from sauna sessions dilates blood vessels, enhancing circulation throughout the body, including the back muscles. Improved circulation delivers oxygen and nutrients to damaged or inflamed tissues in the back, promoting healing and reducing pain.

Reduction of Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is often associated with back pain. Sauna therapy can help reduce inflammation by increasing blood flow and promoting the removal of inflammatory molecules from affected areas. 

This anti-inflammatory effect can provide relief from pain and discomfort associated with inflammation in the back.


Sweating is the body’s natural mechanism for detoxification. Sauna therapy induces sweating, which helps flush out toxins, metabolic waste products, and inflammatory substances from the body. By eliminating these toxins, sauna therapy may reduce inflammation and pain in the back.

Stress Reduction

Chronic stress can aggravate back pain by causing muscle tension and promoting the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. 

Sauna therapy offers a calming environment where individuals can relax and unwind, reducing stress. Lower stress levels can help reduce muscle tension and pain in the back.

Increased Endorphin Levels

Sauna therapy stimulates the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters acting as natural pain relievers. The increased levels of endorphins in the body during and after sauna sessions can help mitigate the perception of pain in the back.

Promotion of Sleep

Adequate sleep is crucial for managing back pain as it allows the body to repair and regenerate tissues. 

Sauna therapy promotes relaxation and can improve sleep quality, which may help reduce back pain by facilitating the body’s natural healing processes.

Do Saunas Help Soreness?

Saunas can effectively reduce soreness by improving blood circulation, relaxing muscles, and triggering the release of endorphins. The increased blood flow delivers essential nutrients to sore muscles while removing metabolic waste products, promoting faster recovery. 

Moreover, sauna heat helps reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, aiding in the relief of soreness after physical activity or exercise.


Sauna therapy offers a comprehensive approach to alleviating back pain, utilizing physiological mechanisms to address symptoms as well as the underlying causes.

Incorporating regular sauna sessions into your weekly routine can provide considerable relief, making it an effective part of back pain management.  

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