By Carey Rossi for Prevention
Uncovered! The secret to touching your toes: Stretching in the sauna. The medical community has known for years that deep, penetrating heat can help transform your stiff muscles into bendy rubber bands—and now a new study shows just how incredibly effective it can be.
While any sauna will do, this particular case was made with research performed using a far infrared sauna (think of the ultrasound heat therapy physical therapists use, just without as deep of a penetration into the muscles). Michele Olson, PhD, a principal researcher at the Auburn University Montgomery Kinesiology Laboratory, had 12 volunteers sit in a far infrared sauna for 10-15 minutes, and then do typical stretches, like hamstring stretches, in the sauna. For comparison, the same 12 people also relaxed in a standard gym environment (which is usually 70° F, 50% humidity) for 10-15 minutes, then did the same stretches.