Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The dangers on using saunas for judo, bjj and mma athletes

With the rise of mixed martial arts you may find that many amateur athletes don't bother about dieting for competition as they would rather 'cut weight' like the fighters in popular MMA TV shows. If you ever watch top-level cage fighting cards you more often than not hear the commentators mention that a particular athlete walks around at this weight and then cuts twenty pounds to make weight and then smashes a drip in his arm to re-hydrate and eat heaps of food. Although this sounds tough and crazy the fact of the matter is that cutting weight doesn't always mean sauna-ing a heap of weight. Cutting weight means having a strict professionally done diet as well as top-level strength and conditioning coaches monitoring everything that the athlete consumes. I know that some athletes have zero percent body fat therefore the sauna is the only option but what tends to happen is these athletes (that clearly could lose 2-3 kg of fat) are telling people they need to cut weight in the sauna and it's going to be so hard. These are people who are more than likely going to get hurt while sitting in the sauna as they don't know how dangerous sauna-ing really is.

Stereotypically saunas are used for relaxation and recovery sessions either for everyday life or in between training sessions. Usually in these recovery sessions you will do stints in a sauna and then hop into a cold pool for a few minutes and then repeat the process.

These days many Judokas, wrestlers, rowers, boxers and mixed martial arts athletes use a sauna to help them sweat a few kilograms of water resulting in weighing less and being able to fight in a lower weight division. Although this practice is considered 'normal' among athletes you need to be aware of the dangers that saunas pose to people wanting to 'cut weight.'

In 1997 a young wrestler in Iowa, USA was 'cutting weight' to fight in the 150 pound weight division. He collapsed in a sauna suffering from kidney and heart failure. In August 2010, a Russian man died of 2nd degree burns while competing in the World Sauna Championships.

Put simply saunas can be dangerous and should be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.

Within minutes of sitting in a sauna your:

• Body temperature increases
• Blood pressure increases,
• Skin pores open,
• You begin sweating,
• Muscles relax,
• Heart rate increases.

When you sit in the sauna for hours on end you are in danger of a variety of things including:

• Extreme dehydration,
• Loss of electrolytes,
• Heart attack,
• Suffering heat exhaustion,
• Feeling faint, dizzy, light headed
• Feeling like you want to vomit

The safest and most effective way to make weight to is diet and train properly. I highly encourage you to never use the sauna but instead seek dieting advice from a registered professional and if you need to move up to a heavier weight division then do so.

In saying that though there are times when I have had to go for a run and sweat out a few kilograms. This is highly not recommended and every time I have run to sweat a few kilograms it has been because I had not prepared well enough through other means such as diet. I highly recommend that you do not sauna to make weight as it is nothing more than ridiculous and can lead to serious harm or even death.

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