Float Therapy (REST - Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy/Technique) has been used in the sporting world with great success since the early 1980’s. Some of the professional sports teams utilizing floatation therapy include, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Dallas Cowboys. In addition to these major sport franchises various athletes such as Steph Curry, Carl Lewis, Jade Johnson and Tasha Danvers have all used float therapy to improve their athletic performance.
Research suggests that float therapy boosts an athlete’s performance in multiple ways:
- Control over the negative effects of stress
- Elevation of mental training
- Decreased recovery time after demanding workouts or injuries
- Reduced production of lactate
- Sports Performance Improvement and Mental Training Visualization
- Injury prevention
- Pain reduction
In a float pod gravity isn’t a factor. The complete relaxation that it provides, gives all the muscles the much needed break they desire. The benefits are truly impressive. Inside the pod every single muscle in the body gets the rest it needs and the time to recover.
Epsom salts are made of magnesium and sulfate. These are muscle relaxants and protein builders for your joints. Not only can you truly decompress in the float pod but you absorb the minerals directly into your muscles allowing you to be noticeably less tense as soon as you get out.
For athletes, stress management is of the utmost importance. Floatation therapy has been used successfully in clinical stress management and has been found to reduce blood pressure, cortisol levels and other stress related neurochemicals such as norepinephrine, adrenaline and adrenocorticotropic hormone.
These neuro-chemicals are known to trigger the fight-or-flight response which is very good for lifting a truck off a trapped body or tearing out someone’s liver or running like hell in mindless terror. But they are not so hot for the kind of clear-headed strategy and perfectly coordinated finesse required in most sports. Float therapy puts the athlete in a calm, centered state of mind that allows them to work at peak efficiency.
Recovery Time, Lactate Production and, Pain Relief:
When the athlete is in the float pod, the actual rate of recovery post-physical exercise is enhanced. Recovery that would generally take a very long time gets compressed into just a few hours. Since floating in water that has high concentrations of epsom salt reduces the gravitational pressure on the body, pressure is taken off strained muscles, joints and bones. Blood is now able to circulate more freely and reach joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments that may be sore or injured. This increased circulation allows your body to carry away waste and biochemicals such as lactic acid, cortisol and adrenaline. Lactate production can seriously impede the ability of the athlete to think clearly. It is especially difficult to remain calm and concentrated in the final phases of a game or competition. By reducing lactate levels, floating has an extremely positive impact on strength of mind, strategic thinking, and mental clarity.
By reducing the amount of negative neurochemicals and increasing the beneficial ones, floating can also provide athletes with pain relief. The relaxation response created while floating increases the body’s production of beneficial hormones such as dopamine and endorphins, eliciting the body’s natural pain relief response. The release of endorphins coupled with the ability to become extremely aware of knots, tensions, and painful spots allows for athletes to heal faster and overcome fatigue.
Sports Performance Improvement and Mental Training and Visualization
Athletes that use float therapy in combination with visualization techniques experience a very significant improvement in their performances. As the person’s brain transitions into a theta state, it becomes much more open to suggestion. The central nervous system can essentially be trained to produce “perfect performance”. Today a number of athletes across the world use this technique to relax and up their performance in their chosen sport. Most recently basketball player Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors spoke of his performance increase due to floating.
Researchers have known for quite some time that an athlete's mental game plays an extremely important role in their performance. A 1998 study perfectly sums up why floating works so well to improve an athlete’s mental training suggesting that Floatation REST works to enhance athletic performance because it provides a profoundly relaxing experience in an environment conducive to greater amounts and better quality of sport related imagery, planning strategic thought processes than possible in other environments. The athlete is able to walk through each step of the technique, play, or game and fully focus on the visual, auditory, tactile and olfactory imagery.
Most sports injuries do not occur through direct physical contact, but by incorrect muscle tension, overstretching or pulled muscles. The best way to prevent injuries like this is to loosen muscles prior to exercise. In a floatation pod, general muscle tension is reduced significantly, even after just short periods of time floating. This can lead to substantially reducing the risk of such injuries.
By: Kristen Pearce – Drift Float Studio