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Why Floatation Therapy is Perfect for Sports Recovery

Why Floatation Therapy is Perfect for Sports Recovery

Floatation therapy was pioneered as early as the mid-1950s by neuro-scientist D. John Lilly, with floatation tanks originally named “sensory deprivation tanks.” The scientific principle behind the treatment is called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique, or REST, which reveals that floating in an isolation tank triggers a deep relaxation response in the brain, reducing the workload on the nervous system by as much as 90%.

The result is a marked increase in the body’s parasympathetic response, which is the mechanism the body uses to regenerate and heal. Here on Elevation Floatation, we have also discussed how it even helps with chronic migraines. The therapy has gained many followers and it is widely used by professional athletes to help them relax, enhance performance, and recover from injuries.

The effect of floating in a therapy tank is a combination of an Epsom salt bath and a meditation session. The pods are filled with enough salt, over half a ton, to allow a person to float freely, giving the impression of low gravity, while the water is heated to skin temperature. The tanks almost eliminate both visual and auditory stimuli, to provide an ultra-quiet and dark environment to allow the deepest state of relaxation possible.

The effect being that the deep relaxation and positive health outcomes for those suffering from stress and muscle pain were significantly improved, while injury pain, depression and anxiety were significantly decreased notes a study in the BioMed Central journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine. The study also states that sleep quality showed a marked improvement, with test subjects reporting more restful sleep and feeling more rejuvenated. One of the secrets behind the benefits is the induced Theta state achieved during therapy.

When the brain enters this state the body naturally heals and regenerates. When combined with free floating, which almost eliminates the effects of gravity, joints and muscles are free to release all tension and fully relax. The effects on athletic performance speak volumes about REST therapy and while responses varied by type of sport, many athletes have reported increased mental focus, better performance, enhanced endurance and stamina, and improved physical recovery.

Former England soccer captain Wayne Rooney, is among the many who swear by the method. At 32 years old, the decorated soccer star is hoping to continue to play as long as possible and follow former teammate Ryan Giggs who played at the highest level into his 40s. Football website Coral’s feature on the ‘Top Ten Oldest Football Players’ reports that Giggs credited yoga and altering his game for extending his career. Rooney is also hoping to achieve a long career by exploring more advanced sports science like floatation therapy. He even owns a tank at home and uses it regularly, spending 10 hours in it every week.

In Australia, rugby teams, CrossFit centres and gyms as well as the Australian Institute of Sport use floatation therapy as part of their recovery programs as it aids muscle recovery, as well as recovery from sports injury. Australian CrossFit champion Amanda Allen has used the therapy to help her muscles and body recover from the strenuous sport. Brisbane Broncos’ Corey Oates, having suffered injuries that resulted in nine surgeries, has greatly benefitted from the therapy. It has helped with his rehabilitation as well as neuromuscular programming. According to The UBC Psychology Department, Dr. Peter Suedfeld of the University of British Columbia (UBC) also found that floatation therapy helps improve skills which can be enhanced through visualisation.

Floatation therapy has been linked to a range of health benefits, and the scientific literature supports its use as an effective recovery method with no known side effects. Australian Men’s Health quotes the former director of sports performance at Stanford University, Dr. Brandon Marcello in saying that floatation therapy helps to almost eliminate stress-inducing hormone cortisol which inhibits recovery. He goes on to say that the therapy creates a positive feedback loop whereby faster recovery results in better athletic performance.


Article written by ActiveRecovery18

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