If you’re familiar with floating and sensory deprivation therapy, you no doubt are aware of the many benefits it has to offer.
Whether it be mental or physical, the list continues to grow as research discovers more about the processes occurring within the float tank. An often overlooked demographic that can benefit greatly from floatation therapy are athletes.
Physically, float therapy starts with increased magnesium absorption from the epsom salts dissolved in the water. In addition to relieving pain and muscle cramps caused by increased physical activity, this magnesium also helps produce serotonin and ATP in the body that help increase relaxation. Floating also has been shown to decrease the amount of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our bodies that naturally increases after strenuous physical activity. High cortisol levels have been associated with many health issues, including sleep disturbances, digestive issues, weight gain, and memory impairment. Lastly, the deep relaxation, coupled with the lack of environmental stimulation, allows your body to get to work healing any injuries it may have sustained in training or competition.
The mental benefits to the modern athlete may be the most exciting for athletes looking for that competitive edge. Growing up, several of my coaches utilized guided meditation before track meets or games to visualize the skills and talents we had been working so hard to refine. The lack of gravity and outside stimulation within the float room, and the ability for your brain waves to maintain a prolonged theta wave state, allows optimal conditions for these visualizations to have their best, and longest lasting, effects. The parasympathetic response is the body’s natural mechanism for healing and regeneration. It can only occur during deep relaxation, and floating allows that to be obtained quicker and longer.
Olympic teams from across the globe have used them in training their athletes. Professional sports teams and athletes such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United are known to use float therapy as a part of their training regimen as well. After finding out the numerous positive effects floating has on our bodies and our minds, it’s not hard to understand float therapy’s growing popularity among elite athletes, or even your local personal trainer.
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