Floatation therapy is all the rage among celebrities and professional athletes because of its incredible training, recovery, and health benefits. Many NFL teams and professional American football players swear by the effects of a floatation tank.
When thinking about floatation therapy, think about those pictures of people floating on the Dead Sea. The water is so saturated with salt that people simply can’t sink. That is the same thing with floatation therapy, but only in a very controlled way.
So, what is a float tank and float therapy? More importantly, what are float tank benefits, and are float tanks good for you? Here is all you need to know.
WHAT IS A FLOAT TANK?
A flotation tank is a tank that is full of water that you float in. However, what makes these tanks special?
A flotation tank is full of water with an extremely high saturation of salt. The concept of the tanks is two-fold. To remove the physical pressures of life, by floatation, and the mental pressures of life, by eliminating all external stimulation.
It’s an environmental stimulation technique as well as a novel recovery strategy that turns the simple act of floating into one of the most effective forms of physical and psychological recovery you can enjoy.
ARE FLOAT TANKS GOOD FOR YOU?
In an interview with Men’s Health, high-performance consultant Brandon Marcello, Ph.D., who was also director of sports performance at Stanford University, said:
“Floating can create a cascade of physiological events which can help increase parasympathetic activity and down-regulate the nervous system,”
Marcello goes on to explain how floatation therapy is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress, pain, and pressure that everyday life puts on your body.
In plain English, the parasympathetic nervous system is what provides rest and quiet inside your body; the opposite of ‘Fight or Flight’ feelings.
In addition, the sensory deprivation tanks create a world where users say it feels as if their brains are floating in outer space. There is nothing but a “profound state of physical and mental relaxation.”
Float tank benefits have been clinically documented. A randomized controlled pilot trial regarding preventive health care intervention found that floatation therapy – restricted environmental stimulation therapy:
- Anxiety disorders
- Chronic pain
- Muscle tension
- Muscle soreness
- Sleep quality
- Sense of well-being
HOW DOES A FLOAT TANK WORK?
A floatation tank or float pod is full of manmade saltwater.
The tanks have a mixture of water and Epsom salts which creates buoyancy. The Epsom salt mirrors the salt saturation that you see in the pictures of the Dead Sea. The Epsom salt and water mixture is then raised to skin temperature so that your body seemingly dissolves away into the water as the Epsom salts did.
But, this is not simply floating. It includes complete sensory deprivation, which is why they are also called a sensory deprivation tank. It’s a sensory deprivation tank because you float in a room that is completely void of light or sound. This is also why float therapy is also called sensory deprivation therapy.
You simply don’t realize how much noise and junk is clogging your brain until you have the opportunity to genuinely reach a state of complete relaxation where no external stimuli exist and the outside world is turned off.
That is a float session.
THE BENEFITS OF A FLOAT TANK
The totality of benefits of float tanks has yet to be fully discovered.
STRENGTHENS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Your mood and your immunity are connected. Float therapy stimulates hormone production and regulates levels that directly affect mood and thus improve immunity.
Also, your body will absorb magnesium from the Epsom salts. The majority of people are deficient in this essential metal, and proper magnesium levels are directly connected to cardiovascular, digestive, musculoskeletal, and neurologic health.
DECREASE STRESS AND ANXIETY
Simply due to turning off the world, you encounter instant stress relief. Sensory deprivation is not as much about the absence of noise and light as it is about a state of sensory isolation for your mind. A sensory deprivation tank is a world without stress and anxiety, and float therapy is your ability to fully enjoy it.
IMPROVES YOUR MOOD
From being in a restricted environmental stimulation, your body switches into the rest and quiet mode where it naturally begins to better regulate hormone levels and production.
For example, cortisol and epinephrine are greatly reduced, whereas serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine increase. This means negative feelings are shut down and positive feelings switch into high production mode.
REDUCE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The void of gravity and tension results in your blood vessels becoming completely dilated and allowing unrestricted blood flow. This immediately lowers blood pressure and increases oxygen in the bloodstream.
ASSISTS WITH MUSCLE RECOVERY
Along with lowering cortisol levels, float therapy also decreases lactic acid. Combine that with highly oxygenated, low blood pressure, and your body essentially switches into a self-healing mode.
Possibly the most significant benefit of an isolation tank is that it’s extremely effective against insomnia and other sleep issues. Clinically, it helps your mind switch from Alpha waves to Theta waves, which is the portal to dreamland.
To be clear, detoxification is strictly an internal biological process. However, since float therapy puts your body into self-healing mode and optimizes its overall functionality, your natural detoxing processes go the next level.
REJUVENATES THE SKIN
Epsom salt is a very effective exfoliant for skin. Regular float therapy will not only provide an overall improvement in skin properties but is also an effective treatment for rosacea and eczema.
IS FLOATATION THERAPY RIGHT FOR YOU?
Leveraging the effectiveness of flotation tanks is something that the vast majority of the population can and should explore. Flotation therapy has virtually no negative side effects and has shown positive effects regardless of age, size, gender, or any other factors.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE A FLOAT TANK?
This is one of the safest relaxation methods. You can float every day. The key is maintaining a regular schedule of sessions. In our expert advice, most people achieve the most benefits by having 3 one-hour sessions every week. Remember, the benefits of floating last well beyond the day of the session.
CAN YOU GET SICK FROM A FLOAT TANK?
If you suffer from motion sickness, i.e., on a roller coaster or a ferry ride, then it’s possible you could have the same reaction with floatation therapy. Most people who have these symptoms with their first session find that it can be alleviated and can enjoy future sessions. For some, however, floating is simply not for them.
WHO SHOULD NOT USE A FLOAT TANK?
The following means you can’t use floatation:
- Suffer from infectious skin disorders
- Suffer from respiratory disorders
- Suffer from incontinence
- Suffer from uncontrolled epilepsy
- Serious mental health issues
- Having a high-risk pregnancy
- Are menstruating
- Have open wounds
- A recent tattoo
- Had your hair coloured or permed within 7 days
- Under the influence of drugs/alcohol
- Under 18 without parental presence
IS THERE A WEIGHT LIMIT FOR A SENSORY DEPRIVATION TANK?
Size and shape are not concerns, nor do they prevent you from enjoying a floatation tank. The only factor is whether or not you can safely get in and out of the tank. Remember, floatation therapy uses saltwater which can support anyone’s weight without any problems.
Float pods are safe, hygienic, and private. Virtually anyone and everyone can use and benefit from them. When all you have to do is lie in water for an hour to make the world a better place, it sort of seems worth a shot.
The only thing you need to think about is, are you willing to float on water as your solution to the chaos that is modern life?