Float Therapy For Recovery

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Floatation Therapy has come a long way since its science roots in the 1950s. Originally created to examine the origins of consciousness by cutting the brain off from all stimuli, floatation therapy has evolved into a source of alternative health care. It became more widely known in martial arts through Joe Rogan, who uses floating to unlock incredible mental journeys.

Although it could be pricey, much like other recovery methods (cryotheraphy, chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, IV drip, compression, hyperbaric chamber, light therapy, infrared sauna), the long term physical (and mental) benefits of float therapy could be pivotal for your recovery and mental health.

I discovered floating through a friend who recommended that I use this to supplement my chiropractic care and physical therapy. I began floating last June and have been floating at least 2-4 times per week since then (except when my float spa was closed during quarantine).

Here’s some of the benefits that I’ve experienced since floating:

Relaxation of ALL of the muscles. After days of hard training in a row, your muscles are tired and sore. Even with BCAA and protein supplements taken immediately after training, your muscles and joints still hurt. Sometimes even your brain still hurts from thinking about how you could have prevented everyone from passing your guard on an off night of training. Floating has taught me how to relax completely. Not only does the weightlessness loosen up your muscles, the thoughts of nothingness (or that quick nap) makes you feel great afterwards. If you have chronic pain, the more your float, the more it goes away.

Improved mental focus and sleep quality. Prior to floating, I had a difficult time sleeping, primarily because of my graveyard work schedule. After each floating session, I come out feeling relaxed, refreshed, and motivated. When it’s time to sleep, I have a much easier time falling asleep and stay asleep for a lot longer. Insufficient rest greatly reduces your ability to do physical work. Obviously if you don’t sleep well the night before, training at night, after school/work, will prove to be difficult and often frustrating if you’re having an “off” day/night.

Deep relaxation. Being cut off from all normal sensory input, including the pressures of gravity, it allows the brain to slow down and enter a deeply relax state. It is this state of brain relaxation which is the most interesting effect of floatation therapy, which is often paralleled to deep meditation. It is during this stage where some may experience “epiphanies,” self-realizations, etc. In fact, this is where the Jiu-Jitsu nerd could have major breakthroughs about techniques they are currently obsessing over.

Weight loss. There’s varying research on how/why Epson salt helps with losing weight. However, in my case, being in the float pod/chamber oddly feels like being in a sauna. While the water is barely above normal body temperature, I find myself sweating while floating, which could attribute to the loss of water weight. It could be a total fluke, but I’m definitely not going to deny the loss of some water weight and feeling less bloated.

During the three months that my float spa was closed, I definitely noticed a digression in my sleep quality as well as my overall mental health. This could have also been attributed to not being able to train, which I’m sure many of us experienced (and/or continue to experience) during the pandemic. Since my float spa has reopened, my sleep quality, mood, and physical health has been restored. 

Float therapy/sensory deprivation has a ton of benefits that differs from person to person. To rely on supplements alone will only help with the sore muscles, but not completely. In order to continue to have successful training, especially as we get older, our recovery has to cover more than just the physical aspect of it.

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