Floatation in sports science
We are often visited at our floatation centre by professional sportsmen and women who use the tanks for maximisation of training routines and for accelerated recovery from injuries and over training. This is a relatively new innovation in floatation therapy and new data is being produced all the time, although the Australian Institute of Sports regard the use of the float tank as an integral part of the training regime for their Olympic athletes. As we know, when it comes to sports, the Australians usually know what they’re talking about.
In 2008 we were honoured to have five British professional athletes from “Team GB” using our floatation tanks on a weekly basis, most notably Philips Idowu, Tasha Danvers and Jade Johnson, all of whom informed us that floatation tank use had been exceptionally beneficial for both the physical and mental aspects of their individual performances.
Shortly after Jade had been using our floatation tanks she was able to put a personal best jump of 6.81m, an Olympic qualifying distance, achieved in June at the 2008 European Cup in France.
Both Philips and Tasha went on to collect Silver and Bronze medals respectively at the Beijing Olympics.
Carl Lewis, arguably the greatest track athlete in history, used in-tank visualisation extensively in his preparation for his gold medal-winning performances at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
“When I first got into floatation therapy I tried it three times in a week and it was so beneficial that I had another two sessions leading into the 2008 European Cup at Annecy, France. It was there I jumped a personal best of 6.81m and qualified for the Beijing Olympics. I have always used Physiotherapy and massage to help injury recovery but floatation is different. When I float I can really feel a lot of pressure being taken off my back and when I compete I feel calm and my mind and body feels in balance. I think everyone should at least have one float in their lives, or they just don’t know what they are missing!”
“Phillips used our floatation tanks on almost a weekly basis throughout 2008 when he went on to achieve Gold at the 2008 Valencia World Indoor Championship followed by a Silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Triple Jump. When he first came to us he hadn’t been training for 6 weeks and was undergoing intensive physiotherapy”
Whilst floating, the pressure of gravity is taken off the joints and muscles and the body as a whole is put in to a high state of physical relaxation, with blood pressure and oxygen intake reduced but at the same time blood flow and the distribution of red blood cells increase. The combined effects are of particular benefit to athletes, speeding recovery from injury and assisting in the flushing of lactate, cortisone and adrenaline that may have built up either through training or performance.
Floatation has been shown to loosen the muscles and give athletes a greater degree of control over their nervous systems. This reduces the risk of injury during training or competition. Floatation not only accelerates the recovery process, but releases vast quantities of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.
Modern training methods focus on helping the athlete to master the ‘inner game’ to develop the perfect synchronicity between mind, body and emotion which is the hallmark of a champion. In the tank the athlete can attain the level of concentration necessary for visualisation to have a quantifiable impact on his or her performance.
Physical exercise can cause a build of lactic acid, which is often experienced as pain and a cramping of the muscles, and has been linked with the feelings of depression known as ‘post-game letdown’ which can affect even part-time joggers. Floating resets the body’s chemical and metabolic balance, thus reducing the risk of over training.
The effects of Floating
Following is a short list of some of the effects which have been reported by researchers and users:
- Promotes total calm, peaceful relaxation, eliminates fatigue and jet lag; improves sleep; alleviates stress- mental and physical; energises, rejuvenates and revitalises.
- Stimulates left/right brain synchronisation; shifts brain waves from Beta to lower frequency Alpha, Theta and even Delta.; creates mental clarity, alertness; increases creativity, problem solving; heightens visualisation; deepens meditation; expands awareness, intensifies acuteness of all the senses, accelerates learning.
- Enhances hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis; increases motivation, diminishes depression, anxiety and fear; facilitates freedom from habits, phobias and addictions.
- Improves athletic performance and helps prevent sports injuries and speeds the healing process.
- Decreases the production of Cortisol, ACTH, Lactic Acid and Adrenaline; Increases production of endorphins; quickens rehabilitation and recovery; relieves pain- arthritis, migraines, injuries etc.; boosts immune function.
- Improves circulation and distribution of oxygen and nutrients; reduces blood pressure, pulse, heart rate and oxygen consumption.
New research undertaken at the Human Performance Laboratory at Karlstad University by Swedish PhD, Sven-Ake Bood concludes that regular floatation tank sessions can provide significant relief for chronic stress related ailments. Studies involving 140 people with long-term conditions such as anxiety, stress, depression and fibromyalgia found that more than three quarters experienced noticeable improvements.
Mr. Bood commented: “Through relaxing in floating tanks, people with long-term fibromyalgia, for instance, or depression and anxiety felt substantially better after only 12 treatments”. Research targeted the effectiveness of floatation treatment with regard to stress related pain and anxiety over the period of seven weeks. 22 percent of the participants became entirely free of pain and 56 percent experienced clear improvement.
Broken down to various symptoms, the results were as follows: 23 percent slept better, 31 percent experienced reduced stress, 27 percent felt less agony and 24 percent became less depressed or got rid of their depression altogether. The research also confirms the findings of an earlier thesis that floatation, after only twelve sessions, substantially improves sleep patterns leaving users more optimistic and with reduced nervousness, tension and pain. Relaxing in a weightless state in the silent warmth of a flotation tank activates the body’s own system for recuperation and healing, said Sven-Ake Bood. What researchers find particularly gratifying is that the positive effects were still in evidence 4 months after the floating treatment ended.
Refreshed and revitalized
The “pure” physical relaxation of floatation is now known to trigger the body’s natural powers of healing and regeneration, which can be suppressed by the day-to-day stress of competitive urban life. Customers leave the tank feeling refreshed, recharged and revitalised. During a float session subliminal audio programmes for weight loss or the conquest of addictions such as smoking can be used to great effect. Floatation is the perfect complement for massage, aromatherapy and other natural health and beauty services.
Most important of all, floatation creates an exciting new dimension in customer satisfaction, relaxed equals happy, happy equals satisfied, and satisfied equals repeat business. The benefits, which have been proven to be cumulative, are outlined in our “introduction to floatation”.
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