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What is Flotation Therapy?

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What is Flotation Therapy?

This can simply be defined as simply floating in a tank that has been designed to get rid of excess stimuli, that in turn, assists the body in reaching a restorative state. The floating tank is usually filled with highly saturated Epsom saltwater, which makes the physical body to effortlessly and completely stay buoyant. Normally flotation sessions last between 30 to 90 minutes. They are carried out in body-temperature water in a personal tank in which no sound or no light can enter. Thus it creates a serene, warm, and relaxing environment for the body and mind.


Floating in saltwater solely for therapeutic reasons is not a new concept. People from around the world have been making pilgrimages to the Dead Sea for hundreds of years. Nonetheless, for the past 15 years, there has been a renewed interest in this particular practice with the opening up of chic flotation studios that provide 60 to 90 minutes float sessions cropping up around the world.

In 1954, the first sensory deprivation tank was built by neuroscientist by John Lilly. His main goal for building the tank was to study the effects of sensory deprivation on an individual’s mind. By removing an individual’s outside stimulation, he hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the concept of human consciousness. However, in the 1960s, Lily, with other scientists such as Timothy Leary, began experimenting with the effects of combining sensory deprivation tanks with psychedelic drugs like LSD. This resulted in controversy, and due to negative publicity, sensory deprivation tanks went out of fashion.

In the 1980s, the sensory deprivation tanks resurfaced as “float tanks,” and they were popular with the consumers. The industry at this time witnessed a huge spike in demand and sales. The price for one tank rose to approximately $10,000, and an hour-long flotation was approximately $70.

Modern-day sensory deprivation tanks still resemble the first tank that was designed by Lily. Spas and float centers around the country are offering sensory deprivation tank therapy sessions, which are easily available. The average cost of a sensory deprivation tank ranges from between $12,000 to $14,000, with the hourly rental rate per session being between $50 and $100 or even much more. To get started, one will either have to strip naked or wear a bathing suit and then get into the tank and float.


If you have ever drawn a bath at the end of a busy day to soothe your sore muscles, found mental and physical relaxation when swimming, or sought relief in rhythmic waves of the ocean or the calm waters of a lake, then you know the power that water has when it comes to relieving psychological and physical tension. Flotation therapy harnesses this crucial power and combines it with magnesium’s deeply relaxing properties, and the centering, calming capabilities of REST (restricted environmental stimulation therapy). Below are some of the benefits of flotation therapy:

1. Exercise Recovery

Research suggests that floating can be effective in assisting the body to heal and quickly recover from exercise. Float therapy can help professional, recreational, and regular athletes and exercisers recover more quickly and experience less pain. Sport and exercise are also significantly affected by sleep. Less pain means much better rest, and this will translate to more power, higher endurance, strength, and also a consistent exercise routine.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Arthritis usually comes in different forms and is usually accompanied with sleep-related issues. Flotation therapy has been found to be effective in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder; the joint pain is a result of the immune system attacking its own tissues. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing down of the cartilage, which protects the bone at the joints.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis both cause restriction on mobility, inflammation, stiffness, and pain. They also result in chronic difficulty in sleeping, and this also causes daytime fatigue. Research has shown that float therapy is effective in addressing anxiety and stress in both conditions; improving pain and function in osteoarthritis, increasing range of motion and strength in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis; and in treating pain in both conditions.


3. Stress-Related Pain and Muscle Tension

Numerous research studies have found that flotation therapy can provide relief from psychological distress and physical pain, while at the same time improving sleep quality. Flotation therapy is very effective in reducing the physical pain and muscle pain that is linked to psychological stress such as headache, back, and neck pain. Getting relief from intermittent and chronic physical pain and the psychological frustration which comes with it can eliminate huge obstacles for numerous people who struggle to get the rest that they need.

4. Creativity and Cognitive Benefits

Improved physical performance is not the only type of performance that will benefit from this therapy. Practitioners of flotation therapy have routinely discussed the powerful focusing effect that floating has on an individual’s mind and the creative juices that it unleashes.

Research shows that flotation therapy can reduce stress and tension, and result in an uptick in energy. This additional energy will likely boost the creativity boost of the floaters.


5. Fibromyalgia

Sleep issues are the most common symptom and the end result of fibromyalgia. The tender points and widespread pain which individuals with fibromyalgia experience make it very difficult for them to relax, get comfortable, fall asleep, and stay asleep. Research on the effect of flotation therapy on participants with fibromyalgia showed that the participants experienced a huge drop in pain intensity and pain sensitivity after each float therapy session – and over time, the pain-relieving benefits became more pronounced with more sessions completed.

The participants also experienced considerable improvements to ease of movement, muscle tension, and reductions in feelings of sadness, anxiety, and stress – and these benefits became more pronounced with each flotation session.

6. Pain Relief

Flotation therapy’s characteristics makes it perfect for treating pain. The removal of external stimuli from the float environment has the effect of removing the body’s internal stress response. Floating takes an individual out of the “flight or fight” state and takes him/her to the “rest and recover” state. The combination of  “fight or flight” stress response, inflammation surges, and excitatory hormones creates a trigger for the pain, and flotation gets eliminates this state so that the body can rest and start healing.



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