For many of us, thinking of a professional athlete is to think of their hard work, dedication, drive, and, ultimately, their success. Athletes spend countless hours training themselves to be their best. Through consistent workouts and practice, athletes are constantly breaking down their bodies and rebuilding them more efficiently.
Consider the Olympics. Michael Phelps started swimming competitively at a young age, and he held his first national record when he was ten. To do so, Phelps practiced hard enough to swim in the 2000 Olympics at the age of 15, medaling at every summer Olympic event after that.
Although not all of us are Olympians, regular exercise, including cardio and strength, is a staple of a healthy lifestyle whether we’re going for the gold or not. Regular exercise encourages weight loss, boosts sleep, combats diseases, improves mood, and increases energy levels. However, without athletic recovery (or the dreaded rest day, as some may call it), it becomes impossible for our bodies to achieve optimal performance.
It’s not hard to imagine that consistent practice and intense training can put an enormous strain on the body’s muscles, especially for athletes who consistently work out, sometimes daily and for multiple hours. Exercise depletes the body’s energy stores and causes muscle tissue to tear, rebuild and grow. Recovery, then, is necessary for adequate muscle rebuilding. Rest and recovery give our bodies sufficient time to heal in preparation for future training and prevent further damage to skeletal muscles and injuries caused by overuse.
Professional athletes have been using float therapy – weightlessly suspending themselves in a tank filled with Epsom salts and water – as a means of athletic recovery for years. The Epsom salts create an atmosphere of buoyancy, which causes one to feel as though they are floating on air. By eliminating the gravitational force on one’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems, there is an effortless release of pain, as well as improvement to one’s sleep. Without gravity and any weight holding onto the body, the muscles and joints are free to rest and recover fully.
The intense relaxation experienced in float therapy is unique to being in the low-gravity environment of the floatation tank. It allows bodies to recuperate faster and more thoroughly and prompts several other benefits:
- Increased Blood Circulation: As muscles and joints relax, blood flow increases. This enables the body to repair muscle tissue quickly.
- Pain Management: Float therapy is used to ease chronic pains, including neck and spinal pain.
- Increased Immune System Function: While your body undergoes complete relaxation, your immune system can function at a higher competency.
Amber Donaldson, senior director of sports medicine at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, said in an article for The Gazette that “you’ve got to take care of your body.” Overworking can (and will) lead to pain, muscle stiffness and fatigue, especially as you get older. That’s where float therapy comes into play because it can significantly reduce these problems regardless of age.
Specifically, as a means of athletic recovery, flotation therapy nourishes physical strength and relaxes sore muscles. It also builds proteins in joints, which helps accelerate one’s recovery time improves the body’s process of reducing lactic acid that builds up in the muscles after an intense workout, according to a study by the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at Northern Illinois University. Lactic acid is caused by working the muscles excessively, resulting in a burning sensation and leading to a forced period of rest. Too much lactic acid in the body can cause unwanted symptoms such as clammy skin, stomach pain, nausea, confusion, headache and more.
However, the benefits of float therapy are not merely physical. It allows for incredible mental rejuvenation as well.
Float therapy puts the athlete into a low-gravity, completely silent and pitch-black environment. This allows for complete relaxation of both the body and mind. With the brain finally able to stop allocating its resources to processing external stimuli, there is a surge of positive neurochemicals and profound positive mental effects. These effects can include:
- Visualization for Better Athletic Training: Float therapy allows athletes to train their bodies harder while benefiting from slow recovery times.
- Stress Reduction: During float therapy, external stimuli are eliminated and replaced with a calm mind, allowing users to experience inner peace.
- Increased Creativity: Several studies support the claim that an individual may experience boosted creativity and creative thinking skills after floatation therapy.
- Increased Reaction Time and Sensory Acuity: The sensory deprivation associated with float therapy has been shown to heighten one’s senses afterward.
- Sleep Schedule Maintenance: Sensory deprivation promotes an atmosphere of calmness, allowing the mind to rest.
While float therapy is commonly used among Olympians and athletes, it’s an incredible resource for individuals who exercise, work in labor-intensive jobs or anyone in need of a mental and physical health refresher. True REST Float Spa offers everyone an opportunity to experience the benefits of floating in a spa-like environment customized to meet everyone’s individual needs.
So, as athletes and as humans, we should all be giving ourselves the gift of recovery. Not only does your body need it, but it deserves this. Don’t you think? Book your appointment with True REST Float Spa today.