Flotation therapy, also known as restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST), is a relaxation technique that involves floating in a tank filled with Epsom salt water. The tank is dark and soundproof, which helps to reduce sensory stimulation and promote deep relaxation.
Flotation therapy has been shown to have a number of benefits for athletes, including reducing muscle soreness, improving mood, and promoting better sleep. A recent study published in the journal Performance Enhancement & Health investigated the effects of flotation therapy on muscle soreness and mood in elite athletes.
The study included 60 elite athletes from a variety of sports. The athletes completed a modified multidimensional mood-state questionnaire and a visual analogue scale to assess muscle soreness immediately before and 10 minutes after a flotation session.
The results of the study showed that flotation therapy significantly reduced muscle soreness and improved mood in the athletes. The largest effect sizes were seen for the mood-state variables "worn-out," "at ease," "tense," "fresh," and "exhausted."
The study also found that napping during a flotation session did not provide any additional benefits in terms of muscle soreness or mood. However, the researchers noted that the sample size for the napping group was relatively small, so further research is needed to confirm these findings.
The researchers concluded that flotation therapy is a safe and effective way for elite athletes to reduce muscle soreness and improve mood. They suggested that flotation therapy could be used as a regular recovery strategy for athletes, particularly during periods of intense training or competition.
Practical implications for athletes
The findings of this study suggest that flotation therapy could be a valuable tool for elite athletes to improve their recovery and performance. Flotation therapy can help to reduce muscle soreness, improve mood, and promote better sleep. All of these factors can contribute to improved athletic performance.
Here are some specific ways that flotation therapy could be used by athletes:
To recover from a tough workout or competition: Flotation therapy can help to reduce muscle soreness and improve mood after a tough workout or competition. This can help athletes to feel fresher and more energized for their next training session or competition.
To prepare for a competition: Flotation therapy can help athletes to relax and focus on the lead-up to a competition. This can help them to perform at their best.
To manage stress and anxiety: Flotation therapy can help athletes to manage stress and anxiety, both of which can have a negative impact on performance.
If you enjoy sport on any level, I encourage you to consider trying flotation therapy to see if it can help you to improve your recovery and performance.