How Float Therapy Prepares Athletes for the Big Game
After long hours of constant hard work and rigorous training to prepare for upcoming games, tournaments and shows, athletes need a place to decompress, relax and recharge—enter float therapy.
On Sunday, the Big Game is as much of a mental feat as it is physical for every athlete involved. While we get to sit at home and enjoy the plays and celebrate the wins and losses, athletes have spent an excessive amount of time preparing for one of the most talked-about, observed and well-known football games of the year. Which leads to several questions, including how are athletes at the top of their game when preparing for one of the biggest games of their career? Float therapy.
After long hours of constant hard work and rigorous training to prepare for upcoming games, tournaments and shows, athletes need a place to decompress, relax and recharge—enter float therapy. With a consistent schedule preparing them to maintain good mental and physical health, athletes have adopted this holistic approach to addressing their bodies’ stress. Thanks to floatation therapy, athletes are mentally relaxing and physically decompressing to cultivate a long and successful career. Unlike most of the training tactics athletes use to get into peak physical condition, floatation therapy is a unique mental and physical treatment that complements other methods. The best part about the practice is that it requires you to do nothing at all.
Float therapy, also known as REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulus Therapy), involves effortless floating in a float pod with a mixture of 180 gallons of water and 1,200 pounds of Epsom salts. This creates a buoyancy effect that alleviates the body of gravity, and paired with a sensory deprivation environment, external sources of distraction are eliminated. Individuals can choose to float with the door open or closed, with the lights on or off or with or without sound—all dependent on their comfort level.
This provides an incredibly profound atmosphere because it induces mental and physical healing effects, ultimately supporting the body and its health and wellness. Some of floatation therapy’s benefits include:
- Reduced muscle soreness
- Reduced Lactic acid levels
- Increased energy (ATP), focus and concentration
- Lowered risk of injury
- Immune system boost
- Reduced recovery time
- Visualization and mental training
- Lowered cortisol levels and overall stress
With all these benefits in mind, what is it about float therapy that appeals to professional athletes? Simply put, the ability to optimize their mental game while also allowing their body to recover physically.
"What is it about float therapy that appeals to professional athletes? Simply put, the ability to optimize their mental game while also allowing their body to recover physically."
Devoid of any outside stimulation while floating effortlessly in a float pod, floatation therapy provides the perfect environment for athletes to work on their mental focus. Athletes outside of a sensory deprivation environment are bombarded continuously with distracting stimuli. When that’s eliminated, the brain has time to focus inward and enter the theta wave state, one of several states the brain can enter when we’re feeling calm; the brain throughout the day is often on the frequency of the beta wave state.
When we access these different frequencies, we have access to meditation, dreaming and creativity. When we better the mind, it affects our relationships with ourselves, others, and how we approach life, decreasing stress-related illnesses with a more positive outlook on life. This is especially useful for athletes because entering a different wave state is typical of visualization. Athletes are under an immense amount of pressure to perform their best. Floating provides a much-needed escape from the pressure by inducing an extreme sense of relaxation. The meditative-like state that occurs during floatation therapy gives athletes a boost of focus and concentration. It’s a great source of mental clarity before or after big games due to its ability to spark creativity and better equip the mind to handle upcoming life events.
Athletes also use float therapy in combination with visualization techniques to heighten their performance. Visualization studies found that when removing surrounding stimuli, one can focus on actions that drive personal success. This means that floatation therapy has a competitive advantage over others by providing professional athletes with relaxation that bleeds into other aspects of their life—it’s float therapy sessions that lead to an improved quality of sleep and increased reaction time during game-day mental clarity and an increased capacity for learning.
“It’s an opportunity to just relax,” Steph Curry told ESPN. “Get away from all the stresses on the court and in life, but it also has some physical benefits as well, with the salt.”
Confidence, visualization and focus are critical to success on the field. Float therapy helps athletes at the top of their game “live” the games in their minds before ever stepping onto the field.
Known to treat sports-related conditions, floatation therapy supports the recovery process after athletes perform by managing stress levels. Done with the specialized mixture of water and a high concentration of Epsom salts in the float pod, the buoyancy provides an environment without gravity, effectively reducing pressure and tension on the muscles and joints. Magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salts, is a crucial player in rebuilding proteins. It’s a natural compound in the body, which is why it’s a holistic remedy for common bodily ailments. Magnesium sulfate helps flush out toxins, decrease inflammation, and regulate internal processes, including blood pressure, blood glucose, the enzymatic system and lactic acid, a chemical byproduct of exercise in which cells produce energy without oxygen.
When lactic acid lowers during floating, it gives the body time to heal and repair itself after endurance stress. The soothing Epsom salts in every float tank help tired muscles recuperate and increase blood circulation, which helps bring on faster recovery times. Studies have shown these therapeutic effects reduce chronic pain from past injuries, muscle soreness and tension, aiding in the healing process from broken, torn or overworked ligaments. So, adding in the injury prevention component to the long list of physical benefits, and it’s not just surprising that athletes around the world have made floating a significant part of their training regimen.
- Floatation REST and Imagery in the Improvement of Athletic Performance, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 1990.
- Floatation Therapy Current Concepts, Australian Institute for Sports.
- The Acute Effects of Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique on Recovery From Maximal Eccentric Exercise, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, December 2013.
- Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain, Journal of the Canadian Pain Society, Winter 2001.
- Primary process in competitive archery performance: Effects of flotation REST, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, May 1998.
Float Therapy Isn’t Just for Professional Athletes
A recent fMRI study conducted by Dr. Justin Feinstein at the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research found that a 90-minute float session impacts the brain by shutting down the amygdala area of the brain that triggers the fight-or-flight response. And this is important to note because that flight-or-flight response is a product of cortisol, also known as a stress hormone. Unfortunately, this is something that everyone deals with—not just athletes. Whether it’s personal or work-related stress, the mind and body can be easily overwhelmed.
So, here’s the best thing about float therapy—EVERYONE can benefit from it! All the benefits of float therapy that appeal to Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Steph Curry, Olympians and others can also benefit. From expectant mothers, busy professionals, individuals struggling with stress, anxiety and insomnia and more, float therapy is a great holistic approach to total body health and wellness.
Schedule a float at True REST today to understand why it’s the self-care ritual trusted by thousands around the world!