Exploring Possibilities: Floatation, Veterans, and PTSD

Explore the Possibilities

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is very real and can be debilitating. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is a disorder that can develop in people who have seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Symptoms of PTSD can include severe anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, confusion, and the inability to function in daily life. Unfortunately, a large number of our Veterans suffer from PTSD. According to a study conducted by RAND, 20% of Veterans deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have experienced symptoms of PTSD. It is the 3rd most common psychiatric diagnosis for Veterans and frequently occurs with alcohol use disorders.

Floatation Therapy appears to be a promising alternative to conventional treatment. Floatation has been gaining popularity in the alternative health field due to its beneficial effects for the mind and body. The Laureate Institute of Brain Research in Oklahoma is currently conducting randomized trials to evaluate the benefits of floatation therapy on anxiety, depression, addiction and eating disorders. In 2012, Float Boston posted a case study titled,  A Story of Depression, Anxiety and PTSD, and cited the benefits that their client “Andrew” experienced while floating three times over a three week period. One interesting improvement was a reduction of “hyper-vigilance” associated with PTSD. In addition, Andrew experienced an increased feeling of well-being that he identified as similar to his anti-anxiety medications, as well as more restful sleep and a decrease in nightmares.

Another case study reported by Anthony Natale, cited similar benefits. Shane Stott, in his book The Float Tank Cure shares Anthony’s story. Anthony,  a veteran counselor, writer and massage therapist suffered from PTSD that caused severe anxiety and insomnia for years. Anthony reported sleeping through the night after his first float. He has since become an advocate for floatation through his own process of recovery. Anthony describes floating as “a cleaning out of your hard-drive”,  it is a way to reorganize and calm our central nervous system.  The deep meditative states achieved in the float assist in re-patterning the nervous system and can help you change the way you think, feel and react permanently.

In addition to calming the nervous system, floatation has been shown to decrease pain, relax the soft tissues of the body, and speed muscle recovery after exercise. If you are suffering from PTSD or know someone who is, floatation is a safe, affordable, and empowering option.

 

Athletic Development: Find Your Flow with Floatation

athletic manBeing an athlete, whether recreational or professional, requires discipline, strength and skill. Athleticism is an intricate balance of physical and mental performance. Floatation therapy is known for its physiological effects on the muscular system and the soft tissues of the body.  Floating in a tub with 800-1000 lbs of Epsom Salt works wonders for the recovery of the body after athletic exertion. Floatation therapy decreases inflammation, relaxes the muscles, increases oxygenation of cells, and speeds recovery from injury.

The physiological effects of floatation are certainly important, but what about its benefits for the mind? The mind thrives in the state of flow. “Flow” was coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly a Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago, and describes a “state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.” This is a common occurrence with most athletes, and is often referred to as being in “the zone”. Floatation offers a unique environment for the development of “flow” for the athlete. Not only does floating decrease stress and anxiety, it increases mental cognition, creativity and clarity.  Michael Hutchison writes, in The Book of Floating;

“It is here that we see the unique value of floating: The flotation tank is a specific and reliable flow-creation tool. On the whole, floaters seem to experience flow every time they enter the tank. Even better, they experience that most elusive and pleasurable thing, long periods of pure, uninterrupted flow.”

Floatation therapy enables one to identify and experience flow and recall that state at will outside of the tank: it is a tool to develop the mind and can be a valuable asset for the athlete in training or anyone who desires to be on top of their game. We are seeing a rise in the number of athletes who are utilizing floatation therapy to enhance their athletic performance. From UFC fighters to NFL teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, floatation is being embraced with documented success. Olympic teams from Sweden, Australia and the UK  employ floatation therapy for athletic training, and many athletes are making floating even more accessible by installing float cabins and tanks in their homes.  With mounting scientific evidence to back up the benefits, floatation therapy may very well become a standard in athletic training and flow development.

References:

Floatation Therapy Current Concepts, Austrialian Institute for Sports.

The Acute Effects of Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique on Recovery From Maximal Eccentric Exercise, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2013.

Floatation REST and Imagery in the Improvement of Athletic Performance, Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 1990.

Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain, Journal of the Canadian Pain Society, 2001.

 

 

 

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Floating: A Future for Chronic Pain Management

Pain can be debilitating. Chronic pain can steal the days and make nights seem like they go on forever. A new study from Gallup-Healthways showed that 47% of those surveyed reported some type of chronic pain. The majority, 36% reported chronic neck and back pain. The pain cycle intensifies with stress and lack of sleep, which are caused by the pain itself. It is a vicious cycle that has the potential to lead to depression and hopelessness.

Sensory deprivation floatation, or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, R.E.S.T. offers a non-toxic, healthy alternative to pain management.   Roderick A Borrie, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at South Oaks Hospital, Amityville, New York and Thomas H. Fine, associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry of the Medical College of Ohio, have researched Floatation R.E.S.T. for chronic pain with some interesting results. They found that Floatation benefits chronic pain patients greatly. The majority of patients that utilized Flotation REST suffered from chronic pain for longer than six months and floated from one to 16 sessions. The most common causes of pain in this group of patients were from motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, or chronic illness. The participants reported a reduction in pain that averaged 31.3%!  The highest level of relief was reported in the upper back at 63.6%.

At Peace Floatation Spa participated in a study in 2011 which yielded similar results. The participants in this study were Fibromyalgia patients with chronic pain. The study showed an average of 33% reduction in pain and muscle tension and a 30% reduction in stress levels with an average of 2.5 days of post float pain relief. Both studies show promise for chronic pain suffers with the use of Floatation Therapy.

“[F]lotation REST can have an important role at several stages of the pain management process. By reducing both muscle tension and pain in a relatively short time and without effort on the part of the patient, flotation provides a dramatic demonstration of the benefits of relaxation. Relief is immediate and, although temporary, offers promise of further relief from REST and other relaxation-based strategies. Symptom reduction gained from flotation can increase a patient’s motivation and interest in the remainder of the therapy plan. Pain patients generally come into treatment feeling suspicious and skeptical, requiring a clear demonstration that they can be helped.”

Flotation REST in Applied Psychophysiology
Thomas H. Fine, M.A. and Roderick Borrie, Ph.D.

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Zero Gravity, The Magic of Floatation Therapy

When was the last time you experienced total weightlessness? If you are like most people the answer is most likely never. Even when I take my kids to the local pool and attempt a nice long back float, gravity wins as my feet slowly sink and force my flutter kick back to the surface. Don’t get me wrong, I respect gravity and have a certain amount of unspoken gratitude that I don’t float away into the stratosphere; however, the idea of defying it has captivated my imagination since I was a child. I dreamed of training with NASA, of launching into the vastness of space to experience freedom from the pull of gravity- without all of the traumatic events Sandra Bullock experienced in the movie Gravity, of course. Well I am happy to report that I have recently attained my dream without the support of NASA or a spaceship! I found floatation!

What is floatation, you ask? It is the most amazing and affordable zero gravity experience available to date. It is an adventure into your own mind, body and spirit. It is a freedom from the mundane the monotonous and the stressful.  Floating is flat out fabulous! Floatation Spas have been gaining momentum across the country as a means of self care, relaxation, and healing. At Peace Floatation Spa in Colleyville, Texas is one of these hidden gems. At Peace Floatation Spa offers two beautiful, private floatation rooms which are equipped with their own shower and floatation tub. The floating takes place in a large tub filled with 800 pounds of Epsom salt and water. The high concentration of salt in the water is responsible for the out of this world anti-gravity experience. Coupling floatation and massage therapy in a single visit maximizes the effects of each process making for a phenomenally relaxing and rejuvenating experience.

Floatation spas and floatation tanks are known by several other names; sensory deprivation, (sounds scarier than it is), and restricted environmental stimulation therapy (R.E.S.T).  Studies have shown that floatation has many physiological and psychological benefits; and I would argue even spiritual. We will, in future posts look into all of these benefits and explore the possibilities that are emerging from floatation therapy.  But for now I will leave you with thoughts of weightlessness, and the knowledge that you have the power to defy at least one law of physics..