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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Self Care Matters

thumbnailWe live in a world of constant stimulation. On any given day we are bombarded with cell phones, email, facebook, twitter, traffic, billboards, television, (bad) news, not to mention most of us have calendars packed full of events requiring our attention. All of these stimulate our central nervous system and can activate a stress response in our body. Stress creates a cascade of chemical reactions in the body releasing substances such as epinephrine and cortisol. Prolonged stress causes damage to the body systems and results in decreased immune function, sluggish digestion and is the cause of many diseases of both body and mind.

The problem is clear, so what are people doing about it? More importantly what are you doing about it? Self care is the answer; we must balance the stress in our lives with its natural opposite, relaxation. Relaxation shouldn’t just be that 2 weeks a year when you’re on vacation lounging in a hammock reading your favorite book and sipping a margarita, it needs to be a way of life. What we do for ourselves today effects our tomorrow and all of the tomorrows to come.

Some of the most popular self care practices include;

  • massage
  • yoga
  • conscious breathing
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • healthy eating
  • aromatherapy
  • energy work
  • floatation
  • reading
  • writing
  • gardening
  • drawing
  • painting
  • biking
  • hiking

All of these methods assist in fighting disease and increase feelings of peace and lead to a well rounded and healthy lifestyle.What we do is not nearly as important as the simple act of doing it. Creating the time and the space for self care is half the battle. We must make the time, then engage with passion and intention in the preservation of health and wellness. Taking the time to enjoy the moment, relaxing into uncertainty, swaying with the winds of change, loving ourselves enough to give time to the nourishment of our body, mind and soul, this is self care. As we change our attitude to ourselves we change our perception of the world, one breath at a time.

What are your self care practices?.