Floatation Therapy

Types of Flotation Therapy

category2_overFlotation therapy or R.E.S.T. consists of a therapeutic session in a flotation spa typically lasts an hour. For the first forty minutes, it is reportedly possible to experience itching in various parts of the body (a phenomenon also reported to be common during the early stages of meditation). The last twenty minutes often end with a transition from beta or alpha brainwaves to theta, which typically occurs briefly before sleep and again at waking. Many use the extended theta state as a tool for enhanced creativity and problem-solving or for super-learning.

Flotation therapy has been academically studied in the USA and in Sweden with published results showing reduction of both pain and stress. The relaxed state also involves lowered blood pressure and maximal blood flow.

Floating can be passive or active, depending on the purpose. For relaxation, one simply floats and ‘clears the mind.’ Active floating has many different techniques.

One may perform meditation, mantras, self-hypnosis, utilize educational programs, etc. The idea of active floating is that, when the body is relaxed, the mind becomes highly suggestible and any action taken during these states will enter the information into the sub-conscious. Flotation therapy may be used to complement other body work and healing methods.

R.E.S.T. Design

Epsom salt/ water solution is created with a raised density above the density of the human body, so that the subject floats with his or her face above the water. However, since the ears are submerged when the subject is in a relaxed position, hearing is greatly reduced, particularly when ear-plugs are also used. Skin sensation is greatly reduced because the air and water are the same temperature as the skin, and the feeling of a body boundary fades. The sense of smell is also greatly reduced.tank

Generally users of the therapy enter the pool nude. Although a swimsuit may be worn, the elastic material of a tight-fitting suit can create uncomfortable compressed stress points on the skin during the session. Due to the high epsom salt content the water is minimally changed and all users are expected to shower, soap up, and rinse clean prior to entering the tank. Bathing is again needed after a session to remove excess epsom salt from the skin.

The therapy device uses a circulating surface skimmer, cartridge filtration, and disinfection means, including ultraviolet sterilization and chemicals to keep the water free of microbes and sediment. A ring heating system can be used around the outer walls of the tank to warm the water so that it rises up the outside edges of the pool, travels towards the center, and then sinks under the tank user. This very slow water convection flow helps to keep the user centered, without them floating to the side and bumping into the walls during long float sessions. However, when the floater is still, the small waves caused by breathing also tend to center them in the solution regardless

Learn More About R.E.S.T. Health Benefits

The Effects on Stress:

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Perceived stress can be correlated with increased levels of cortisol and in flotation therapy there is a natural tendency for cortisol to be reduced. For this reason Flotation therapy is one of the few non invasive techniques available to manage stress when it is a factor in reducing a person’s ability to cope with normal life. Flotation therapy is a fast technique in this respect. The Swedish research was based on 40 minute float sessions. This compares well with other management techniques such as long vacations.

There are many similarities with the age old long hot bath, the differences being that in flotation therapy the temperature is maintained at the correct level and the bath is large enough to float without touching the sides of the bath.

The Effects of Epson Salt

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Most float tanks use epsom salt, Magnesium sulphate (sulfate), in high concentration so that the relative density of the solution is about 1.25. This assists floating particularly making the head buoyant so that the nose and mouth are well out of the water for breathing. It has recently been discovered that there is a secondary effect which is important to floatation therapy. Magnesium is absorbed through the skin thanks to a natural skin transport mechanism. This tends to correct a common deficiency. Magnesium is absorbed from the diet but in many areas of the world over cropping without adequate replacement of magnesium makes the normal diet low in Magnesium. The body naturally optimises the levels of magnesium, so there is no over load effect from floating in the salts for extended periods.

It is noted that there is no “floatation therapist”:, although there is a need to instruct the floater and need to maintain the equipment in a safe condition. However floatation therapy is compatible with other therapies as a preparation or conjuct activity. Examples include massage, osteopathy, homeopathy, talk therapy, hypnosis.
Examples of flotation therapy fertility: Many women, after medical examination for physical causes, are advised to take significant lifestyle changes such as moving house or stopping work because stress is recognized as a factor in infertility. Floatation therapy is an ideal stress reduction technique in many cases, insomnia: Loss of sleep or disturbed sleep patterns can
exacerbate stress and floatation therapy is an ideal technique to reduce stress in anticipation of bed rest. Many floaters fall asleep in the float tank. This is completely safe because there is no tendency to roll over when floating. Long periods of sleep are not usually possible in a commercial float centre but the therapy has long lasting effects so the sufferer can go to bed after a float session and sleep naturally without drugs.


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Research into flotation therapy (as opposed to just the effect of isolation) began in the USA at Ohio State University where floating was shown to improve creativity in Jazz musicians, accuracy in rifle shooting, focus before academic examinations and stress relief, among others.

Research in Sweden has demonstrated the therapeutic effect on stress and pain. The technique takes advantage of an atavistic ability that seems to be common to all humans to relax when floating at a comfortable temperature. The temperature is that which allows natural heat generation to escape without the need for muscle action to raise body temperature in homeostasis.

The floating posture, usually the supine position (although the prone position with chin supported on elbows is recommended for pregnant women), allows all the postural muscles to relax. The water pressure on the immersed skin is lower than the blood pressure and thus blood flow continues in skin capillaries. This is in contrast to normal bed rest where local contact pressure inhibits blood flow requiring regular adjustment of posture. When people cannot adjust their posture in bed, e.g in some illnesses, bed sores can result. When floating there is no tendency to adjust posture and a person can float immobile for many hours.

The natural tendency of the body in the floating posture at the correct temperature is to dilate the blood vessels, reducing the blood pressure and maximizing blood flow. The brain activity normally associated with postural muscles is reduced to a minimum. In this state, which we can call the floating state, natural endorphin’s are released reducing pain. Lactic acid removal is accelerated. Flow in the lymphatic system is increased.