According to Health.com, there are many good ways to help an athlete recover, and one of those ways is floating therapy for athletes. While this is a relatively new recovery method for athletes, studies at Ohio State and other locations have shown impressive results. Both the mind and the body appear to be aided by floating therapy, meaning it could be used to help athletes in two important and significant ways. So what is floating therapy, and what does it offer? Here is what athletes and their trainers should know about this new way of helping athletes recover faster.
Stress Gives People an Edge, But Only in the Moment
As an athlete stress is part of the game, the key is maintaining a healthy stress level and recovery. Acute stress can help just about anyone get more done, make that meeting on time, run that play, or handle basic life and work tasks that have to be completed. Staying completely relaxed all the time is not realistic. But once the perceived danger has passed, it is important that the stress response comes back down to baseline. If it does not, chronic stress can develop. That can be dangerous for the body and the mind, and hard on a person’s abilities. In short, there is nothing wrong with stress in-the-moment, but once the moment passes the stress response needs to go back to normal. Using float therapy can help with that.
Reducing Long-Term Stress Response Can Mean Better Health
Long-term stress means a higher risk of injury and illness, along with performance that suffers. For athletes, that can result in missed plays and opportunities, lost games, and damage to their body that may require treatment and recovery time. The more they can be calm and heal their body and their mind between periods of stress, the lower their chances are for problems that come along with the body’s chronic stress response. Better health is important for everyone, but it is crucial for athletes.
Biometrics Relate to Performance in a Number of Ways
One of the areas where float therapy correlates with a lowered stress response is in the study of biometrics. These are all the small markers that show how high a person’s stress level is, and whether they are chronically or acutely stressed. What is in the sweat collected on their skin, how their brain reacts to stimuli, what compounds are circulating in their blood, and more are all biometric markers that are worth studying when it comes to how to help athletes recover faster. People who have lower cortisol and calmer brain reactions are generally going to react better to acute stress. Not everyone is naturally wired that way, but nearly everyone can be nudged in that direction through the right kinds of recovery activities. That is where floatation comes in.
Float Therapy Can Help Heal the Mind and the Body
Nutrition, sleep, yoga, meditation, massage, and more can help with recovery. Floating can be a big part of that. It makes people calmer and reduces the mental stress they feel. It can also help with aches and pains, so it benefits the body and the mind at the same time. Many users of floatation tanks have reported changes in their mood, anxiety levels, and pain levels, along with the amount of tension they have in their body. Science supports these claims and shows that this is more than just anecdotal evidence of the value of floatation.
Floating can target multiple physiological symptoms together, and that means the brain and the body are both benefiting from the relaxation and sense of calm that float therapy produces. During the time spent in the floatation tank there is reduced brain input, and that helps athletes have better control over their stress response. There are also lower levels of cortisol and adrenal stress, both of which help people feel calmer and reduce the toll that stress takes on their bodily systems, as well
Even novices can see benefits right away, which is generally not the case with other types of recovery methods for athletes. That makes float therapy an important development in athletic recovery, as it can help reduce the activity seen in the sympathetic nervous system and raise the activity seen in the parasympathetic nervous system. This correlates to helping people be calmer and reduce their stress reactions and responses. For those who are already very calm, though, floating can raise sympathetic nervous system activity. This is not enough to produce anxiety or chronic stress, but just enough to give athletes the edge they need to remain competitive. Any athlete wanting to focus on recovery may benefit from choosing float therapy.