The Science Behind Floating

Research Supporting Float Therapy Health Benefits

While floatation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), as floating is officially termed, is accepted as a distinct “medical treatment” in some European countries, in North America float therapy falls under the rubric of alternative medicine therapies such as herbal remedies and acupuncture. As such, research into health benefits has been historically limited when compared with other more mainstream medical treatments. Nevertheless, floatation REST has been the subject to almost 400 research studies, many of which have reported promising results.

At Modern Elevation Wellness Center we are always interested in learning about the latest research into float therapy’s benefits, and will share it with our Airdrie and greater Calgary area client’s here.

Floatation Therapy as a Stress Reliever

This 2018 study of 50 participants with a cross spectrum of anxiety and stress-related disorders determined that floatation REST appears to be a “promising technique for transiently reducing the suffering of those with anxiety and depression. The study "Examining the short-term anxiolytic and antidepressant effect of Floatation-REST” found that those with the most severe levels of anxiety seemed to benefit the most from floating. No matter what the participant diagnosis, researchers determined that float therapy substantially reduced anxiety. Researchers also reported that all participants reported “significant reductions in stress, muscle tension, pain, depression and negative affect, accompanied by a significant improvement in mood characterized by increases in serenity, relaxation, happiness and overall well-being.”

Floatation Therapy High Anxiety Sensitivity

As with the 2018 stress relief study, this 2018 study determined that floatation REST provided study participants with a “robust relaxation response.” While the study “The Elicitation of Relaxation and Interoceptive Awareness Using Floatation Therapy in Individuals With High Anxiety Sensitivity” found that floating supressed anxiety for the short term, researchers believe that their findings suggest that repeated float therapy should lead to long-term reductions in anxiety sensitivity.

Floatation Therapy as Preventive Health-Care Intervention

This 2014 study "Beneficial effects of treatment with sensory isolation in flotation-tank as a preventive health care intervention — a randomized controlled pilot trial” seems rather broad in scope, but was basically trying to determine float therapy’s effect on healthy participants over a seven-week period. Compared to control-group participants who did not float, those who floated 12 times during the seven-week experiment were found to have significant decreases in stress, depression, anxiety, and pain, and increases in their sleep quality and sense of optimism. The ultimate conclusion was that floatation-REST “has beneficial effects on relatively healthy participants, and that the therapy may reduce contributing factors that lead to stress-related illness.

Floatation Therapy for Athletic Recovery

This 2013 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, determined that float therapy appears to have a “significant impact” in reducing blood lactate levels and perceived muscle pain after exercise. The study— “The Acute Effects of Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique on Recovery From Maximal Eccentric Exercise” —provides distinct evidence that floatation therapy can enhance muscle recovery by decreasing high levels of lactate. The study also determined that floating seems to relieve near-term post-exercise pain, and may dampen the inflammatory response causing delayed onset muscle soreness.

Floatation Therapy for Athletic Recovery

This 2012 study provided compelling evidence that three one-hour Floatation REST sessions over a three-week period can produce significant temporary relief to the symptoms of fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues. The study findings were “consistent and robust” across 10 measured variables, such as pain, muscle tension, stress, sadness, anxiety, energy levels, and ease of movement. The study “The Effects of Flotation REST on the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia” concluded with a call for more research to determine whether more extensive floating sessions can provide longer-term and more cumulative positive benefits.

If you would like to learn more about the health benefits of floating, or are interested in a little self-experimentation to find out how floating can benefit your overall physical and mental health and well-being, contact us here at Modern Elevation Wellness Center at 587-254-4427.