Neurophysiologist Dr Jeffrey Gmelch, of Columbia University, has the following to say about the effects of floating.
“I found that I could run much more easily for a week of two after floating. I tend to look at things as a scientist, so seen physiologically it’s because of the build up of lactic acid – it’s lactic acid that causes fatigue and muscle soreness, and after those two weeks the lactic acid builds up and the effects of the float wear off.
I am sure it’s also because the body is so relaxed when you get out – for a number of days or even weeks after floating. It is a long term alteration in the metabolism. I noticed better athletic performance from the tank. It improved my ease in movement, even just walking around. I normally have stress in my upper back, especially if I run. And for a week or two after I float, I don’t experience it.
When I was floating every 2 weeks, I felt no strain or tension in running. Also my stamina and endurance are much better, and my ease in running is much greater after floating. I don’t experience any lactic acid build up and cramping for a week or two after a float, so the effect of floating could not only be a reduction of lactic acid, but a speeding up of clearing of lactic acid from the body.”
Gmelch also noted that floating had helped him come back from injuries faster. He had frequently had problems with shin splints from his running, but he said “ I did notice that it healed quicker from being in the tank. It was impressive!”
– The book of floating, Michael Hutchison
The advantages of floatation for sports training are numerous:
- Increased physical relaxation, which leads to improved performance, greater stamina, speed strength and co-ordination.
- Reduction of injuries due to overtraining or muscular tension and imbalance. “Most sports injuries are not contact injuries but are the result of inappropriate muscular tension; most of these injuries could have been prevented by relaxation. The floatation tank causes a major across-the-board reduction of muscular tension – this has been proven by the Chicago Medical School and University of Health Services through EMG measurements.
- Alleviating the pain of injuries found that reduction in tension persisted for days and even weeks.
- Enhancing the body’s ability to recover form injuries and the normal stress of intensive exercise.
- Speeding recovery from the stress of peak output (races, competition) and eliminating post competitive letdown.
- Improved co-ordination and performance skills due to in tank visualisation rehearsal
- Elevating the athlete’s mental state through increased concentration, calmness and poise.
From the physical point of view, you have pushed your body to it’s limits or beyond; you have stressed your entire body, depleted your supply of glycogen, filled your muscles with lactic acid. You are used up, bruised and exhausted. Your body has to carry away all that lactic acid, and all the other biochemicals associated with stress; it has to build up your weakened immune system; it has to build up the muscles and other tissues that have been damaged or broken down in the heat of competition. Depending on your state of fitness and how strenuous the competition was, this could take anywhere from a few hours to several days – and while it is going on, you will not feel your best. Floating in a floatation tank speeds up this process.
Dr Mel Thrash emphasizes that floating can “speed up the recovery process enormously. What usually takes days after a marathon, the tank compresses into a number of hours. In the tank, you are giving your muscles total rest. Those biogenic amenis are being decreased in an accelerated manner by the tank, and so you are speeding up your recovery. Floating offers a wonderful opportunity for the body to heal itself.
Much post game stress is in one way or another related to gravity. – pulling the body down into sprains, strains, stressed joints, bruised muscles, restricting circulation of the body’s healing fluid systems, the blood and lymph. Gravity’s constant pull causing our already exhausted muscles to work to keep us upright. By relieving most of the stresses of gravity, floating takes the weight off the strained bones and joints, increases the circulation of blood and lymph circulation, carrying away waste and toxins and bringing healing materials to damaged cells.
Getting the bear off your back.
We all know that one of the most immediate results of strenuous physical exercise is a rapid build up of lactic acid – a toxic by product of glucose metabolism in anaerobic activity. Lactic acid begins to accumulate in the muscles within
Disclaimer: Floatation is an experience unique to each individual, as such, the experience and results may vary from person to person.