What is a Float Tank and what does it do?
Since the opening of our Float Tank Centre in Albury we have been inundated with questions about what a Float Tank is and what it does! Our float tank is a light-proof, sound-insulated capsule which contains a shallow 30cm pool of 25% saturated Epsom salts solution – up to seven times denser and more buoyant than sea water.
You float effortlessly on the surface with all parts of your body firmly supported. Your muscles no longer have to fight against the constant downward push of gravity, the single greatest cause of wear and tear to bones, joints and body tissue. As muscle tension melts away, you find yourself floating weightless and free.
Scientists estimate that up to 90% of the brain’s normal workload is caused by the effects of routine environmental stimulation the combined effects of gravity, temperature, touch, light and sound on the muscles, nervous system and sense organs of the body.
The float tank screens out these external physical stimuli, creating a pure state of “sensory” relaxation. Under these unique conditions your body has a chance to restore its natural powers of self-regulation, while you simply lie back and rediscover the latent abilities of a deeply relaxed mind.
While you are floating, your ears are below the surface of the solution, cutting out external sounds. We are also able to play gentle ambient music through the tanks underwater speaker system which creates the feeling that you are floating in a sea of music, enhancing the rich dream-like quality of the experience.
The temperature inside the capsule is kept at a constant 34.5 degrees Celsius – relaxed skin temperature. As a result, the nerve endings which cover the surface of the skin no longer perceive any sense of separation between the skin and the silky mineral solution which surrounds it.
Floating has been shown to accelerate recovery from – the effects of stress, illness, injury or strenuous exercise, enhance learning abilities, and improve sports performance. It has been researched and endorsed at over 100 universities, hospitals and sports training units around the world, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and the Australian and English Institutes of Sport. Our tank is the same used at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)!
What are the Physical Benefits?
The sudden de-stimulation of large areas of the nervous system triggers a spontaneous chain reaction throughout the body known as the parasympathetic response. Muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption all drop dramatically.
The whole chemistry of the body changes. Blood vessels including capillaries dilate, improving cardio-vascular efficiency and increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to every single cell in your body. Stress related chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, ACTH and lactate are removed from the bloodstream and replaced by beneficial endorphins. These biochemical changes occur naturally and spontaneously as by-products of deep sensory relaxation. No training or techniques are required. Just lie back and let it happen.
Floating maximises the benefits of fitness training and work-outs. High intensity exercise stimulates the muscles to grow, but the actual growth and strengthening takes place during relaxation – usually 30 to 40 hours after the stimulation occurs. The deep relaxation of the float tank improves circulation and accelerates the growth and regeneration of muscle tissue.
Strenuous physical exercise can cause a rapid build-up of lactic acid (a toxic by-product of anaerobic glycolysis) in the muscles; this is experienced as pain, fatigue and cramps which can last for days; Floating is one method of reducing the effects of lactic acid and removing other waste materials from the body. This reduces the risk of over-training.
When injuries occur, floating speeds up recovery and the endorphin effect alleviates the pain.
What are the Mental Benefits?
Although your body enters a level of physical relaxation which is even deeper than sleep, in the tank your mind remains awake and dreamily alert, just above the threshold of sleep. Large areas of the brain are suddenly liberated from their normal workload of processing signals from the nervous system and sense organs. There is a sharp drop in the level of electrical activity of the brain (measured on an EEG) from the usual 20-25 Hz down to 4-8 Hz.; EEG readings show a slow, rhythmic wave pattern known as the theta state. This is a twilight zone of creative thought processes, where you’re learning abilities are at their highest and powers of visualisation and auto-suggestion are greatly enhanced.
Peak athletic performance depends on a combination of physical, mental and emotional skills. Modern training methods focus on helping the athlete to master “the inner game”, to develop that cool synchrony of mind, body and emotion which is the hallmark of a champion. The most potent psychological technique for building up skill and confidence simultaneously is visualisation; in the tank, an athlete can achieve the level of concentration necessary for visualisation to have a dramatic impact on performance. This is one of the hottest new developments in sports science.
Are There any Negative Side-Effects of Floating?
There are virtually no negative side-effects of floating. All the effects of deep sensory relaxation are wholly beneficial and work simultaneously at a physical, mental and emotional level. Floating is the fastest, easiest and safest means of achieving a dramatic improvement in the quality of day-to-day living by helping you to make the most efficient use of your mind and your body.
it may take 3 to 5 float sessions before an individual becomes fully acclimatised to the tank environment. During the first few float sessions, massive amounts of accumulated muscle and nervous tension – often unconsciously “locked into” the body – are discharged, allowing the body to begin to restore and optimise its natural metabolic balance.
How Often should the Float Tank be used?
The law of diminishing returns does not apply to floating. The float tank triggers a natural physical reaction in the body known as the parasympathetic response. Every time you float, this response is reinforced. Regular floating produces cumulative benefits as the body “learns” to relax deeply.
The frequency of floating is also a matter of individual preference or requirement. Individuals who lead high pressure lifestyles -athletes, business people, creative performers and other professionals – may wish to float at least once a week to keep mind and body in perfect tune. Similarly, there are situations in everyone’s life which create special demands – such as starting a new job, studying for exams, recovery from illness or injury, pregnancy, extra-long working hours, to name but a few – where deep relaxation is particularly beneficial or even essential.
Who uses Float Tanks?
Float tanks are used around the world by elite athletes including:
- Stephen Curry (GSW – NBA MVP)
- Carl Lewis (Olympic Gold Medalist)
- Wayne Rooney (English Soccer Player)
- Multiple NFL Teams
Celebrities that use Float Tanks include:
- Joe Rogan (UFC commentator and Podcast commentator)
- John Lennon (The Beatles)
- Elle MacPherson
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