A Gallup poll found that 47% of Americans report that they deal with some type of chronic pain, and unfortunately, chronic pain often interferes with sleep, gets worse with stress, and can lead to depression. If you’re one of the millions of Americans struggling to cope with pain, sensory deprivation float therapy offers an alternative form of pain management that may significantly reduce the amount of pain you experience. In fact, Science Daily examined multiple studies and concluded that float therapy was an excellent way to reduce long-term stress-related pain, improve sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, and lower the perception of pain.
What is Float Therapy?
Float therapy, often referred to as flotation reduced environmental stimuli therapy (REST) involves using a sensory deprivation pool that’s full of water. The water is saturated with Epsom salts, allowing you to float with no effort and is headed to skin temperature. These pools are both sound-proof and light-proof, and by eliminating external stimuli, the natural fight-or-flight response of the body is deactivated. With no stimulation, it’s possible to focus inward, reducing distractions and calming both the body and mind.
Float Therapy for Pain Management
There is a significant amount of evidence that suggests that float therapy is a useful option for people who deal with chronic pain. It can be an effective, all-natural treatment for many different types of pain, including:
- Muscle Tension Pain– For individuals with muscle tension pain, one study published in the Journal of Pain Research and Management found that float therapy significantly reduced the most severe perceived pain in patients, while those who had very low perceived pain saw no results. Treatment with flotation REST therapy also elevated optimism in participants and reduced the degree of depression and anxiety. Patients also fell asleep more easily at night after undergoing flotation therapy.
- Low Back Pain– When the body is floating in a float pool, the position allows the spine to be totally straight, relieving the pressure on the spine. One study found that in a group of patients with chronic low back pain, those who received sensory deprivation therapy saw significant decreases in both their stiffness and pain.
- Fibromyalgia– Fibromyalgia, a disorder that is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain along with fatigue, mood, sleep, and memory issues, and some studies show that float therapy may help reduce pain for fibromyalgia patients as well. One study done by the Flotation Research Therapy Group found that flotation REST therapy resulted in a reduction in muscle tension and pain, with patients seeing a 25% reduction in pain after their first session and a 33% reduction in pain after their third session. Along with the reduction in pain, float therapy may also improve mood, reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and lower stress levels for patients who have fibromyalgia. Another small-scale study done in 2012 found that flotation REST offered a significant reduction in pain, anxiety, sadness, stress, and muscle tension, as well as increased energy, relaxation, and ease of movement.
- Post-Workout Pain– Athletes that deal with post-workout pain may also benefit from flotation therapy. After strenuous physical training, athletes often deal with the pain that is caused by an increase in blood lactate. One small study done on 24 college students found that they float therapy helped them enjoy a faster recovery and less pain after strenuous physical training by reducing blood lactate levels.
Float therapy may also relieve many other types of chronic pain as well. It may prove helpful in treating tension headaches by reducing muscle tension. A small study even found that it was effective in treating the stiffness and neck pain from various whiplash-associated disorders.
When it comes to pain reduction, float therapy shows promising results across many different studies. Whether you suffer from muscle tension, low back pain, headaches, post-workout pain, or fibromyalgia, float therapy may be an excellent way to manage your pain. If your current pain management plan isn’t doing enough to reduce your pain levels, it can leave you feeling frustrated and hopeless. Chronic pain not only affects your body but over time it can affect your mind as well. Adding flotation to your current pain relief regimen offers a natural way to work on reducing your pain and compliments any other pain management approach, from physical therapy to pain medications.
If you are dealing with chronic pain, consider giving float therapy a try. You’ll be more relaxed, you’ll sleep better, and you may enjoy a reduction in your pain levels as well.