After John C Lilly, the pioneer in developing sensory deprivation (float therapy), broke multiple bones in a bicycle accident, he decided to float and see if it could offer him some relief. Sure enough, he said:
“There, I was free from the pain, without drugs, for the first time since I had had the accident. That’s because the tank frees up all the pain due to gravity”
It’s true, floating does release gravity’s impact—relieving a tremendous amount of tension, stress and pain. But it also creates the perfect environment to experience the deepest relaxation possible—a powerful pain-reliever in its own right.
So, what makes floating so great for pain relief?
The force of gravity is tremendous.
Invisible as it may be, it is constantly weighing down on us—particularly so anytime we are upright—walking, standing and sitting. This impacts the entire body, notably the spine, which compresses in an attempt to maintain balance in the body.
We often, without realizing it, adopt postures to deal with this constant pressure, which tend to lead to even further pain. Combined with stress and arthritis back pain can be beyond belief.
When we lie down in a supine position our back experiences some relief (hence, many with back pain have less pain when they first wake in the morning) but, although the back may be less compressed, gravity is still impacting the many pressure points of the body.
When floating, gravity’s detrimental effects are counteracted—removing the force from the body, every pressure point, each muscle. Tension and muscle tightness releases , eliminating the rigidity that often forms as our bodies compensate for the gravitational realities of our daily lives.
Gravity even impacts our nervous system—its estimated that 90% of central nervous system activity is related to compensating for the force. That’s a whole lot of activity that could be doing other important tasks (like relaxing).
Before there were pain medications, there were the body’s naturally occurring endorphins—which remove pain and exchange it for what can be blissful feelings—and they’re still here!
When we deeply relax (as we do in a Float Pod) and let our parasympathetic nervous system take over, amazing things happen.
Gary Higgins, the president of a floatation tank manufacturer, says about chronic pain: “ People do experience relief from chronic pain, and we believe the reason they do is that relation stimulates the production of the body’s own opiates or pain-killers”
These feel-good chemicals are the same thought to be responsible for the legendary “runners high” that occurs after about 30 minutes of running.
Sure enough, in 1973 the brain was found to contain receptor sites specifically for opiates, creating the perfect opportunity for pain relief to happen naturally in the body, when it is given the chance to fully relax.
Research is being done to see what benefits can be associated with regular increased production of the body’s own pain relievers—recurring conditions like migraine headaches, back pain and arthritis are thought to be greatly minimized.
With the combination of true relaxation and defying gravity, pain relief becomes a possibility with Floating.
In True REST’s former pain study, we found that all participants experienced relief from pain, with up to half having zero pain in the pod after three consecutive sessions!
Are you or someone you know experiencing chronic pain? Try flotation therapy for natural relief.
Give your local True REST a call to schedule an appointment, or book online at www.truerest.com
Photo Credit: Brad Hammons on Flickr