Float like a butterfly? Today’s top athletes are utilizing flotation therapy to float like a champion.
Aly Raisman, a two-time Olympic gymnast with a gold medal from Rio already in the bag, recently discussed flotation therapy as a part of her training program: “You literally float in salt water for an hour or so. That stuff is really crucial because you have to find ways to rest.”
Turns out she’s in good company – elite athletes have been floating their way to greatness for decades, citing both physical and mental benefits.
New England Patriots’ star quarterback, Tom Brady, reportedly owns his own float pod, inspiring the entire team to adopt the practice in preparation for the 2015 Super Bowl. The championship team is now rumored to have a pod in their locker room.
Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry and Harrison Barnes famously float once a week, telling ESPN that the therapy is “an opportunity to just relax,” as well as a recovery tool for sore muscles during the grueling NBA season.
Everyone from the Seattle Seahawks to the Australian Olympic Team have incorporated flotation therapy as a part of their athletes’ training and recovery, with the list of elite devotees growing each year. Some float to help their bodies keep up with tough training schedules, while others focus on the mental clarity they experience with regular sessions.
After qualifying for the 2008 Games in Beijing, British track and field medalist Jade Johnson described the full range of benefits she experienced through floating: “When I first got into flotation therapy, I tried it three times in a week and it was so beneficial that I had another two sessions leading into the 2008 European Cup. It was there that I jumped a personal best and qualified for the Beijing Olympics. I have always used physiotherapy and massage to help injury recovery, but flotation is different. When I float, I can really feel a lot of pressure being taken off my back and when I compete I feel calm and in tune with my mind and body.”
Scientists agree, citing major physical and mental benefits:
Accelerate Recovery: The Epsom salt used in flotation therapy has been proven to speed healing time of sore and injured muscles by relaxing the body and reducing lactic acid build up.
Reduce Stress: During a float, cortisol levels drop and the brain enters a meditative state, helping athletes with performance anxiety master their mental game.
Improve Performance: Athletes find that flotation offers the ideal atmosphere for performance visualization, a technique that research shows can strengthen neural pathways and boost muscle function by up to 35%.
Not quite in Olympic shape? Luckily, float pods don’t discriminate; whether you’re a weekend warrior, an after-hours gym regular, or just running to keep up with a hectic schedule, flotation therapy can help you start every day with your game face on.