Athletes Floating for Recovery
Intense sports are popular. Marathon, cross-fit, extreme running, there are more and more people who like to push their limits. There are also many people who like to train on a regular basis, for pleasure and for their health.
The following article is about a study done with athletes. We think it is just as relevant for those who like to practice a sport activity on a regular basis, whether it is intensive or not, the risk of injury being very real and incapacitating or them too.
We dedicate this article to the high-level athletes of the Citadins* of UQAM, of which we are proud partners. We salute their perseverance and courage as they combine both their studies and their development as athletes. Not to mention that at the moment, the pandemic is complicating or even hampering their practice, sometimes putting their dream on hold. We are wholeheartedly with you and with all those who see their lives turned upside down by this pandemic.
Spa Ovarium’s team
By Art Of the Float
Career-ending injuries can ruin the dreams of elite athletes. From anything as simple as untreated strains to more severe repetitive stress injuries, an athlete’s performance often hinges on their physical health.
The search for the ideal exercise-rest strategy
As a result,Elite athletes are naturally always striving to achieve the optimal training routine that minimizes the risk of aches, pains, tears, and worse. However, due to the extreme demands that high-level sport places on the body, injuries are an inevitability.
So, propping up their gravity-defying and intense performances is a framework of physical therapy, strength building, and other such necessary conditioning that strengthens the musculoskeletal system and keeps injuries at bay.
Injury prevention is entering the modern age
Take a glimpse at any modern high-performance athlete’s recovery regime, and you’ll see the likes of cryotherapy, acupuncture, and specialized machines designed to work out muscle knots and pulls.
Still, as physical therapy technology and discovery have advanced, so too have the demands of elite sport. This developing shift has led athletes and sport researchers into new, innovative territory in the hopes of finding a novel invention that could solve the painful ills of the athletic world.
Flotation as a physical therapy
While many of us have heard of floatation tanks, it may come as a surprise that they are not solely used as a calming device in spas. In fact, recent studies are pointing toward the psychophysical healing capacity of flotation tanks. Within their enclosed, saline-saturated water-filled environment, sensory deprivation is achievable. Such conditions can provoke an automatic relaxation response and elicit the onset of sleep. Moreover, in recent studies, a drop in the stress-inducing hormone known as
corticosteroids, has been noted. Going further still, brain scans of those who’ve participated in floatation tank studies show decreased brain activity in areas linked to mental health disorders.
So, how does this apply to sporting injuries?
Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (Float-REST)
Recently, researchers at the University ofWaikato,Hamilton, New Zealand, embarked on a study to test the health effects of float-RESTon a sample group of 60 elite athletes.Each athlete undertook restricted environment stimulation therapy sessions.
The theory is as follows.As stated in the researchpaper, “Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and meditation are commonly used by athletes to enhance performance and post-exercise recovery.” So far, so true. Following on, the restoring power of sleep is noted as another strategy.
Interestingly, the study refers to previous research done on flotation RESTto improve athletic ability.In the past, float-REST paired with visual imagery training was used as a pre-competition strategy and resulted in subsequent positive outcomes. Significant improvements to basketball free-throw shooting, tennis first-serving percentage, and archer accuracy have been recorded.
Results of the trial
As predicted, when napping was combined with FLOAT, additional benefits to mood-state were noted, “Twenty-eight of the 60 athletes reported napping during FLOAT.The mean estimatedsleep duration was 26 ± 13 min.There was a significantdifference between nap and no-nap groups for the pre to post change during FLOATfor 5 of the 16 mood-state variables(“worn-out,” “at ease,” “tense,” “fresh” and “exhausted”)”
Further still, moderate correlation between pre-FLOAT muscle soreness and pre to post-change in muscle soreness was recorded, indicating that higher pre-FLOATmuscle soreness wasassociated with more significant reductions in muscle soreness following the FLOATsession. In short, the athletes that werein more pain beforehand, reported less pain afterwards, suggesting that
float-RESTcould be majorly beneficial to chronicallyinjured athletes.
The findings of the study support previous research while making some significant findings of its own. Overall, it seems that there’s clear benefits of using float-RESTas a preventive measure or healing strategy for sport’s injuries.
*The Citadins are the athletic teams that represent the UQAM university.