benefits of floating

7 Ways Floating Lowers Blood Pressure

Blog Post by Cayla Zahn, A Better Me Spa, July 18, 2016

High Blood Pressure affects over 70 million adults in the U.S. In Wisconsin, high blood pressure affects over 33% of the population (a little more than 1,895,662 people).  Although it causes no symptoms, high blood pressure boosts the risks of leading killers such as heart attack and stroke, as well as aneurysms, cognitive decline, and kidney failure.

While medication can lower blood pressure, it may cause side effects such as leg cramps, dizziness, and insomnia. Fortunately, floatation therapy has been found to reliably reduce blood pressure to healthy levels without the use of medicines or invasive medical treatments.

Here’s 7 ways that floating lowers blood pressure naturally:

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1. Unlike laying on a bed, when you float your entire body is relieved of all contact pressure. With nothing pressing against your body, this allows your blood vessels to fully dilate (vasodilation), instantly reducing blood pressure and maximizing blood flow, oxygen, and red blood cells to your entire body.

2. Each float room is filled with 1,000 pounds of Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulfate). The Epsom Salts helps to relax your muscles and detox your body – getting you into the deepest relaxation of your life.  The lowered muscular tension ensures better blood flow.  When you float, the Epsom Salts are absorbed through your skin and encourage increased dopamine production. Dopamine is the “feel good” reward hormone naturally produced in our brains. Blood pressure drops when we feel good, so naturally stimulating increased dopamine production is a great way to manage high blood pressure. Magnesium also eliminates the stress hormone ACTH and helps produce Serotonin, which helps you relax and get a better night’s sleep.

3. When you float, you reach a state of equilibrium.  It is marked by deep stillness, and at times you may find yourself barely breathing.  Not only are you physically not doing anything, but there’s no sensory input to process either, so you enter into a state of minimal energy output.  Your body uses less oxygen, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, and your blood pressure is lowered.

4. Be aware of your breathing. Slow and controlled breathing not only keeps the mind and body functioning at their best, it also is a huge contributor in lowering your blood pressure, promoting feelings of calm/relaxation and helping us de-stress. The idea in breath awareness is to distract the mind from thoughts, words and/or images by focusing all of your attention to the natural rhythms of the body. To practice breath awareness in the float room, simply breathe in as deep as possible through the nose, pause a few seconds (not holding the breath but allowing it to flow through the body before exhaling) and then fully exhale all the while focusing your attention on the process. When thoughts inevitably arise, don’t resist them. Simply let them pass like a cloud moving through the sky and gently return your awareness to your breathing.

5. The conditions of the float room, combined with your relaxed internal state, enforce the feeling that the float room is a very safe and comfortable environment.  There is no external stimuli to process, which alone can cause stress, anxiety, and activate your sympathetic nervous system. The usually dominant left hemisphere of the brain is slowed down and the right hemisphere enters a state of increased activity. This allows both hemispheres to synchronize and achieve a state of harmony and balance.

6. The right tunes can also help you get low blood pressure. Stepping into the float room, you first hear the soft relaxation music that helps you enter a state of calm. 

“In a study reported at the 2008 meeting of the American Society of Hypertension, researchers at the University of Florence in Italy discovered that patients with high blood pressure who listened to music for 30 minutes a day — specifically, classical, Celtic or Indian music — experienced a decrease in blood pressure.”

7. Floating is also great for making internal changes that can help in lowering blood pressure, including weight loss and smoking cessation. Check this video with Dr. Peter Suedfield on how Floating helps create long term changes in behavior.  

CONCLUSION

Hundreds of studies with floating have shown dramatic decreases in stress, heart rate, blood pressure, including hormonal and biochemical changes, and increases in physical health and mental wellbeing.  One of the more prominent studies found that

“Results indicate that the flotation condition significantly reduced blood pressure and increased subjective relaxation…the patients systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly more than subjects who only did guided relaxation tapes…It is suggested that floating may be used to treat essential hypertension.”       (Jacobs, Heilbronner, Stanley, 1984)

If you or someone you know is having trouble balancing their blood pressure, floatation therapy is a great way to do so! The benefits of floating last for months once you start regular sessions and it gives your body the chance to become accustomed to regular periods of deep relaxation.

Float Your Pain Away

Blog Post by Naperville PT, September 8, 2015

 

     At FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers – Naperville, we have a fantastic group that meets the second Saturday of every month to learn about new tools and techniques that may help with battling chronic pain.  I am always investigating new research based treatments that may benefit my patients and looking for practitioners outside of my practice to speak at our Chronic Pain Forum.  That is what lead me to the Anicca (pronounced a-nee-cha) Float Club in May of this year.

     The day I walked into the center was the day after the owners, Lindsay and Paul, signed on to be a part of a research study dealing with Fibromyalgia patients and floating.  Since a large percentage of my physical therapy patients have Fibromyalgia, I was excited to hear what they had to say.  I was so impressed with the tour that I signed up for a float the following week.  I was not planning on entering the baths loaded with 1,000 lbs of Epsom salt, however, I realized that it would be hard to convince my patients to try a new treatment, which by some may be considered “alternative”, if I had not tried it myself.

     I made the appointment for the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, after a long, exhausting week of working on patients.  I use an array of manual therapy techniques and although I don’t have any musculoskeletal disorders, I do feel some muscle tightness and fatigue by the end of the week.  So, I was quite interested to see if I would feel any different following an hour of sensory deprivation.

     After signing off on the necessary paperwork and receiving a thorough orientation from the delightful Lindsay, I stepped into my own private wave room to begin my hour vacation, as it’s described on their website (www.floatnaperville.com).  I molded the provided plugs snugly into my ears, took a tepid shower and stepped into the large (6ft x 5ft x 8ft) private pool with about a foot of 94 degree water loaded with the therapeutic magnesium salts.  Immediately, I was so surprised how easy it was to float without any effort.  In less than a minute the lights went out and I closed my eyes tightly, a little embarrassed to admit now, but I was scared for a few seconds.  I missed the part of her instructions that told of the underwater switch which would provide a soft blue light should I not appreciate the total darkness.

     I tried to settle my over active brain and relax.  However, I couldn’t.  My mind kept wandering and I told myself I had to stop doing crazy things like this for my patients.  After a few minutes, I really wanted to get out, “What time is it?”, “How much longer do I have to be in here”, “Is that water I feel in my ears”, “Why can’t I hear my heartbeat like I read I may”.   All of these crazy thoughts kept invading my mind and I thought “I will never do this again”.  Well, I was wrong.  Somewhere within that last half hour, I slipped into some type of meditative state.  I know I wasn’t sleeping, but I am not really sure where my brain was, maybe the “theta state” the brain gets to when you are able to get into a deep meditation.  The soft lights began to turn on and I stepped back into the warm shower to remove all of the salt.  I felt surprisingly relaxed.  All of the muscle tension had melted away and I re-entered the lobby to enjoy a cup of tea and share my experience with Lindsay.

     She said everyone’s experience is completely different.  Some have visions, some sleep and some have incredible creative thoughts solving difficult personal struggles in the process.  Although mine started out uncomfortable, I felt good enough to buy a new floater 3 pack and give it another try.

     Soon, I was back with my husband, Gary.  For over 20 years he has been a guinea pig for many of my new techniques.  This time I baited him with the promise of a naked date night.  Unfortunately for him, we were naked in separate rooms.  Sidebar – disposable swimsuits are available for purchase on-line if you choose not to use your birthday suit.  Gary had none of the reservations I had prior to my float, as he grew up around the water and floating was nothing new to him.  He felt the most important tip was to find a comfortable place for your arms.  Four positions were offered and when he finally raised his arms above his head and arched his back, he was out.  The next thing he remembered was the lights were going on.  The pain he felt in his neck and shoulders was gone and he slept better than usual that night.  That may have been from all of the Magnesium in the water.

     My second float was easier to settle into with the help of a small pool noodle that I used under my neck although I didn’t get to the same “theta” state I had on my first float.  This time my mind was concentrating on ways to get the word out to the community on floating and promote their business.  Gary later playfully reprimanded me that I should be thinking about ways to promote our business!!

     I then began bringing groups of patients and friends to float.  One patient with significant soft tissue restrictions from a double mastectomy and plantar fasciitis enjoyed her first float so much she brought her 13 year old son back the next trip.  I had no idea she had a deathly fear of water and claustrophobia, as she told me afterwards.  She didn’t want her fears to interrupt the healing plan I had for her.  I was shocked that she was able to do it with those extreme fears and truly found benefits from floating.

     One word of caution would be for those that may have difficulty rising from a low position without help.  I did have one 68 year old Fibromyalgia patient who had a total hip replacement several years prior who found it extremely difficult to get up after floating.  I should have had her practice turning on all fours and try pushing up from there with the help of the grab bar.  She is back in the clinic now working on her core and leg strength.

     In summary, I am a fan of floating.  I would do it every week if I had the time.  I feel just as good as I do after an hour massage and the benefits for me last longer, plus it is not as expensive as a massage.  I do sleep better, according to my Fitbit, on nights that I float.  Lindsay gave me a great tip prior to my last float when she said, “When you try a new sport or activity you are not good at it right away, it takes practice, so don’t try so hard.” I gave myself permission to be bad at meditating the last time and it worked, I had the most enjoyable float yet.

     If you are interested in finding out more about how floating can help reduce pain, please plan on attending our next Chronic Pain Forum at Anicca Float Club on Saturday, September 12th at 10:00 AM.  Register by calling 630-369-1015 or by emailing mrachford@fyzical.com.

  Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why I Float

I float to let go.

I float to discover.

I float to meditate.

I float to observe.

I float to be weightless.

I float to be quiet.

I float to be still.

I float to be ME.

I float to just BE.

 
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There are just a few days left to submit your entries to the #whywefloat contest!  This is is why I float! Now it's YOUR TURN to share...

 



BLANK

Blank may seem useless
Blank may seem a void
Blank may seem to be nothingness

Yet a blank space
is essential in written words,
essential between notes in music.

How healing, nurturing and self-loving
to receive a blank
in the midst of my day, my life.

I cherish the gap between my breath
and the silent darkness
as in the womb. . . 
floating, loved and carefree.

Listen to Karen M. Carlson read her poem below! 

© 2015 Karen M Carlson

 

 

A Story of Depression, Anxiety and PTSD

Original Blog post from Colin of Float Boston, September 14th, 2014

“I remained happy, and carried with me the positive feeling into the next two days. It was almost a ‘celebratory’ feeling. One that has not been produced by any other medications, therapies, or methods of dealing with the individual diagnoses I live with. I didn’t feel the need for the anti-anxiety medications for nearly two days. Which, in my current state, almost never happens.” —Andrew

“Andrew” is a real person, though that’s not his real name.  Over the last two years he’s been clinically diagnosed with Treatment-Resistant Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, and Anxiety Disorder.  He has worked with trauma therapists and all the resources in the Boston area, including MGH and McLean hospital. He’s even gone so far as to participate in clinical studies at MGH for current drug trials that are being studied for his particular diagnosis. To date, nothing has significantly improved his quality of life, and is left with very few options short of electroconvulsive therapy.

 

He contacted us, wanting to know if he could try floating before committing to anything so drastic as ECT.   Sara and I gave it a little thought and said, you know what, helping someone like this is exactly why we want to open FLOAT.   We offered a series of three floats over three weeks, if he would write up his experiences before and after so that we could share them here.

[After my third float] I felt calm and happy, an experience I can’t remember having in a long time. So much so that I was unfamiliar with it, and didn’t know what to do with the positive happy feeling. I know how to take care of myself in the dark troubling times, but over the last few years, have lost the innate knowledge of how to feel happy, and what to do with that time.

This is an anecdote – one person’s experience, and no kind of clinically controlled trial.  Please interpret with caution.  Still we were thrilled with the results, and are excited to share them here.

Andrew summarized his own benefits this way:

  • Deep relaxation, a loss of the immediate sense of anxiety while in the tank.
  • A loss of sense of time, which in turn removes the immediate sense of depression. There are no outside influences to “worry” about while in the tank.
  • A feeling of well being following the float, similar to the relaxation effects of anti-anxiety medications.  All three floats produced this effect with varying duration between a few hours and two days.
  • Reduction of “hyper-vigilance” associated with PTSD. There is a period of acceptance and lack of paranoia, a “regular” approach to outside stimuli.  Again, the duration of this effect varied float-to-float.
  • Consistent better and easier, more restful sleep. All three floats had the effect of removing nightmares associated with his symptoms. This was a great relief for those evenings, almost a “reset” of the emotional chatter while resting or sleeping, and produced better rest than any drugs he had tried. This was the primary and greatest relief of all three sessions.  Two of the floats (1st and 3rd) produced instances as long as two days of removed or reduced nightmares.

He floated one 90-minute session per week for three weeks. For each session he did not take his standard pre-emptive anxiety medication; this was with the approval of his regular treaters, as a healthy experiment. There were no concerns over foregoing the medication on these three days.

 Floatation therapy helps people achieve total peace. Floating effortlessly calms the nervous system.

Floatation therapy helps people achieve total peace. Floating effortlessly calms the nervous system.

I approached the first float with a heightened sense of anxiety, as I did not know what to expect, or how the process would affect me. Also, I had a heightened anxiety at being out of my “comfort zone” not having a sense of the area, or the individuals associated with the float (Sara and Colin). While I was provided with excellent instructions from Sara prior to the experience, it may be beneficial to individuals with similar diagnoses to speak to the heightened concerns of the first experience.

His experiences in the tank were not unusual:

Not knowing what to expect, the initial warmth, darkness, and buoyancy created an initial concern over “doing it right”. Once I got used to the experience of relaxation, I was able to “let go”. It did however nearly hurt to let go the tense tight hold on my joints, specifically in the pelvic, lower back, shoulders and neck area.

This resistance to letting go – he described it as being like “fear” or “pain” – significantly lessened during the next two floats, as it became more familiar. Once he recognized the experience, it became easier to accept the “pain” associated with relaxation.

My body slowly letting go allowed my internal “chatter” to slow down. Focused on the body, and its experience, there was no internal focus on the anxiety or depression.

As his internal dialog slowed, he became increasingly aware of physical sensations like the slight difference in temperature between the areas of his body covered or not covered by water.  His internal dialog crept louder again, as the “wonder of the relaxation” became “odd and important”, but faded again fairly quickly.  It is not unusual in the tank for feelings of self-awareness to ebb and flow in waves.

During this period, my eyes were closed and colors appeared, along with an internal sense of “movement”.  This experience felt very similar to deep meditation, and after a while (the loss of time being a consequence of the float) everything slowed, and the relaxation, the internal chatter, and all the familiar fears and concerns disappeared. I remained in this state until the music began, and I [became] aware that the 90 minutes had passed. I don’t know how long the persistence of awareness was absent, as the loss of time was prominent, but it did feel lengthy.

After showering, Andrew reported an awareness of a sense of connection between his “higher” and “lower” brain, producing a feeling of calm and well-being.

One challenge I experienced after the first float, which happened with each float, was the feeling of being “thrust” right back into the daily grind, the noise, the annoyances, and the solidity of everything. However, I was able to “watch” my reaction to the real world, and maintained the feeling of “connection to the higher and lower brain”. The ability to “watch” rather than “react” was a great relief (and very similar to deep meditation, only informed by the body, rather than the mind). The relief continued for some time afterward, lasting nearly the rest of the day.

Andrew described one of the symptoms of his PTSD being hyper-vigilance, a feeling of need to be aware of everything in his environment as a constant possible threat.  He described this period of relief following floats, with durations between a few hours (after his second float) and two days (after his third) as a time when he could notice things like a new car parked down the street without feeling the need to keep track of it.

The evening after the first float, it felt as though I was able to “conjure” the connection of higher and lower brain, and relax into sleep. That night, I did not experience any nightmares, and woke feeling rested, and calm.

Andrew described the improved sleep as the most important effect, for him, of the float sessions.  Nightmares are a constant experience for him, and few other things have helped his sleep.  Drugs, notably, are able to suppress the nightmares only by rendering him unconscious without leaving any feeling of restfulness. Floating gave him that feeling, and without side effects.

By midday on the day after, the familiar anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and depression returned, but carried the knowledge that the reduction in severity was possible.  This acted as a reminder of the sense of relief, rather than “falling” deeper into the depression. This reminder did accompany my symptoms for a few days after.

His sense of wellbeing and “near happiness” consistently lasted nearly a full day, and sometimes into the next. The duration was not predictable, but it seemed to be connected to how quickly his relaxation occurred while in the tank, and how long the “letting go” experience lasted.  His second float took the longest time to relax and “let go”, as anticipation of the experience was “higher” – this is a common occurrence, having the second float experience be markedly different from the first. His third float was easy and deeper, similar to his first float, and resulted in some symptoms being totally absent afterward.

A few more resources:

Nearly 20 percent of veterans who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq have post-traumatic stress disorder. Some have found help with an alternative treatment called "floatation therapy."

 

Justin Feinstein from the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) talks about the ability of float tanks to help people combat anxiety at the 2013 Float Conference.

Float away PMS!

Ok gentlemen you can tune this out, this blog is for the ladies! Unless, you want to make the lady in your life smile because you are thinking of her and that trepidatious time of the month when you tiptoe around on egg shells to keep her happy. ;)

This blog is inspired by the changes I have observed in my body with regular floating. This is MY TESTIMONIAL! Over the past 2 months, I have been able to float 2 to 3 times a week and I have noticed some interesting changes in my menstrual cycle. Mostly importantly, I have found relief from my PMS! GASP! What?!? NOOO WAAAYY!!!  

As I have progressed through my 20s and into my 30s, I have noticed my PMS symptoms getting worse.  I spend more time feeling bloated, more time being sore and more time being grumpy! :(
Last month, I noticed that I didn't suffer from the same level of moodiness, bloating and overall achiness. This month, when my Aunt Flow arrived, I was in disbelief.  I didn't have ANY of my pre-period symptoms! NO headache, NO swollen boobs, NO belly bloating, NO low back pain, no desire to eat a pound of salty sweet chocolate covered pretzles and none of the usual misery that I have experienced for the past DECADE!  The only thing different about my life right now is FLOATING! My diet has not changed. I am probably under more stress than ever, getting less sleep and exercise then usual.

I have started to read the book, Transdermal Magnesium Therapy by Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., ODM, DM (P)  and I am learning just how critical Magnesium is for every cell in our body. I also learned that there is a scientific explanation for what happened to my PMS!

"Magnesium plays a critical role in a wide range of essential activities including many functions relevant to premenstrual changes experienced by some women. Magnesium is classed as "nature's tranquilizer" and is so vital in those aspects of the Pre-Menstrual symptoms that relate to anxiety, tension, etc. Women with PMS have been found to have lower levels of red blood cell magnesium than women who don't have symptoms and the supplementation of magnesium has been found to be extremely useful in alleviating many of the PMS symptoms and even more effective when with taken with vitamin B6 at the same time. A Mg deficiency can cause blood vessels to go into spasms, so if you suffer from menstrual migraine Mg can be useful in preventing these spasms. Magnesium is necessary for serotonin symbiosis, which in turn is critical in mood regulation. Mg also appears to promote proper fluid balance, helping to ease the uncomfortable build up of excess fluid experienced by women prior to menstruation. Inadequate magnesium levels have also been found in women who experience premenstrual cravings and appetite changes."

WHOA! Magical Magnesium! 

I realize that most women don't own float centers and that floating 2-3 times a week is not practical or possible for everyone.  Don't worry, you can still get your body the magnesium it needs by simply soaking your feet in an epsom salt foot bath for 20 minutes. Epsom salt is available at grocery stores and pharmacies everywhere.  We also keep 50 pound bags on hand and will gladly sell you a bag upon request.

Any other ladies out there who have experienced similar relief from Transdermal Magnesium Therapy? Tell us about it!  We want to hear your story! Haven't tried Floating or Epsom Salt soaks?  What is stopping you?