Improving physical exertion recovery times using floatation tanks

floatation tank in melbourne
Floatation tank in Melbourne, at Rest House Float Centre in Hampton East Image via Flickr : All Rights Reserved.

The enemy within all exercise routines is often the time of recovery, while many techniques exist and recovery phases are taken extremely seriously by athletes and body builders, the time taken to recover completely, ready for the next exercise session, is seen by some as time lost to making further gains.

Recovery is the period in which gains are made, as the body heals and repairs following exercise, it allows for the ability to train harder following successful recovery periods. There are a lot of different methods people use to aid recovery, from the more extreme such as ice baths and cryotherapy, to basics like diet and bed rest. What has been discovered in the last decade however, is the huge benefits that floatation therapy has on improving gains during recovery and aiding the speed of recovery in general.

Stress signals are often the major factor in the time taken to recover completely, following intense exercise, the body will release a series of chemical messengers into the body, targeting the areas that have been affected by the recent workout. While these stress signals tell the body about injury, they often also release a series of processes which go into a protective effect before actually causing any healing, this is why some athletes and professional body builders use methods such as ice baths following exercise, as a means of bypassing the stress effect and induce faster recovery times.

The key elements to the injury response from the body are the release of chemicals adrenaline, followed by Cortisol, ACTH and Lactic Acid. While adrenaline alone is not a serious problem, aside from raising blood sugars in response to the expectation the body requires more energy, the release and production of Cortisol, ACTH and Lactic Acid are known to cause a protective element around the areas of new injury, even small muscle strains will cause this process to occur, and the longer cortisol and lactic acid are affecting the muscles, the longer recovery will take.

Research has shown that by taking two or more hours of recovery within a floatation tank, will reduce the stress response greatly, and rapidly decrease the release of Cortisol, ACTH and Lactic Acid, Adrenaline will also be reduced, and in it’s place, release of endorphins will begin, which signals to the body that the injury sustained has been contained, and that repair and recovery can now take place. Endorphins act to dull pain receptors within the body, hence reducing or eliminating the stress signals, allowing the body to begin processing repair of proteins and silica based elements found within muscles and joints.

Even without prior injury, athletes often report increases in performance following floatation tank sessions on their own, this is mainly due to the fact that along with endorphins, floatation tanks are also able to induce an increase in oxygen uptake into the blood, increased oxygen allows for decreased respiration requirements, hence providing longer periods of activity and a reduced requirement for heavy breathing, resulting in increases in cardiovascular performance.

Floatation tanks have also shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, hence allowing the body to perform at a higher level, while exerting the bodily effects of an individual performing minimal exercise. In combination, all these effects lead to dramatic increases in both recovery, performance enhancement and athletic conditioning, meaning that from the novice exerciser to the professional sprinter or sports player, everyone can benefit physically from the introduction of floatation tank sessions to their regular exercise regime.