Floating for Sports Performance
A professional athlete spends a huge amount of time trying to fine-tune their routine to optimize their skill, ability, recovery and performance, so it’s not surprising that more and more elite athletes are using floatation therapy to give them a leg up. Professional sports teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys have gone so far as to install floatation tanks in their own training facilities. But it’s not just the muscle recovery that have convinced them to float: floatation therapy is fast becoming a go-to tool in sports performance psychology and visualisation.
Why it Works
With busy training regimes, the physical demand on the body and the pressure to perform, athletes can struggle with rest and relaxation which are a crucial and often underrated component of health. A float tank is filled with 500kg Epsom salt and 650L warm water, creating a perfectly buoyant environment without pressure points for the body to relax.
Floating also provides you with a distraction-free environment where you can unplug from the world and enjoy an hour (or more) of time to yourself. Athletes often find this space ideal for visualising their training and performance. There are few places that are as physically comfortable and completely void of light and sound as a float tank, which lends itself to deep contemplation, meditation and reflection.
Athletes will try almost anything to improve their recovery time and look after their physical bodies – it’s part of the job! The science is showing that float tanks can help enhance rest periods, alleviate muscle soreness and reduce blood lactate levels.
At our very own Waikato University, a study of 60 elite international athletes across a range of 9 sports completed a float session following exercise training for their sport while a control group napped. Participants filled out pre- and post-float questionnaires and results demonstrated that a single float session significantly enhanced mood and lowered perceived muscle soreness compared to the control group.
Train the Mind – the Body will Follow
Stephen Curry was the man to watch in 2015 after winning the NBA MVP award and leading the Golden State Warriors to their first championship since 1975. He became an outspoken advocate of float tanks for not only the physical recovery of the body, but of the ability to unplug from all the noise and distractions that come with being an elite athlete. Floating every two weeks, he uses the tank to harness focus and visualise his performance goals. Stephen partnered up with Kaiser Permanente last year to showcase how he prepares for his role on the basketball court using floatation therapy to train the hardest part of his game: his mind.
Other Athletes who Float
Floating is not exclusive to any one sport. Since their inception, float tanks have been used by professional athletes to improve recovery and up their performance, including:
Tom Brady – New England Patriots quarterback
Aly Raisman – Olympic gold medallist gymnast
Tom Watson – UFC fighter
Phillips Odowu – Olympic silver medallist triple jumper
JJ Watts – NFL defensive end
Wayne Rooney – English professional footballer
Rebecca Rusch – world champion mountain bike racer
Even the Australian Institute of Sports has included floatation therapy in their athletes’ training regime! Are you ready to up your game?
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