Floating For Physical Recovery and Training

Float REST Research

In the 1980s, IRIS began delving into the effects of REST on professional level athletes (Stanley J., Mahoney M., & Reppert S., 1982)(Lee, A. B. & Hewitt, J., 1987). Given the substantial benefits on clinical populations, researchers thought it was worth investigating the benefits on physically fit individuals. What they found was literally “game changing.” They saw a marked improvement in tennis players that were already considered “plateaued,” meaning they gained no significant benefit from additional training. This performance increase was nearly immediate and lasted for several days (McAleney, P. J., Barabasz, A. & Barabasz, M., 1990).

Other studies have also shown improved reaction time (Wagaman J. & Barabasz A., 1993), improved marksmanship in rifle shooting (Barabasz, A., Barabasz M., Bauman J., 1993)  and archery (Norlander, T., 1999), as well as shortened injury recovery time (Lee, A. B. & Hewitt, J., 1982). Visualization, creating an environment where athletes can visualize the competition and actually “see” themselves winning, has shown great results in a float tank over control environments (Lee, A. B. & Hewitt, J., 1987). Furthermore, visualization in a float tank is more effective than in other relaxation environments (Suedfeld, 1990).

The effects aren’t just psychological, however. Biometric studies have shown that there’s a reduction in lactic acid buildup (Morgan, P. 2013). In a recent study of extreme athletes (those who competed on an international level in a wide range of sporting events), Dr. Driller found that when they used Float REST during the competitive season, along with napping during the treatment, the participants had less muscle soreness and an improved mood state compared to controls (Driller, 2016).

Chamber REST Research

While Chamber REST research hasn’t shown the same level of impact on physical performance that Float REST has, it does still provide an opportunity for athletes to practice visualization techniques and offers high level improvement in already skilled subjects (Stanley J., Mahoney M., & Reppert S., 1982).

A 1993 study tested students in rifle marksmanship and dry REST. While the control group showed consistent marks before and after, the REST group showed significantly increased marks for 9 out of 12 subjects. The 3 that didn’t improve admitted to either falling asleep or engaging in fantasies unrelated to marksmanship inside the chamber (Barabasz, 1993).

Anecdotal Evidence

Professionals in a wide range of industries have used float tanks to aid physical recovery. In the 80s and 90s, the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles each had float tanks to improve players’ recovery time. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors said that floating played a big role in the performance that earned him a unanimous MVP title in the 2015-2016 season. The Chicago Cubs and the New England Patriots have float tanks in their training rooms, both installed when those teams won the World Series and the Superbowl, respectively.

Several MMA fighters have found float tanks to be beneficial for their training process. Many of whom have been introduced to the practice through Joe Rogan, who is an announcer and prominent figure in the MMA world.