I exercise regularly by running, boxing, cycling, strength training and doing HIIT workouts, and I definitely feel the after-effects of my workout routine. Specifically, I’m talking about muscle soreness, creaky knees from years of activity, a sore back from not stretching enough, and general wear and tear. I always have minor aches and pains from my workouts, but I’ve always written it off as part of the price I pay for health.
Recently, my running buddy told me about floatation therapy, aka sensory deprivation chambers. She tends to have muscle soreness and pains from years of workouts like I do and told me the therapy helped alleviate her sore back, tight hips, stiff neck, and more. Curious, I decided to find out more.
Floatation therapy is similar to mineral salt baths in the Dead Sea in Israel. Eight hundred pounds of Epsom salt are dissolved into about a foot of water, which you then float in for an hour. This much salt creates a zero-gravity environment, making floatation effortless, and the benefits endless.
Pair the float with a soundproof and lightproof room, and it’s said you’ll enter a deep state of meditation as you begin to feel weightless. Also, floatation therapy is said to help with high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic aches and fatigue, multiple sclerosis, asthma, pre-menstrual tension, jet lag, muscular, skeletal, skin and cardiovascular conditions, stress reduction, drug, alcohol and tobacco addictions, depression, and more. I had to see what this was all about. Maybe I could find some relief for my achy knees and back pain.
What Happens Before Your Float
Upon arrival at At Peace Floatation Spa in Colleyville, Texas, I had to sign a form saying I wasn’t under the influence of drugs before they showed me to my room. Apparently, taking hallucinogens in order to “trip out” during floats has become a problem, so they wanted to make sure I was sober. After filling out the necessary forms, I was taken to my room.
A sign prompted me to shower before entering the tub, so to not contaminate the spa water with deodorant, hair products, and body oils. After taking my required shower with their products, I put in the ear plugs given to me, and then took a step over towards the float chamber.
Entering the Float Pod
I opened a door and slid down into the shallow water in the tub. Without effort, my body bobbed across the top of the water. I fumbled with buttons on the side of my tub. “Constellation lights” made small, twinkling lights appear on the ceiling above the tub. “Oh, relaxing,” I thought. But that lasted about two minutes before I realized the lights were causing me to see spots.
“LED Lights” meant an aqua-colored light appeared from outside the tub in the room, but that didn’t do much for me. I hit the button that said “Audio/Music” and a nice ocean waves track began. I decided that was actually relaxing. Finally, I pushed the last button, “Room/Cabin Lights” and my entire room went black. “Oh no! Too scary!” I thought as I hurriedly turned the lights back on.
All in all, I wasted about 10 minutes pushing buttons trying to find something relaxing before I got brave enough to turn all the lights in the room back off, which created a sort of womb-like feel with the sound of ocean waves in the background.
On my back, I alternated moving my arms from down by my sides to above my head. I kept lightly pushing against the walls with my toes and then my fingers, moving my body through the tub like a log. I flopped over to my stomach at one point, keeping my head out of the water with a floating neck pillow. But that proved to be more work than relaxation, as my legs kept naturally drawing up like frog legs and it took effort to keep my face out of the water.
I decided I really needed to try to relax, so I flipped back onto my back. I moved my torso from side to side, swishing back and forth, telling myself I was stretching. “No, stop. Just relax,” I told myself. I closed my eyes and focused on the ocean soundtrack. I listened to my breath and began to hear my heartbeat. Slowly, I felt more and more weightless.
The water was the same temperature as my body, and it became hard to tell where my body stopped and the water started. I couldn’t tell where I was at in the tub until a finger or toe tapped the walls. My eyes became heavy, and I could tell I was starting to go into a Zen state. It was like resting on a cloud.
A light in my cabin came on, which meant the staff was alerting me my hour was up. “Wow, that went by quick,” I thought. I took the recommended second shower, washing off the salt and cleaning out my ears. As I was leaving, the staff gave me a glass of water and told me to stay hydrated, as a one-hour soak is comparable to a three-day fast and a fairly strong detox.
My skin felt softer, and I did feel relaxed, but other than that, I didn’t feel any different. I was starting to question this miracle treatment.
It wasn’t until later in the day that I noticed a difference. My back pain was gone and my neck felt like it had more mobility than normal. My knees weren’t creaking, either. I actually felt like a teenager again. It felt like I’d erased years of workout abuse.
This euphoric feeling last throughout the day, but by the next day, I could feel my chronic pains coming back. My knees started to feel slightly achy again, and my normal back pain came back as well. I didn’t feel bad, just like my “normal” self again. But the moment of relief from the float pod helped me believe in the power of salt and I decided that if done regularly, this therapy just might be good for my chronic workout aches and pains.