Floating in sports medicine

Apr 07, 2024float team

Synchronization of body, mind and emotion

Top athletic performance depends on the interaction of physical, mental and emotional abilities . Modern training methods are therefore aimed at helping athletes to control their inner self and develop a synchronicity of body, mind and feeling. When body, mind and emotion come together in a seemingly effortless interaction, we often speak of the flow state . We achieve the highest performances that are imaginable and impossible. In this blog post, you will learn how floating contributes to these moments of peak performance and is used specifically for regeneration , muscle building and injury prevention .

Mental strength

Today, top performances are decided primarily in the mind. Mental strength and clarity are therefore the deciding factors between victory and defeat. Floating helps to promote the mental strength of athletes on various levels.

“It's one of the only places where you can really get unplugged from all the noise and distractions that go on with daily life."

Stephen Curry on floating, 4 x NBA Champion

Relaxation as preparation

The ability to think strategically, to structure the game, to give decisive impulses and to make clear decisions is an important key element in sporting competitions. Especially in the run-up to competitions or games, the combination of conscious deep relaxation and stimulus reduction creates the opportunity to gain clear analyses and approaches to solutions.

Self-confidence and emotional stability

The enormous pressure caused by media and game situations is one of the biggest challenges for top athletes. Floating offers a safe place to retreat. A counterpoint away from arenas, media hype and external expectations. Balance, inner peace, security and self-confidence come to the fore.


Various situations in competitive sports require a well-controlled sequence of very complex movements. Often there is no opportunity to pause or think, movement sequences must be carried out quickly and automatically . Milliseconds are the deciding factor. Floating can be used specifically to visualize movement sequences and thus systematically strengthen the muscle memory that is necessary for complex and abrupt movements. The low-stimulus environment creates a state in which the brain is particularly receptive and optimal focus on specific sequences and situations is possible .



Most sports injuries are not caused by direct physical contact, but by incorrect muscle tension, stretching or strains. The best way to prevent this type of injury is to loosen up the muscles (warm-up exercises). Floating can provide targeted support by reducing general muscle tension after just a few minutes and thus contributes substantially to preventing tension-induced sports injuries.

Pain relief

Neuroendocrinologist John Turner and psychologist Thomas Fine from the Medical College of Ohio are researching the psychobiological effects of floating. Biochemically, floating not only significantly reduces stress-related biochemicals and thus increases stress tolerance, but has also been proven to relieve pain and induce a feeling of mild euphoria.

“Virtually all of our chronic pain patients have said they forgot about their pain while floating.”

Dr. Thomas Fine, Associate Professor - Department of Psychiatry, University of Toledo

Floating stimulates the body to release endorphins, which are the reason for pain reduction and euphoric feelings.


However, injuries can never be ruled out in sport. This makes it all the more important for athletes to return to their previous level as quickly and as resiliently as possible after injuries. The weightlessness in the float pool accelerates healing processes and ensures comprehensive relief of muscles, tendons and joints.

Lactate formation & regeneration

Physiological aspects

Lactate is formed as a metabolic intermediate during the breakdown of carbohydrates, during physical exertion or anaerobic exercise. The consequences of excessive lactate accumulation are fatigue, pain and muscle cramps. The elimination of gravity while floating enables the faster removal of lactic acid and thus demonstrably reduces the lactic acid content in the blood. Tension and strain on the muscles are significantly reduced.

Mental aspects

The build-up of lactic acid can significantly impair an athlete's ability to think clearly. It is often particularly difficult to remain calm, composed and focused, especially in the final stages of a game or competition. By lowering lactate levels, floating has a strong positive effect on nerve strength, strategic thinking and mental clarity.

Muscle building

Allow growth

During training, the muscles are stimulated with high intensity. However, the strengthening and growth of the muscles take place almost exclusively in phases of relaxation. The experience of weightlessness allows all muscle groups to relax deeply. A float session after intensive training can therefore contribute greatly to building muscle. The best results in muscle building are achieved by stimulating growth through training and "allowing" it through relaxation.


further reading

Caldwell, LK, Kraemer, WJ, Post, EM, Volek, JS, Focht, BC, Newton, RU, Häkkinen, K., & Maresh, CM (2022). Acute Floatation-REST Improves Perceived Recovery After a High-Intensity Resistance Exercise Stress in Trained Men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 54 (8), 1371-1381. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0000000000002906.

O'Hara, R., Sussman, LR, Sheehan, R., Keizer, B., Tiede, JM Flotation-Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (2022). A Proposed Therapy for Improving Performance and Recovery in Special Forces Operators - A Narrative Review. J Spec Oper Med, 22 (4), 65-69. doi: 10.55460/98PG-19VH. PMID: 36525015.

Broderick V., Uiga L., Driller M. (2019). Flotation-restricted environmental stimulation therapy improves sleep and performance recovery in athletes. Perform. Enhance. Health, 7 (1-2) . doi: 10.1016/j.peh.2019.100149.

Driller MW, Argus CK (2016). Flotation-restricted environmental stimulation therapy and napping on mood state and muscle soreness in elite athletes: A novel recovery strategy? Perform. Enhance. Health., 5 (2), 60–65. doi: 10.1016/j.peh.2016.08.002.

Morgan PM, Salacinski AJ, Stults-Kolehmainen MA (2013). The acute effects of flotation restricted environmental stimulation technique on recovery from maximal eccentric exercise. J. Strength Cond. , 27 (12), 3467–3474. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828f277e.

Wallbaum, A. B., Rzewnicki, R., Steele, H., & Suedfeld, P. (1991). Progressive muscle relaxation and restricted environmental stimulation therapy for chronic tension headache: A pilot study. Journal of Psychosomatics, 38 (1-4), 33–39.

Turner, JW, Fine, TH (1983). Effects of relaxation associated with brief restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) ​​on plasma cortisol, ACTH, and LH. Biofeedback Self Regul., 8 (1), 115-26. doi: 10.1007/BF01000542. PMID: 6309253.

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