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How to Float Your Way to Peak Performance

We’re all too familiar with the fact that, as an athlete, the pursuit of peak performance is an ongoing journey. We also know that it's not just about the physical training; it's about fine-tuning the mind, body, and spirit to operate at optimal levels. At least that’s what we believe in here at DRYWORLD. We’re constantly exploring innovative methods to gain an edge. Today, that means we’re diving into float tanks.

“I came out super energized like I had slept for five days or returned from the best vacation. It was the most complete rest I’ve had in my whole life.” — Rebecca Rusch

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Here’s how to float your way to peak performance.

Picture this: You step into a serene, dimly lit room. The water in the tank is perfectly heated to match your body temperature. You slide into the buoyant, Epsom salt-infused water, and slowly, all sensory inputs fade away. It's just you, weightless, floating effortlessly in the void. This is the essence of float tank therapy, also known as sensory deprivation or isolation tanks.

The big question is, what benefits do float tanks offer to athletes looking to enhance their performance?

Recovery

First and foremost, float tanks provide a unique environment for complete relaxation and recovery. After grueling training sessions or intense competitions, our bodies are often battered and fatigued. We all know the feeling well.

Float tanks offer a sanctuary for physical rejuvenation, allowing muscles to relax fully and promoting faster recovery from injuries. The buoyancy of the water reduces the pressure on joints and muscles, facilitating effortless stretching and alleviating tension built up from training. Plus, the Epsom salts used in float tanks are thought to be helpful for inflammation due to breaking down into magnesium and sulfate in the water. Float tanks have also been shown to reduce the amount of lactic acid build-up in an athlete's muscles after a session, meaning less muscle soreness and faster recovery.

While cooling down, fueling up appropriately, and stretching will still be crucial for recovery, the experience of a float tank can be another great addition to the recovery regime to expedite things.

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Rest

We all need a good sleep, especially when recovering from a big day, event, whatever. If you’re not convinced sleep is crucial, check out the Law of 8-hour Sleeps. Long story short, rest is crucial for an athlete to be able to perform their absolute best. It turns out that’s another area where float tanks can help. Studies have shown that floating is more effective than napping when it comes to both psychological and physiological recovery.

Hand-in-hand with rest is relaxation. Playing high-level sports or competing in high-level athletics can be incredibly stressful. The excess cortisol from being stressed a lot can be harmful to your health. Further float tank studies showed that floating athletes had reduced levels of stress, anxiety, muscle tension, pain, and negative affect. You can imagine how all those things would benefit athletic performance.

Mental Fortitude

It's not just the physical benefits that draw athletes to float tanks; it's the mental sanctuary they provide. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: Your mental game is as important as your physical one.

Float tanks offer a rare opportunity for complete sensory deprivation, allowing athletes to reconnect (or even just connect) with themselves on a deeper level. In the absence of external distractions, you can enter a state of profound mental relaxation, fostering clarity, focus, and mindfulness. Even just having a moment to focus on your breath can be incredibly beneficial.

Float tanks are also a great way to practice visualization and mindfulness techniques that are shown to help improve your athletic performance under pressure. In fact, this runner says floating is similar to meditation. By immersing yourself in the sensory void of the tank, you’ll have time to learn to confront and manage your fears, doubts, and anxieties. This helps develop mental fortitude, enabling you to stay calm and composed in high-pressure situations, whether it's the final seconds of a game or the crucial moments before a performance.

Visualization and mental rehearsal are essential tools in an athlete's arsenal. In the weightless environment of the tank, you can vividly visualize your goals, rehearse techniques, and mentally simulate your upcoming performances. This form of mental practice has been proven to enhance skill acquisition, improve performance consistency, and bolster confidence.

Float to the Top

While float tanks alone won’t get you onto that podium, they can be an excellent tool to help you reach that next level. Thanks to their ability to promote quicker recovery, heavy rest and relaxation, and to help unlock meditation, mindfulness, and visualization, many athletes have found them to be exceptionally helpful tools. Want an example? Watch this video of Steph Curry talking about (and going for!) a float.

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The unfortunate thing about float tanks is that they can wrack up a solid bill. Not all of us can afford to have one in-house like Tom Brady. However, for someone who is potentially struggling to recover after an injury, who wants to treat themselves after a particularly grueling session, or who is struggling to get out of their head (or into it), float tanks can potentially help you un-roadblock yourself. Will you be giving it a try?

“It’s an opportunity to just relax, for one. You get away from all the stresses on court and in life, but it obviously has some physical benefits as well.” —Steph Curry

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