09 Nov Floating for Fibromyalgia Relief
Float therapy has been around for a long time. In the 1950s, John C. Lilly, M.D. recognized the therapeutic effects of having patients effortlessly float in water heated to skin temperature and saturated with magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) for increased buoyancy.
The experience came to be known as Flotation REST (restricted environmental stimulation technique).
Today, many recognize the benefits of Flotation REST for those coping with fibromyalgia (FM), a chronic condition that impacts the quality of life for millions of Americans. In fact, the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) estimates that approximately 10 million people in the United States suffer from the condition. The NFA estimates that 75-90 percent are women. Those with FM often endure a host of symptoms, including chronic pain, anxiety, stress, muscle tension and sleep difficulties.
Benefits of Flotation Therapy
Floating calms the mind and body of many a patient dealing with the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Here are some of the specific benefits researchers have documented.
- Stress relief
Pioneering research by Dr. Thomas Fine and Dr. Roderick Borrie identified many positive effects of Flotation REST therapy on key stress indicators, including cortisol production, blood pressure and muscle activity.
Another study focused on the use of Flotation REST therapy in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). This is highly relevant because the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) estimates that about one in five fibromyalgia patients have also been diagnosed with an anxiety or depression disorder.
- Pain management
Fine and Borrie also noted the immediate pain relief experienced by certain subjects. The positive effects can be extended into the future by continuing to embrace “REST and other relaxation-based therapies.”
- Relief of muscle tension
Researchers have also explored the positive effect of floating on tight, stiff muscles. One pilot study noted improvement after as few as three flotation sessions. One study participant from the UK said, “My mood has lifted. I am able to stay out of bed much longer and my pain level has been much lower.”
- Magnesium absorption
The magnesium salts in a float tank can be beneficial to FM patients as well. Magnesium is a key mineral associated with hundreds of bodily functions. A deficiency may contribute to the adverse effects of fibromyalgia. The NFA cites a Mayo Clinic study of magnesium compounds applied to the skin to help relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Enhanced sleep
If you have fibromyalgia, you may find it challenging to get good, restful sleep. Some individuals struggle with restless leg syndrome as well. Deep relaxation while floating often promotes enhanced sleep. A positive cycle is set in motion as better sleep often reduces fatigue. In turn, less fatigue may reduce FM symptoms.
Many individuals report that these numerous benefits combine to enhance an overall sense of well-being welcomed by those coping with fibromyalgia.
What to Expect from Floating
First of all, the water is saturated with magnesium sulfate to create a weightless environment. After you shower, you’ll float effortlessly enjoying a one-hour session that is long enough for you to let go and truly relax.
Why not try floatation therapy and become a floater? You may very well find that the sensation of weightlessness, near-zero stimuli and deep relation will deliver a truly unique and therapeutic experience.
Contact Us Today
At Still Life Massage and Float, we view flotation therapy as a key component of our long-term wellness program for those with fibromyalgia. Our Bellingham location is on Bellwether Way, overlooking the harbor. For further information, or to schedule a session, please contact us today!