Athletic Performance

Floating maximizes the benefits of fitness training, exercise, and workouts.

  • Although exercise stimulates muscle growth, the growth occurs during relaxation, some 30-40 hours after exercise.
  • The deep relaxation of floating improves blood circulation, and accelerates the growth and regeneration of muscle tissue.
In 1981, the Dallas Cowboys, regular Superbowl winners, became one of top-line sport’s first advocates of floatation REST as a technique for developing the physical and psychological skills of their players. As sports psychology assumed an ever-growing role, along with a realization of the importance of relaxation training, many other eminent USA sportspeople – including the legendary Carl Lewis – started to incorporate floatation into their training regime.

For its relatively small size, Australia does disproportionately well at Olympic-level competitions. The training techniques of the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) are regarded as amongst the finest in the world. Since 1983 the AIS has been consistent proponents of floatation REST and has done an immense amount of research and case studies that demonstrate its efficacy. Jeff Bond (sports psychologist, AIS) goes so far as to describe the floatation tank as “a new dimension in sports training for the elite athlete”.

World-class athletes are highly motivated individuals. In the run-up to an important competition, an athlete may train for over 40 hours a week. Rigorous physical and mental training puts an enormous amount of stress on the athlete’s body and mind. There is a strong tendency for athletes to over-train and this can have as disastrous an effect on performance as under-training.

Strenuous physical training creates a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles.

Lactic acid is a toxic by-product of glucose metabolism. It begins to accumulate in the muscles within one minute of peak or anaerobic effort, and can remain in muscle tissue for three days.

An athlete training every day will accumulate increasingly large amounts of lactic acid, experienced by the body as increasing fatigue and chronic muscular tension or pain. Recent studies have directly linked lactic acid to high levels of anxiety and emotional arousal.

By its rapid evacuation of lactic acid from the body, floatation enables the athlete to train without strain.

The floatation tank offers the athlete an unprecedented degree of control over mood state, helping him or her achieve and sustain an optimal level of arousal during competition.

In a study by Dr Peter Suedfeld (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), recreational basketball players – tested one day before and one day after a single session of floatation plus visualization – showed an astonishing mean improvement of 37% in free-throw success compared to control groups.

Suedfeld followed this up with a study of recreational darts players’ ability to throw “bull’s-eyes”. The subjects – tested immediately before and immediately after a single session of floatation plus visualization – showed an impressive 13% improvement in accuracy compared to control groups.

Interestingly, another of the test groups in Suedfeld’s dart-throwing study – one assigned to floatation without any visualization exercise – showed an 11% improvement.

REST researchers have documented the effect of floatation in improving motor skills across a wide range of activities: basketball throws, rifle shooting, bowling, tennis, gymnastics, dart-throwing, and even performance in a flight simulator.