Flotation Therapy (Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy)

Flotation therapy involves floating in a tank of warm salt water, typically for an hour to an hour and a half at a time. This type of therapy—also called restricted environmental stimulus therapy—has been shown to alleviate stress, pain, swelling, and anxiety. People suffering from sleep issues and jet lag have also found flotation therapy to be helpful. This type of therapy is rooted in the body’s natural tendency to relax when floating in water that is a comfortable temperature—that is, a temperature the is cool enough for body heat to escape but not so cold that muscle action is required to raise the body’s core temperature. The posture used for floating—typically a supine position—promotes postural muscle relaxation, and blood flow in the skin capillaries remains uninterrupted because the water pressure on the skin is lower than the blood pressure. Thus, the person undergoing therapy does not feel the need to adjust his or her body position in order to relieve pressure on the skin. Furthermore, when the body is in a floating state, it releases endorphins, accelerates lactic acid removal, and increases flow in the lymphatic system. Floatation therapy also tends to reduce the amount of cortisol in the body. While this type of therapy may be offered in wellness settings, there is no specific flotation therapy licensing. However, the client needs simple instruction, and the provider of the therapy must keep the flotation equipment in safe and working order.