Last month, for a 90-minute flotation therapy session, I finally got back a Christmas gift certificate. Flotation therapy (technically known as flotation REST–environmental stimulation reduction therapy) was developed by a neuroscientist in the 1950s and involves the flotation of an enclosed water-filled tank. The water is body temperature heated and contains so much Epsom (active component: magnesium sulfate) that it floats without any effort.
Upon researching the benefits of flotation therapy for fibromyalgia and chronic pain I added my gift certificate to my Christmas wish list. In a study conducted in 2012, 81 patients with fibromyalgia reported flotation therapy that “produced substantial temporary reductions in pain, muscle tension, anxiety and tranquility, and significant increases in relaxation, well-being, vitality and easiness of motion,” the report stated. A large research study called the Fibromyalgia flotation project is underway. “The quality of sleep has also improved significantly.”
I was shown a short video with instructions for before and during my float when I arrived at East Coast Float Spa in West Chester, Pennsylvania and took a short tour of the facility. I chose East Coast as float rooms rather than float tanks when I was looking into floating installations in my area. (Smaller float tanks and they are not ideal for claustrophobic people.)
Flotation Therapy for Fibromyalgia
One of East Coast Float Spa’s three floating quarters.
Each of the three floating rooms on the Eastern Coast has a small dishwasher area and a shower before and after the float. I shrunk into a diminished lit float pool and started my session after showering. The pool has an area of about 12 inches saturated with 1000-pound Epsom salts and has a king-size bed.
I must confess that my anxiety kicked in a few moments during my float session. The region of the swimming pool is dark but a little black light that reflects the water. No sound or music. There is no tone. My breathing was all I could hear, as my ears sank underneath the mud. If you’re susceptible to the game, like I am, to be in silence for 90 minutes only with your own thoughts, it can be very upsetting, but the feelings of anxiety flowed down and flowed down and eventually faded away. I thought at some point, “This must be how it feels when you’re in the womb of your mother, all you can hear is beating her heart.”
It didn’t take much energy to float, and I wasn’t in agony for the first time in so long, long time. Let me say this again: I haven’t been in pain! My body was suspended as if no gravity, but only the hot water, silence, quiet could be enjoyed. I wondered why I’ve been waiting for that for so long.
Then a bright overhead light clicked to signal that my session had finished. (The only drawback was that darn glare! They were supposed to add red or gold light bulbs so they’re not that jarring.)
When I got up out of the swimming pool, my body felt heavy when gravity caught, and the pain came back–not as bad, but always with chronic pain to remember my life.
As an additional service, East Coast also offers a zero-grade oxygen bar and massage chairs. I tried both of them, but neither was a big fan. For future visits, I would definitely miss them.
But I said, “future visits.” Yes, future visits would definitely be made, because I had less pain and less tension on the first float. I still feel the benefits a few days later, when I write this. My next session, I can’t wait! In years to come, I have the impression that my hubby would give me flotation gift certificates.