Methods of Recovery: Float Therapy

by Lindsay Miller
with Pure Sweat + Float Studio

Of all the cutting-edge recovery methods available today, float therapy might just be the most relaxing. Also known as sensory deprivation therapy, floating is one of the recovery services Pure Sweat + Float Studio offers at its two locations in Belle Meade and Cool Springs. You’ll spend 40 or 60 minutes floating peacefully in its state-of-the-art flotation pod filled with 95-degree water and nearly 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt. The density of the Epsom salt solution makes the water so buoyant that your body becomes weightless, levitating on the surface. To further the effect, Pure Sweat + Float Studio’s contemporary float pods have customizable features to create your optimal healing environment, including ambient lighting, calming music, and an adjustable lid that can remain open or closed.

Float therapy relies on the weightlessness created by large amounts of Epsom salt to enhance the recovery process. The lack of gravity and pressure on your joints and muscles provide a therapeutic context for them to rest and relax, while your skin absorbs the healing effects of magnesium sulfate (the ingredients of Epsom salt). It has been shown to reduce lactic acid and inflammation brought on by sore muscles, speeding up recovery time for those aches and pains. Owner of Pure Sweat + Float Studio, Candice Bruder, says “We’ve helped a lot of people in pain. Floating is great to integrate with rigorous training and high impact sports. If you don’t properly recover your body, you can’t sustain the constant workload. It’s essential to performance.”

It’s no surprise that float therapy has been growing in popularity among elite athletes. Basketball star Steph Curry is a devoted Floater and Tom Brady even has a pod in his own home. Bruder says, “We’ve welcomed athletes from the Titans to the Vanderbilt Basketball team and even the Nashville Ballet. Interestingly, some athletes will float the day before a game. It gives them A-game focus. We also utilize the same float pods as the New England Patriots.”

Along with easing tight muscles, one study at UC Irvine confirms that floatation therapy is a “long-lasting and versatile treatment” for chronic tension headaches. The zero-gravity state soothes an array of chronic pain like arthritis, fibromyalgia, back and neck discomfort, inflammation and tendonitis. Dedicating the time to truly rest your full body will decrease muscular tension, accelerate full-body recovery, and potentially boost overall athletic performance.

Research shows that floating measurably reduces your blood pressure and heart rate, which will also lower stress levels. Even if you aren’t an athlete and just need to recover from a long day at work, the zero-gravity effect will fight a long list of issues brought on by high stress and anxiety. Lowering your blood pressure also insures significant preventive measures and risk reduction in strokes and heart attacks.

One of the most popular experiences of float therapy is the ability to simply R-E-L-A-X. According to the CDC, stress will be the second most debilitating disease by 2020. Numerous reviews of Pure Sweat + Float Studio have expressed their experience as an incredibly effective and accessible way to reduce stress related symptoms. “Everybody has stress, and it’s remarkable how it debilitates our mind, body and spirit,” says Meredith Lile, Owner of Pure Sweat + Float Studio, Cool Springs. “Creating time to remove that stress is truly a necessity for vitality.” In nationwide studies, participants encountered elevated moods, better sleep, and reduced cortisol levels. “It’s like having the feeling and benefits of a deep power nap,” says Bruder.

The brain’s response to floating is also quite phenomenal. Our brain waves are in constant motion and continually producing waves at multiple frequencies. Of the five main frequencies, sensory deprivation targets what is known as the Theta state, which is a drastically slower state for brain waves. It is most common during deep meditation and just before falling asleep. It is also the first phase in which we begin to dream. Theta waves are always creative, characterized by feelings of inspiration and usually combined with vivid imagery, very clear and creative thoughts, sudden insights, and feelings of happiness. This is all thanks to the release of endorphins, the body’s natural opiates.

Because float therapy is known to stimulate creativity, it has become a common practice for major business owners and artists to accelerate mental clarity and learning. It also provides an avenue for practicing or developing a deeper meditation.  “Some people, like me, have a hard time meditating at home or even relaxing. When I float, I have no choice but to unplug and let go. I need that context. It’s amazing what we can achieve when we quiet our minds and listen within,” says Bruder.

The benefits of floating will help achieve a shorter recovery time from anything performance or injury related, along with issues due to stress. Floatation therapy not only helps you relax, but puts you in a state of mental and physical weightlessness allowing for a ridiculous amount of health related benefits. From lower back pain to writer’s block, a visit to Pure Sweat + Float Studio could very well provide that method of recovery you have been looking for. It’s a quick and easy trip to pure relaxation.

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Methods of Recovery: Myofascial Release

by Lindsay Miller
with Steve Kravitz Physical Therapy

Developed in the 1960s by an osteopathic physician, Myofascial release, is a method of hands-on therapy that releases pain and tension with slow, prolonged stretching to affect a change in the connective tissues of the body, otherwise known as fascia. Think of the fascial system as a giant web internally wrapped around the entire system of the body surrounding every structure. It is one, head-to-toe, continuous unit, existing without interruption that permeates the body and enables all systems to operate in an integrated manner.

Myofascial release is unique because many injuries are not necessarily muscular in origin, but are connective tissue injuries within ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and other fascial structures. These injuries may create pain in the local area or seemingly unrelated areas of your body, known as referred pain, and is commonly thought to derive from trigger points. Trigger points are described as hyperirritable spots in the fascia surrounding the skeletal muscle where it is often difficult to know the exact source of the pain. The goal of myofascial release is to find the source of the pain and treat it with specificity, whether it is a fascial structure or a trigger point, to smooth out tension and restore mobility. New research supports the importance of maintaining healthy fascia in functional training and general exercise, considering it is the governing layer to our muscles. Due to the connective tissue having ten times as many sensory nerve endings as muscle, maintaining healthy fascia plays a major role in the movement, function, and position of the body during physical activity and everyday life.   

Dr. Steve Kravitz, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.T., owner of his private practice for 20 years, offers myofascial release treatments that help patients regain function and flexibility along with reducing and treating chronic pain. He says, “We offer a unique form of Physical Therapy by providing a one-hour, hands-on approach that is tailored to the patient’s specific needs.” Dr. Kravitz has also earned advanced certifications in over ten therapeutic disciplines including Myofascial Release and Trigger Point Therapy. He explains, “We pay special attention to the fascial system in each patient, where we identify problem areas and use manual therapy throughout the fascia to treat the whole body as a unit, rather than individual parts like traditional rehab.”

As a doctor of physical therapy, certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork, Dr. Kravitz combines many hands-on modalities to provide an effective, lasting, therapeutic, benefit through his progressive approach. Dr. Kravitz and his team of trained and accredited doctors of physical therapy use techniques that aim to mobilize and stretch the fascia in an attempt to free up the whole region of the body that is restricted. This creates greater flexibility, reduces pain, and improves functional and physiological movements.

Dr. Gena Thurston, P.T., D.P.T., C.I.D.N., of Steve Kravitz Physical Therapy says, “Myofascial release is an extremely effective way to access any layer of tissue tension. Often times, doctors refer to tight areas as trigger points and use injections with pharmaceutical substances to try and relieve the area.” She has also found dry needling as an adjunct to myofascial release highly effective and says it is a “swift treatment method for reducing these myofascial trigger points,” while avoiding the use of toxic substances.

One of the many benefits of Myofascial release is how relaxing the actual treatment can be for the patient. It is delivered through varying degrees of light touch to deeper pressure, which is highly effective at smoothing out the multiple layers of fascia, muscles, and surrounding structures. Patients often share how thrilled they are, because, during myofascial release, the patient can lie down and be relaxed throughout the entire treatment. The health benefits can be felt for weeks and months while still enjoying a calming restorative experience during the treatment itself.

There are a plethora of modalities to choose from when it comes to chronic and acute pain. Most common are chiropractic treatments and massage therapy. Chiropractors mainly use spinal manipulation to restore the mobility of the joints restricted by tissue tensions. While this can be effective at providing temporary pain relief, if the fascia is left untouched it will revert back to its previous state. Myofascial release aims to release these specific governing layers around the joint. This way, the joint and the associated tissue can remold into alignment without adjusting the bones beneath.

Although massages can help decrease tension, stress, and pain, these techniques can often glide over the problem spot and sometimes cannot access the deeper layer where the source of the problem exists.  Myofascial release therapy aims to specifically locate these problematic areas in the body and release this tissue tension for improving physiological function, decreasing pain and tightness, and restoring optimum health.

According to Dr. Kravitz, when pain and tightness occur in the body, it is best to go to a professional to be evaluated and treated. While pain and tightness may occasionally resolve naturally, if the discomfort persists, this can cause long-term issues in the body. Many people feel they can manage with self-care techniques like self-massage, stretching, rest, ice, heat, or pain medications. However, self-care methods may not address the deeper issue.  Myofascial release is effective at finding and releasing abnormal tissue tensions to help reduce the chance of long-term dysfunction, repetitive stress injury, and muscular imbalances to help improve overall flexibility, function, and athletic performance.

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