Dr. Jordan Metzl, a sports-medicine physician and author based in New York City, believes in “if-it-can’t-hurt-you medicine,” saying if something doesn’t do harm and it sounds like it might have merit, give it a try.
“Even if a therapy doesn’t have bona fide medical results, if it helps athletes to relax or de-stress, that alone can help with recovery,” says Metzl, who also emphasizes the importance of being a smart consumer. He recommends considering potential consequences and checking out reviews of treatments and facilities before you go.
In the name of research, I decided to try some of these sports-specific spa offerings myself, including flotation therapy. Keep in mind that each user experience is unique and, just like starting a new exercise regimen, it’s good to check with your doctor beforehand.
This requires a pod or tank filled with warm, skin temperature water and enough dissolved salt, usually Epsom salts, so that you float effortlessly. The idea is to experience weightlessness and sensory deprivation. Fans of “Stranger Things” will be familiar with the basic concept!
POSSIBLE BENEFITS: In addition to being incredibly restful, float sessions may reduce pain and stress, lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Epsom salts have magnesium, making floating an easy way to absorb the mineral through your skin.
MY EXPERIENCE: After giving myself a couple of minutes to adjust to being in the pod, I found it to be roomy and comfortable. Once the lid is closed, the air temperature, water temperature and your skin temperature are all the same. The water itself is unusual, because it has such a high concentration of salt that it almost feels slippery. It’s definitely a little trippy, but the floating was divine. Time passed surprisingly fast. I went from wondering “how much longer” to being shocked when the hour was over.
Don’t shave right before you float. Ouch! Be sure to cover any nicks or scrapes with Vaseline. I will definitely do this again.
Also, to ensure a clean float experience, without being exposed to chlorine or harsh chemicals, find a facility that cleans its float pods with a combination of UV light and hydrogen peroxide.
DR. METZL: “If something helps you to relax mentally or physically, then it promotes healing, even if indirectly.”
COST: $65 for a 60-minute float
*Prices quoted are for Fahrenheit Body Spas in Basalt, Colo. Prices will vary by location.