With a unique combination of physical and mental health benefits, flotation therapy is well-suited as a treatment of many diseases. Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder, is perhaps one of the best-known examples of how floating can provide much-needed relief.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder that affects approximately 2% of the population, and those who suffer from it often report experiencing some combination of a dull ache, stiffness, and/or tenderness across their entire body—usually in the muscles. As a result of living with chronic pain, people with fibromyalgia also frequently experience insomnia, headaches, fatigue, and stress.
Several case studies and academic research points to flotation therapy as a significant source of relief for symptoms of fibromyalgia(1). In fact, our Kearny, NJ floatation therapy center is part of the Fibromyalgia Flotation Project, which helps provide fibromyalgia patients with free or discounted floats as part of an ongoing research project.
How exactly can floating help fibromyalgia? There are many ways, both physical and emotional, that fibromyalgia patients find relief in the float tank:
Immediate and Ongoing Relief of Physical Pain
Thanks to its sense of weightlessness, floating provides immediate relief on the muscles and joints, making it a natural therapy for fibromyalgia patients. The effects aren’t just in-the-moment, however: in one major study, fibromyalgia patients reported feeling less and less pain and muscle tension over a duration of a few weeks of regular floating(2), not just immediately after exiting the tank.
Increased Quality of Sleep
Floating has been linked to better quality and frequency of sleep in general(3), and the same effects hold true for fibromyalgia patients. This is especially important as insomnia is a frequent problem for sufferers, and a lack of sleep only reinforces the cycle of fatigue and discomfort during the day.
Less Stress & Anxiety
Some fibromyalgia research has shown that stress can aggravate the physical symptoms of the disease(4), so any way to lower stress is a huge win for patients. Floating has been well-established as a method of alleviating stress, and coupled with the physical relief of symptoms, the relief can be extremely effective for fibromyalgia sufferers.
Boosted Magnesium Levels
Some research points to magnesium deficiencies as a possible cause (or contributing factor) to fibromyalgia(5). Given that float tanks are full of magnesium-rich Espom salt solution, fibromyalgia patients may find extra relief of symptoms thanks to absorbing magnesium through their skin during a float.
Enhancing Concentration and Focus
Some fibromyalgia patients report experiencing “fibro fog”—essentially, the inability to focus or concentrate, perhaps due to the discomfort of chronic pain(6). As many athletes have found, spending time in a float tank can help boost the powers of concentration, helping to restore some of the mental acuity impacted by “fibro fog”.
Fibromyalgia can be a devastating disease, but flotation therapy can help! Book an appointment now to try floating for the first time, purchase a gift certificate for a loved one suffering from fibromyalgia, or contact the Fibromyalgia Flotation Project to learn about joining in the ongoing research and enjoying free or discounted floats.
- Åsenlöf K, Olsson S, Bood SÅ, Norlander T. Case studies on fibromyalgia and burn-out depression using psychotherapy in combination with flotation-REST: Personality development and increased well-being. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 2007.
- The effects of floatation REST on the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Roderick Borrie, Tamara Russell, Stefan Schenider. Presented at Float Summit 2012.
- The Use of Floatation Rest in the Treatment of Persistent Psychophysiological Insomnia, UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project, 1989.
- Stress, the stress response system, and fibromyalgia. Manuel Martinez-Lavin. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 2007.
- Management of fibromyalgia: rationale for the use of magnesium and malic acid. Guy E. Abraham and Jorge D. Flechas, Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 1992.
- Fibro Fog, The Arthritis Foundation, 2015.