Effective Spa Treatments - Try Floatation Therapy  

by Pool Builders on 04-19-2007 in Articles

When it comes to getting away from the sea of troubles most of us face in modern life there is nothing quite like floatation therapy to make us feel buoyant again. Floating on water feels so simple, elemental, supportive and comforting - something we can probably link to our beginnings in the cosseting warmth of the womb.

Today we are spoilt for choice when it comes to floatation therapies, with many spas offering some sort of treatment, from small hydro baths right up to large pools. There are of course even floatation tanks for the home, not to mention the biggest tank of all - the sea. All we have to do is lie back and think of...nothing.

Beginnings
The origins of floatation dates back to 1954 when Dr John C Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist, began research into the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain. He tried many experiments with different kinds of float tanks in a bid to create a device that would deprive or restrict the number of external stimuli so that the brain and the individual could be tested in an atmosphere of isolation. Initially these devices were called Sensory Deprivation Chambers but in recent years this has been changed to Restricted Environmental Stimuli Therapy
The philosophy behind floatation therapy is to provide people with a way of improving physical, emotional or psychological health. Central to this is a need for deep relaxation, which has been validated by recent research showing that up to 80 - 90 per cent of people visiting a GP do so because of a psychosomatic or stress-related disorder.
How it works
The advantage of floatation therapy is that it enables most individuals to experience very deep levels of relaxation without needing to learn any special technique. The deep relaxation that occurs in floatation slows down bodily functions, heart rate and brain activity, allowing the conscious and analytical part of the mind to enter a state of deep rest and to be bypassed. It does this through the absence of stimuli such as light, visual images, noise, gravity and touch. Floatation also stimulates levels of the natural painkiller and endorphin, encephalon, which encourages a sense of well-being and euphoria. According to Dr Lilly 40 minutes of floatation is equivalent to an incredible eight hours of sleep.
It is also worth bearing in mind that short of becoming an astronaut and blasting into space, floatation is the only time our body weight becomes free from the effects of gravity - literally taking a load of our mind!
Forty minutes of floatation is the equivalent of eight hours of sleep

Benefits

With such a powerful form of relaxation it is no surprise that floatation provides the following therapeutic benefits:

Mind

Floatation is an excellent way of relieving stress (plus associated digestive tract conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and ulcers), depression and anxiety, as well as promoting healthy sleep. It is also believed that floatation stimulates and synchronises the left and right hemispheres of the brain, enhancing concentration, mental clarity, memory retention, self-hypnosis and facilitating freedom from phobias and addictions.

Body

The decrease in heart rate means it is ideally suited to people with cardiac conditions and high blood pressure. The fact that the body is completely supported and free from gravity encourages blood flow to the joints and releases muscle tension, making it effective for sufferers of musculoskeletal and rheumatic conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and chronic back pain. This pain relief is enhanced by the production of endorphins. Floatation has also been used to aid recovery for those with sporting injuries right through to patients with cancer. Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis also react well to floatation, particularly in Dead Sea salt water

Floatation pools

The range of floatation pools in spas has never been greater, from single person tubs to full size floatation pools. The latter can be found at destinations such as Nirvana Spa in Berkshire. These pools contain solutions of salts (often from The Dead Sea) which are heated to body temperature of 35 C, providing deep relaxation without the restriction of an enclosed environment, making them ideal for those who find tanks too claustrophobic.
Smaller single person floatation baths by companies such as Finders provide a more intimate method of relaxation. These baths sometimes combine hydrotherapy jets to tackle cellulite and improve circulation. Hydrofloat by Finders provides the essential qualities and benefits of traditional spa and hydrotherapy, together with the therapeutic benefits of Dead Sea salts. This neat facility, where a person floats in pure Dead Sea water, provides a custom-made environment with the additional control of sound, light and air. http://www.findershealth.com
Dry floatation
Dry floatation offers the feeling of weightlessness and benefits of floatation without getting wet. The dry floatation tanks have a rubber lining which a client lies on. This lining is folded over the body and the person is then lowered down and a support is removed, leaving the client cocooned and floating on the heated water below, albeit in a restricted manner. It is often combined with aromatic essential oils and particularly body wraps, which benefit from the heat generated below. Dry floatation is also an effective pre-massage treatment.
Floatation tanks
Floatation tanks still adhere to the same design principles laid down by Dr Lilly, but now make the most of modern production techniques. The tanks typically resemble egg-shaped enclosed bath tubs - usually made from fibreglass - with a door on top to allow access, and are built to eliminate all outside distractions and stimuli, although interior lights are usually provided. A large amount of Epsom Salts is added to water to create a 30cm deep pool of salt water in the tank, which is heated to body temperature. All these elements create an atmosphere that enhances relaxation and well-being. Tanks are not just limited to floatation centres and spas, with models finding a place in homes, sports clubs, health centres and even corporate headquarters.
Floating in nature - The Dead Sea

To experience the ultimate in natural buoyancy the place to go is most definitely Mother Nature's very own floatation pool - The Dead Sea. This remarkable stretch of water, described as a 'Sea of Peace' between Jordan and Israel (although it is actually a large lake), is the saltiest and most buoyant sea in the world, and at 400m below sea level is also the lowest point on earth. The jade green water (10 times saltier than the Mediterranean) contains 150 different minerals and salts, which imbues it with incredible curative powers. The high concentrations of magnesium make it particularly efficacious for sufferers of skin conditions such as psoriasis, while the presence of bromine has a powerful relaxing effect on the nervous system.

The sea's high salinity contributes to the highly viscous and oily water, which is so dense and supportive it makes your body literally 'sit' out of the water like a cork. The haze given off by the evaporating sea and high atmospheric pressure also filters out harmful UVB rays that cause sunburn, so you can enjoy your float without burning your belly!

Taking a dip in normal sea can also have powerful physical and emotional benefits, when we float in the ocean our bodies are busy absorbing health-giving minerals from the marine environment while being supported.

Places to float in the UK & Ireland

Nirvana Spa, Berkshire
This award-winning day spa in leafy Berkshire was the first in the UK to introduce large-scale floatation pools. Dead Sea salts with 21 minerals are combined with Nirvana's own pure natural source water to provide the water used in the spa's two floatation areas. The Celestial Room features a large circular pool that can hold up to six people at a time, who can relax and gaze at the star-domed ceiling and wall murals. A gentle current, dimmed lighting and ambient lighting enhance the sensory experience. The Ocean Room offers a more social environment in which to relax and take in the Dead Sea salts. Nirvana offers float sessions and an induction course.

The Floatworks, London
The Floatworks in Thrale Street, near London's South Bank, is billed as "the leading floatation centre in the world". The centre has nine individual floatation tanks, each situated in a lockable private room and equipped with a shower. The tanks are fitted with internal lights for beginners and those who feel uncomfortable in the dark. The centre has supplied 60,000 float sessions to 30,000 customers during its 13 years of operation.

Eden Spa at Hoar Cross Hall, Staffordshire
It may be in the heart of landlocked Staffordshire but guests at Eden Spa can immerse themselves in its large 25m salt water pool, while massage jets stimulate and invigorate different parts of the body. The pool also has a unique water volcano where the pressure of the water enables swimmers to float. http://www.edenspa.co.uk

The Forum Spa at The Celtic Manor, Wales
The Mineral Scalp Treatment involves a scalp massage with a conditioning mineral mud combined with the dry floatation. The treatment assists realignment of body and relaxation of mind.

Mount Juliet, Ireland
The Spa at Mount Juliet has a Dead Sea Discovery Flotation room where guests can experience a deeply relaxing 60 minute Dead Sea floatation treatment in Finders' Hydrofloat. http://www.mountjuliet.ie

Experience the Dead Sea

Jordan
The best spa destinations are based on the shores of The Dead Sea at Sweimeh. The Zara Spa at Moevenpick's Dead Sea resort combines traditional Arabic detailing with a range of floatation experiences. This includes an outdoor heated Hydro-Pool and two interior Dead Sea floatation pools. The neighbouring Jordan Valley Marriott Dead Sea Resort & Spa also has an excellent spa with a Dead Sea Salt Pool. Both resorts have a stretch of beach, and will soon be joined by the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, which is due to open in May.

Israel
The Sheraton Moriah Dead Sea resort is located on a beautiful secluded stretch of beach facing the Edom Mountains. The spa features a Sulphur pool and wide range of Dead Sea treatments. The Caesar Premier Dead Sea Resort & Spa Hotel's suitably Romanesque spa is equipped with a Dead Sea water swimming pool and a Sulphur pool.

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