You may be surprised to learn that arthritis affects more than 60 million people yearly, making it one of the most common disabilities in the country. There are many different types of arthritis, and people are impacted in different ways by it, but two of the most common forms are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Osteoarthritis wears down the joint cartilage and can alter bone shape, while Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints.
Both of these can cause intense joint pain, body fatigue, stiffness and mobility issues, having a lasting impact on quality of life. Even the simplest of tasks can often be too difficult to perform due to pain. With Rheumatoid Arthritis in particular, since it’s an autoimmune disorder, there is evidence pointing to outside stress exacerbating the issue and causing even more pain and stiffness. While medications, exercise, and healthy eating are some of the most common treatment routes, those who suffer from arthritis often still have difficulties with their day-to-day activities despite taking steps to alleviate them.
Another avenue of treatment people have explored is pool therapy, which offers a unique space where the buoyancy of the water can take weight off of the joints while still allowing work on a range of motion exercises with less strain. The warm water used by the pools also provides benefits, as it helps ease muscle pain while loosening the body, which has shown to be especially beneficial for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The idea of using warm pools for healing is not a new concept: the use of natural hot springs for body ailments has been around for thousands of years, with cultures all around the world using them to find relief.
Similarly, people have been using the float tanks for pain and stress relief since they were first developed. The anti-gravity effect of the tank lets the body loosen and relax, offering the joints and muscles an opportunity to release tension and heal. As a result, people from all walks enjoy floating to ease their aches.
Additionally, time spent in float tanks has been shown to lower blood pressure and drop cortisol levels, leaving you with a relaxed and calm state post-float. With both the increase in knowledge of pool therapy as a treatment, as well as the rise in availability and knowledge of float tanks, it was only a matter of time until people began to turn towards the tank for a possible treatment option for arthritis – and the research has been extremely promising.
Early pilot studies began popping up looking into floating for arthritis relief, all with similarly positive outcomes: nearly all those who completed these early trials saw benefits in one way or another. Participants reported being once again able to perform tasks that had become too difficult. Some saw a decrease in the need for pain medication, as well as general pain reduction.
One study showed how range of motion could be increased through floating, likely due in part to soaking in warm water, allowing the muscles and joints a chance to relax and loosen. The high concentration of the Epsom salts may also be a contributing factor, allowing for further relaxation and healing to the muscles, simulating forms of natural hot springs used in the past for body pain.
While the results of these early studies are promising, more evidence is needed before any claims can be made definitively. Despite that, testimonials from those suffering from arthritis continue to pour in, applauding the tank as a great source of healing. Many continue to find the relief that floatation tanks have to offer, and continue to spread the word of the wonders it can do.