The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of flotation-restricted environmental stimulation therapy (FLOAT) on recovery from exercise.
Nineteen trained, male team-sport athletes (age: 21 ± 2 years) completed two trials separated by seven days; FLOAT, which included one-hour of FLOAT recovery following exercise, and CON, which included one-hour of passive recovery following exercise. Performance and pressure-to-pain algometer measures were taken pre and post exercise and the following morning. Performance measures included an isometric mid-thigh pull, countermovement jump (CMJ), a 15 m sprint, and a repeated sprint test. Perceived measures of muscle soreness (MS) and physical fatigue (PF) were recorded up to 24 h post testing. Salivary cortisol samples were collected pre and post exercise and post recovery. Sleep was monitored via wrist-actigraphy.
FLOAT was found to significantly enhance CMJ (p = 0.05), 10 m sprint (p = 0.01) and 15 m sprint performance (p = 0.05) with small to moderate effects (d = 0.21–0.68) for all performance measures, except CMJ (unclear), compared to CON. The results also show significantly higher pressure-to-pain thresholds across all muscle sites (p’s < 0.01) and lower MS and PF 12 h following FLOAT (p < 0.05). All sleep measures resulted in small to large effects (d = 0.20–0.87) with a significantly greater perceived sleep quality (p = 0.001) for the FLOAT trial compared to CON. There were no significant differences and a trivial effect size between trials for changes in cortisol concentration.
FLOAT may prove to be an effective method of exercise recovery, improving aspects of performance, pressure-to-pain threshold, perceived MS and PF, and sleep quality.