Relieving Stress and Pain With Floatation Therapy

The popular West Coast wellness craze known as floatation therapy is making its way to Massachusetts.

Many people say it helps ease pain, stress, and anxiety. Those who do it swear by it even though there are not many large studies on the medical benefits.

Emily Colebrook found floating was better for her pain than powerful prescription medications. She said her mind and body was in total chaos from her pain after surgery that removed cancerous tumors from her back. She floats every two weeks.

"I just feel good," she said.

Clients lie down in float tanks that are filled with 11 inches of water. The water is denser than the Dead Sea because it is infused with 900 pounds of Epsom salt and kept at skin temperature. When the clients lie down, their bodies float with no effort due to the salt. It creates a sensory deprivation experience.

People with high blood pressure, kidney problems, diabetes, skin conditions or any other medical problem that might be affected by the magnesium in the salt should consult their doctors before getting in the tank.

Sara Garvin said her center has booked more than 12,000 floats in the two years she opened "Float" in Somerville. She said the effects of floating are cumulative, so most clients are encouraged to try it at least three times.

Half her customers come to manage pain while the other half aim to achieve clarity. A 90-minute session costs $75. Floatation centers are required to adhere to strict cleaning and local health department guidelines.

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