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First float tank experience tips

9 Tips for a Great First Float Therapy Experience

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If you’ve booked your first float therapy experience, I’m sure you’re excited and looking forward to your session, but you may also have a few questions.

Even though float therapy has been around for quite some time (the mid-1950s!), it still feels pretty new and isn’t a very mainstream form of therapy in many areas. As a result, there are many misconceptions about what float therapy is like and some are hesitant to give it a try.

Let me encourage you to keep reading and see that it’s not so scary or mysterious. My goal for this post is to answer all of your questions and help you to relax so that you are able to truly enjoy your first float therapy experience.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission when you click on these links at no additional cost to you.

My first float therapy session was with the lovely people at Heal by Touch here in central Florida. If you’d like to read in detail about my float therapy experience, please check it out on my sister site, Okie Sunshine.

benefits of float therapy

What exactly is float therapy?

During your first float therapy experience, you will be instructed to lay down in a float therapy tank. These can take different forms such as a pod, tank, or even a tub. The water is heated to 96℉ to match approximate body temperature and contains hundreds of pounds of epsom salt. The addition of salt enables the floater to experience weightlessness and to feel as if they were “floating through space.” Surprisingly, because of the amount of salt, only about 1.5 ft of water is needed to float! During my experience, the water level was only about to my mid-shin.

Float therapy is also known as “sensory deprivation therapy.” The goal is to remove the feeling of all senses, to allow your body and mind to disconnect and rejuvenate.

By floating in water that is the approximate same temperature as your body and surrounding air, the sensation of touch is removed. Many float therapy tanks are pitch dark (with optional lighting), removing the sense of sight. The silence of the tank of course corresponds to a lack of hearing. Taste and smell…well, I wouldn’t recommend tasting the salty water, that’s for sure!

What is float therapy good for?

So besides feeling amazingly relaxed and refreshed, float therapy can also:

  • reduce muscle tension and feelings of stress or anxiety
  • treat migraines and headaches
  • act as an anti-inflammatory for the whole body
  • improve sleep, insomnia, and jet lag

One hour of float therapy can equal up to 4 hours of R.E.M. sleep in its ability to help your body relax, heal, and recover. Pretty awesome, right?!

As a busy mom, taking the time to rest and for self-care is so important. A float therapy session gave me the chance to just be still and quiet by myself. Pure magic, haha.

What are the benefits of floating in epsom salts?

So why salt water instead of pure water? Think back to swimming lessons when you had to control the arch of your back, breathing, and wave your arms. Now, forget all that! The addition of salt will help you float effortlessly.

Epsom Salt Benefits

Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is a popular remedy to ease health problems such as muscle soreness and stress. It’s affordable, easy to use, and harmless to the body when used appropriately.

Many claim that soaking in Epsom salt may be a way to absorb more magnesium in the body. Magnesium can help promote sleep, reduce stress, and aid in constipation.

Epsom salts are also a common aid in sports performance and recovery, and can help reduce pain and swelling.

Floating in Epsom Salt

According to this article on Forbes, using salt in flotation therapy also

  • contributes to healthier hair, skin, and nails
  • offers complete relief from pain (due to no pressure on the body)
  • improve posture by gently elongating the spine.

What To Expect At Your First Float Therapy Experience – 9 Tips

Ok, so here’s what you really came for – tips to get the most out of your first float therapy experience. Let’s go!

first float therapy experience - 9 tips

1. Go with an open mind.

Your first time doing anything new may be a little intimidating and you won’t totally know what to expect. I’ve found the my second time floating was much more enjoyable – mainly because I was more comfortable and had experienced it before.

Let your therapist walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Then, relax and enjoy your session! If you decide floating is not for you, then that’s totally fine. But try to give it the benefit of the doubt and a shot before making up your mind.

2. Don’t shave.

Yikes. Really, just don’t. If you happen to nick yourself or have some razor burn after shaving, the salt water will burn like crazy! It will be extremely hard to relax if the salt water is agitating your skin. Many studios provide Vaseline (or you can bring some from home) to cover up any scratches or sores.

My therapist at Heal by Touch recommended to not shave within 24 hours of the appointment, so I will use that as a baseline going forward.

3. Avoid caffeine.

I love caffeine, but not on float days. Caffeine is a stimulant – it “wakes you up!” When enjoying your first float therapy experience, you will want to relax and unwind without all of the hype.

If you’ve gotta have your morning cup of Joe, opt for decaf just for today or make sure to finish it up at least 4-6 hours beforehand.

4. Take it easy on the liquids.

I can’t think of many other things that would wreck your float session like having to go potty. The last thing you want to have to worry about is holding your bladder while trying to relax and reconnect with yourself. Plus, after being in the warm water, that will be a chilly walk!

Spare yourself and make sure you use the bathroom before you begin your session.

5. Relax.

Duh, right? But really. Relax. Don’t try to have any kind of experience other than the one you’re enjoying. You can’t float “wrong,” so stop worrying if you’re doing it right or getting as much out of it as you “should.” Breathe and enjoy your uninterrupted time of peace and quiet.

6. Go wherever your thoughts take you.

If you’re like me, you have a hard time shutting your mind off. It can be frustrating because I feel like I’m chasing all kinds of mental bunny trails when all I want to do is lie in quiet and turn my mind off. Let your mind wander. It’s ok. Having the uninterrupted time to think and process may be just what you need.

The more you fight against yourself and your mind, the less you are able to relax and calm yourself.

7. Avoid touching your face.

Again with the salt water. If your facility doesn’t provide a washcloth, ask for one to take in with you. Just don’t let it get wet! If water does happen to splash on your face, use the rag to wipe it off instead of your wet hands.

Nobody wants salt water in their eyes or mouth!

8. Transition back to the “real world” slowly.

As much as possible, don’t rush back to the real world after your first float therapy experience. Transition slowly. You want to ease back into life, not give yourself whiplash to get back in action.

If available, have a seat in the lobby and enjoy some easy sips of water or a warm beverage (you can have your caffeine now if you want, haha). There is such a thing as “float brain.” You may feel spacey, like when you first wake up in the morning or from a long nap.

Savor the float afterglow.

9. Combine your first float therapy experience with a massage.

This is one of my favorite tips! A massage is a more well-known form of therapy, but these two really compliment each other. Floating first can be a great way to settle in and quickly relax for your therapy session. The pre-shower helps to transition from the outside world to your private therapy suite. After floating, you are much more relaxed and limber to get the most out of your massage.

I’ve had a massage both before and after a float, and I think I prefer to float first. Coming directly from a float therapy session and hot shower, I was already very loose and limber and able to enjoy my massage more than if I had just walked in. Plus the heated table felt extra luxurious!

Frequently Asked Questions About Your First Float Therapy Experience

I’ve got a few more questions to answer for you, but if there’s something I missed, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to give you a solid answer!

float therapy questions and answers

Is float therapy safe?

Generally speaking, yes, floating is a safe form of therapy for most people.

However, if you have uncontrolled epilepsy, drug or alcohol intoxication, infectious disease, open wounds and serious psychological conditions, consult your physician or therapist before engaging in float therapy. You may also want to consult your physician if you are pregnant.

As always, if unsure, it is best to consult a doctor or medical professional.

Is float therapy covered by insruance?

Typically, no. At least not from what I could find. According to Healthline, the cost for a one-hour float session at a flotation center or float spa ranges from about $50 to $100, depending on the location. Keep in mind that a shorter amount of time may be best for your first float therapy experience (around 30 minutes), which may be less expensive.

If your insurance does cover this form of therapy, you have even more reason to give float therapy a try!

Do you wear a bathing suit in a float tank?

Ah yes, the question we all really want to know. Many facilities have completely private suites for your float session. Remember, this is supposed to be a positive and relaxing experience, so do whatever you feel is best for you. If you are more comfortable wearing a bathing suit, by all means do so!

For me, I vote birthday suit over bathing suit!

How often should you do float therapy?

Research has found that 3 floats within a 10-21 day period produces by far the best initial results.

The more often you float, the better your results will be. There is an accumulative effect – meaning each time you come, your mind and body respond more easily and more powerfully to the float, so relaxation is more immediate and much deeper.

After my first float, I experienced many of the benefits above. But after the second, the sensation was improved and I do think it was because I was more comfortable and knew what to expect.

first float therapy experience

Your first float therapy experience is all about helping you relax and reconnect with yourself. Enjoy your float!

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