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Ohio State football players dive into sensory deprivation tanks

Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are the latest elite athletes to use sensory deprivation tanks to aid in recovery.

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In order to perform at the most optimal levels, the human body requires rest after an intense workout. This rest allows the muscles to undergo hypertrophy, which is essentially the act of muscles strengthening from becoming more used to exerting force or taking pressure. With the right dietary lifestyle, consistent workout regiments have proven to be good for a person’s physique.

But with today’s technology, there are many ways to enhance this system of recovery. With sensory-deprivation flotation tanks, athletes are able to effortlessly float in a semi-submerged egg-shaped pod that reduces pain, muscle tension, blood pressure and inflammation. Users are able to float because the tanks use a solution of 35% epsom salt that increases water density.

“When I first got into flotation therapy, I tried it three times in a week, and it was so beneficial that I had another two sessions leading into the 2008 European Cup at Annecy, France. It was there I jumped a personal best of 6.81m and qualified for the Beijing Olympics,” Jade Johnson, a British long jumper, told “I have always used physiotherapy and massage to help injury recovery, but flotation is different. When I float, I can really feel a lot of pressure being taken off my back, and when I compete, I feel calm, and my mind and body feel in balance. I think everyone should at least have one float in their lives, or they just don’t know what they are missing!”

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Users float in the tank face-up in a relaxed position, with their face above the water and ears submerged. This technology has been so widely recognized that the Ohio State football team has started using it to benefit their entire program.

“We knew this was something the Buckeyes would be very, very interested in, in terms of helping us prepare and recover for that next training session, for that next practice or for that next game,” assistant strength and conditioning coordinator Phil Matusz told the Columbus Dispatch. After their national championship in 2014, the program started using a data-gathering sensor system that helped the strength and conditioning staff learn what stresses the players experience in daily workouts. After realizing the therapeutical benefits of sensor deprivation, OSU’s program has implemented flotation therapy into most athletes’ recovery plan.

“For me, it’s more of a relaxing type of feeling, being able to let my muscles rejuvenate,” quarterback J.T. Barrett told the Dispatch. “The first time you use it, it takes time to learn how to float properly and relax your mind as well as your body, but once you do, you feel the benefits of it later.”

Even celebrities and superstar athletes take advantage of this breakthrough solution to rest. Some athletes, like defensive end J.J Watt, cherish it so much they even have it in their own homes. With the likes of Tom BradyCarl Lewis, and Stephen Curry finding pain relief, relaxation, creativity and clarity in a float tank, many aspiring athletes will likely follow their footsteps and gain the psychological benefits that will help them perform at their best.