Mixed martial arts fighter Shane Young recently claimed the Xtreme Fight Championship featherweight title, bringing it back to New Zealand for the first time since Matt Te Paa in 2006 – and he credits some of his success to his ’floatation’ sessions at Auckland’s new Float Culture facility.
Known as floating, float therapy or sensory deprivation, floatation involves floating in an Epsom salt water solution (at body temperature) within a specially designed pod-like tank for an hour or longer. The result is a liberating weightlessness and deep mental relaxation, free of sensory interruptions like sound, light and smell.
“I first heard about floatation from a Joe Rogan podcast, and the idea intrigued me. It seemed like a cool thing to do, especially for the physical benefits like rehabilitationand the ability it gives you to focus. I had tried meditation before without success,” says the new champion, who spent several sessions in the tank prior to his title fight.
Having previously lost to his opponent, Adrian Rodriguez, in a split decision earlier this year, Shane believes his problem then, was mental. “I wasn’t in the right head space.”
His research revealed that floatation is widely used by professional athletes and others for rehabilitation, relaxation and visualisation, including the Australian Institute of Sport and Aussie Olympic team, the Dallas Cowboys and the likes of Carl Lewis and Peter Reid.
The Sports Injury Clinic (sportsinjuryclinic.net) reports that the gravity free salt solution takes the weight off the spinal column and improves blood flow for higher levels of rest and recuperation.
“Relaxed muscles are likely to heal faster than tired, tight and knotted muscles. The athlete emerges from the floatation pod alert but in a state of deep relaxation. The effects can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days,” the report said.
Shane admits that at first he found the thought a bit scary.
“I was a bit nervous because you go into this pod, in complete darkness and you just float there – you can’t sink. But I found that here was just this warmth and this blackness, and I loved it. It was very meditative and the rehabilitation was phenomenal – every time I trained after a float I smashed my personal bests,” says Shane, who credits the floatation experience most with getting him into the right head space.
He trained hard prior to the fight because he had to lose a lot of weight, which meant high cardio and less food, so there was a lot of lactic acid build-up and fatigue.
“My endurance went through the roof, my cardio was better and my body felt good.
“Most of all, I could visualise and really focus on my game plan and my self belief. The biggest thing was that I made peace with myself by coming to the realisation that if I lost, I would still be who I am – it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” says Shane, who went on to knock out his opponent with a big left head-kick three minutes into the third round.
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