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Can floating aid stress recovery to aid spec ops airmen?

Airforce times published a compelling article by Charlsy Panzino detailing the Air Force Research Lab’s efforts to develop new techniques that could help special operations troops train and recover better and, ultimately, become better war fighters.

U.S Army Studies and uses Float Therapy.
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The 7l1th Human Performance Wing’s Airman Systems Directorate is stepping into an area of science to find ways to improve not only Airmen’s physical training and performance, but also how they recover.

After watching members of special operations train during a site visit, Dr. Josh Hagen, 711th HPW Airman Systems Signature Tracking for Optimized Nutrition and Training team lead, began to wonder what their recovery practices were from their intense training routine and what was being used to help them feel physically better afterwards.

By measuring resting heart rate variability in the morning, they can definitively tell how stressed or recovered they are from the previous day. If stress is adding up, Hagen and his team can quantitate that so if they see their number is a certain way in the morning, there are things they can do to change those numbers so the operators can be in the best state to perform.

“It is always a game of staying balanced,” Hagen said. “You can be overly sympathetic where you are still in fight or flight stress mode and you have not recovered, or you can be highly parasympathetic, which means your recovery system has not kicked in.”

Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulating Therapy (REST), is one next-generation recovery method that Hagen and his team have found both sympathetic and parasympathetic modification where other recovery methods typically help only one. The Flotation-REST therapy is a sensory deprivation tank containing 900 pounds of Epsom salt in body temperature water, which gives the feeling of weightlessness. The flotation therapy users float 45 to 60 minutes once a week putting them directly back in sympathetic/parasympathetic balance.

While researching the benefits of using Flotation-REST, the team discovered that along with physical recovery, athletes’ coping skills to stress related to academics and athletics such as academics and athletics improved.

Read the full article here.

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