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Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain.Kjellgren A, Sundequist U, Norlander T, Archer T.

Department of Psychology, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden.

The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether the floating form of the restricted environmental stimulation technique (REST) may be applied within the field of pain relief. Flotation-REST consists of a procedure whereby an individual is immersed in a tank filled with water of an extremely high salt concentration. Thirty-seven patients (14 men and 23 women) suffering from chronic pain consisting of aching muscles in the neck and back area participated in the study. They were randomly assigned to either a control group (17 participants) or an experimental group (20 participants). The experimental group received nine opportunities to use the flotation-REST technique in the water tank over a three-week period. The results indicated that the most severe perceived pain intensity was significantly reduced, whereas low perceived pain intensity was not influenced by the floating technique. Further, the results indicated that circulating levels of the noradrenaline metabolite 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethyleneglycol were reduced significantly in the experimental group but not in the control group following treatment, whereas endorphin levels were not affected by flotation. Flotation-REST treatment also elevated the participants' optimism and reduced the degree of anxiety or depression; at nighttime, patients who underwent flotation fell asleep more easily. The present findings describe possible changes, for the better, in patients presenting with chronic pain complaints.


Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST) as a stress-management tool: A meta-analysis; Dierendonck, Dirk van; Nijenhuis - Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
In this study we investigated the value of flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy
(REST) as a stress-management tool. We focused on the physiological effects of REST, its influence
on well-being, and on performance. Twenty-seven studies published in 25 articles or book chapters
were included in a meta-analysis. The total number of participants was 449, with a mean age of
29 years (ranging between 20 and 45). Sixty-four percent was male and 36% was female. The
results showed that REST has positive effects on physiology (e.g., lower levels of cortisol, lower
blood pressure), well-being, and performance. The pre–post mean effect size and the overall
randomized control group effect size were relatively strong. This suggests that despite some limitations
of the original studies, flotation REST can be a useful stress management tool in addition to or instead
of other stress management tools.


Hormonal Changes associated with Restricted Environmentally Stimuli Therapy (REST); Fine, T. H. and Turner, J. W.; Medical College of Ohio

Cortisol (plasma and urinary) and ACTH levels significantly decreased in participants undergoing REST.  A separate trial that utilized Naloxone (opioid inhibitor) suggests that the mild euphoria commonly experienced during REST is a result of endogenous opioids. These two findings correlate with decreased activity of the pituitary-adrenal axis.