How does your brain respond to pain?
This TED Ed piece does a nice job of simplifying how the human brain responds to and manages pain. The neurological processes running behind the scenes of pain are massively complex, but understanding the core mechanics often really isn’t.
For float tank centers, pain is a big issue. We see people who’s lives are defined by pain every single day. Back pain, neck pain, neurological pain, existential pain. Dealing with pain of one form or another is a reason a good percentage of our clients come in to float with us. In fact, many of our clients who use floatation therapy to manage their fibromyalgia symptoms – that is, chronic, fully-body pain that never stops – tell us that floating is one of the only ways they have of reducing, or sometimes completely eliminating, their pain.
One of the key systems the human brain has in managing pain – “boosting our coping system” as the TED Ed piece states – is endorphin production. Endorphins are produced in response to injury, to exercise, to sex, and … you guessed it, to floating. Endorphins are the brain’s natural happy-joy-joy chemicals.
Floating increases endorphins. As well as serotonin and dopamine. (That, by the way, is primarily what anti-depression drugs, or SSRIs, are doing). If that weren’t enough, it simultaneously decreases the brain’s stress indicators: cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrin.
So if you’re struggling with chronic – or even mild – pain, and nothing else has been working well for you, give floatation therapy a try. Worst case scenario: it’s one of the most relaxing things you’ll ever do. Best care scenario: complete cessation of pain. What is there to lose?
See our section on Floating And The Brain for more information on how floatation therapy affects our neurology.