Feature Image by The Lodge at Vail

If you haven’t already, add sensory deprivation tanks to your list of “wellness trends to try.” Known to relieve muscle soreness and enhance your workouts, it’s basically an Epsom salt bath on steroids.

Below, Sunny Koch, spa director at The Lodge at Vail, breaks down everything you need to know about this unique treatment.

What is it?
Sensory deprivation tanks (aka float tanks or isolation tanks) are 60 to 90-minute sessions where you float in a pod filled with water and Epsom salt. “Athletes incorporate [sensory deprivation tanks] into their recovery routines, as they have been known to stimulate a number of crucial processes, such as relieving muscle soreness, decreasing anxiety, and [enhancing] workout routines,” says Koch.

What are the benefits?
“While the use of Epsom salt initiates effortless floating, the properties of Epsom salt also result in a number of mental and physical recovery processes,” notes Koch. “Studies have shown that the simulation of floating decreases stress and anxiety, relieves the sympathetic nervous system by allowing our fight-or-flight mode to rest, and reduces pressure between joints.”

What can you expect from your first session?
“Depending on [your] own sensitivity to being in small spaces, some first-timers might feel overwhelmed by the possibility of feeling claustrophobic,” explains Koch. However, most float tanks include a button you can press if you need any assistance and are easy to open and close. Koch advises, “The best way to show up for a session is not being under the influence of alcohol or caffeine. Caffeine may make [you] a bit jittery, and alcohol may initiative a feeling of seasickness.

How should you prepare for your first session?
“A great way to prepare is by looking at images of the tank you’ll be using online,” says Koch. “Additionally, don’t dye your hair or get artificial tans within two weeks of a session, do not shave at least 10 hours prior in order to minimize itching, eat lightly as to not feel disturbed by fullness, avoid smoking, and drink water,” she adds.

Are all float tanks the same?
“While some spas or treatment centers offer a variety of sensory deprivation systems, most are set up as float rooms or float tanks. The best way to decide which system is best for you is by looking at pictures of each and considering how your body reacts to similar situations and processes spacial awareness,” recommends Koch.

How can you get the most out of a session?
“Enter the tank with a relaxed body and an open mind,” suggests Koch. “Whether it’s by meditating prior to a session or by entering the tank in the early morning while the mind is still at ease, it’s best to begin each session feeling calm and collected. These float tank sessions are essentially a chance to recover the body while releasing stress by eliminating all outside forces including the sense of gravity. While it requires effort to truly release the mind and calm the body, those who are able to enter the tank with no judgments or expectations will better take in all the benefits these sensory deprivation tanks have to offer.”

xx, The FabFitFun Team

P.S. If you’re looking for the ultimate getaway, plan your stay at The Lodge at Vail and try one of the float tanks for yourself.