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Floating to relieve stress-related pain

Summary of Research Paper

‘Treating stress-related pain with the flotation restricted environmental stimulation technique: Are there differences between women and men?’ 

Sven Å Bood PhD, Anette Kjellgren PhD, Torsten Norlander PhD Prof (2009)

Key Take Aways

  • Both sexes were recommended REST treatment to treat chronic, stress-induced pain (muscle tension)

  • Positive effects were the same for both males and females

  • Deep relaxation and reduction of stress hormones seemed to be contributors in the reduction of stress-related pain, with the releasing of endogenous endorphins (beta-endorphins)

  • Improved the participants pain tolerance/threshold


  • 69 women, 19 men from 3 different studies

  • 32 had also received a diagnosis of depression, including symptoms such as fatigue, diminished energy, loss of self-esteem, problems with organizing daily life, problems with memory and processing new information, problems with sleep, poor restoration by rest, and feelings of low mood

  • Floated 12 times over 7 weeks

Set up

  • Participants had been diagnosed by a physician as having chronic stress-related muscle tension pain

  • Participants were treated with flotation-REST during 2-3 week periods consisting of two 45 min float sessions per week for 3 weeks

  • Several measurements (degree of depression, anxiety, sleep quality and pain), as well as assessments of participants’ sensory DTs and PE (using the electronic device Pain Matcher) were performed before and after the treatment period


  • Analysis indicated it had beneficial effects on stress, anxiety, depression, sleep quality, and pain and that there were few differences between men and women

  • Women were more depressed than men before treatment, but after treatment there was no difference between the sexes

  • There was a difference between the men and women in the ability to endure experimentally induced pain, suggesting that men exhibited greater endurance both before and after the flotation-REST treatment.

  • Results also showed that both men and women improved their ability to endure experimentally induced pain (higher scores for upper pain threshold) following a float treatment

Download the full paper below

2009 Bood - flotation stress-related pain men vs women
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