How Can Sensory Deprivation Tanks Be Used in Recovery Protocols for Mixed Martial Artists?

With the evolution of sports and exercise physiology, we are continuously discovering new and potent ways to enhance our performance. One such cutting-edge technology that has successfully made its mark among athletes is the sensory deprivation tank, also known as the float tank. This innovative tool has found a sweet spot in the recovery protocols of many sports, including Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

Proficient MMA fighters like Joe Rogan have openly discussed on his podcast the benefits of floatation therapy, piquing the interest of many in the sports arena. So, let’s delve deeper into understanding how sensory deprivation tanks can be successfully incorporated into the recovery protocols of mixed martial artists and understand the science that drives this revolutionary tool.

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Float Therapy: Unveiling the Mechanics

Before we dive into the efficacy of float tanks in the world of MMA, it’s crucial to understand what exactly they entail. A sensory deprivation tank is a lightless, soundproof tank filled with saltwater at skin temperature. When you lie inside this tank, it creates the illusion of floating in the middle of nowhere, thereby depriving your senses – a unique feeling of relaxation that’s hard to replicate.

Float therapy is based on the principle of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (REST). REST minimises sensory input to the brain, which in turn, helps to induce a deep state of relaxation. This reduction in sensory stimuli gives your brain the much-needed break, allowing it to reorganize and recharge itself better.

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Impact on Stress and Recovery

Stress and recovery are two paramount aspects that determine the performance of an MMA fighter. High-intensity training sessions can induce physical stress, taxing the body’s recovery system.

Float tanks are known to induce deep relaxation, alleviating the levels of stress hormones like cortisol in the body. Their ability to assist in stress management makes them a handy tool for any MMA fighter. The time spent in the float tank allows the body to shift from its regular fight-or-flight state to a more relaxed state, aiding in recovery.

Moreover, the high concentration of Epsom salts in the float tank facilitates muscular relaxation and alleviates muscle soreness. The high magnesium content in the salts helps in the reduction of inflammation and enhances muscle and nerve function, paving the way for faster recovery.

Enhancing Willpower and Mental Strength

Another central domain where floatation therapy is showing promising results is improving willpower and mental strength. Mixed martial arts require a balanced combination of physical prowess and mental resilience.

Inside the float tank, with minimal external distractions, the individual’s focus shifts inwards. This environment is conducive to practicing mindfulness and meditation, both of which can significantly enhance mental strength. Moreover, the improved mental clarity post-float can boost problem-solving capabilities and creative thought processes, leading to better strategizing for fights.

Boosting Athletic Performance

The physical recovery and mental strength provided by float therapy could potentially translate into improved athletic performance. MMA fighters need to maintain their peak physical form to endure the intense training sessions and to perform optimally during the fights.

Being in a float tank can stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, which can help manage pain and discomfort from intense workouts or injuries. This, coupled with the reduction in muscle tension and improved blood circulation, allows the athletes to maintain their training intensity and compete at their highest potential.

The Rogan Endorsement

Joe Rogan, an MMA commentator and host of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, swears by the float tank for his recovery. Besides the physical benefits, Rogan emphasizes how float tanks have improved his creativity, problem-solving skills, and overall mental health.

Rogan’s endorsement of the float tank is a testament to the potential benefits it can provide to MMA fighters. His experience highlights the potential for float tanks to become a staple in recovery protocols for athletes, contributing to their overall performance and well-being.

While the research is still ongoing, the anecdotal evidence provided by high-profile athletes like Rogan is encouraging. Float tanks could indeed be a game-changer in the world of athlete recovery and performance enhancement.

Effects on Heart Rate and Blood Flow

Float tanks can have a significant impact on an MMA fighter’s heart rate and blood flow, both of which are crucial to their performance and recovery. Inside the float tank, the body enters a state of relaxation, often referred to as the parasympathetic state. In this state, the heart rate slows down, and blood flow increases to the muscles and the brain.

The heart, being one of the most vital organs in the human body, plays a significant role in the physical performance of an athlete. A lower resting heart rate usually indicates a healthier cardiovascular system and a higher level of cardiovascular fitness. Regular use of a float tank can help MMA fighters decrease their heart rate, improving their cardiovascular health and endurance.

Increased blood flow is another notable benefit of floatation therapy. The relaxation state in the tank enhances blood circulation, ensuring that nutrients and oxygen are efficiently transported throughout the body. This improved blood flow can aid in the recovery process by helping to repair damaged muscles and tissues faster.

Furthermore, the enhanced blood flow to the prefrontal cortex of the brain can improve mental performance. This could provide an edge to the MMA fighters by sharpening their decision-making skills and reaction times, both of which are paramount in high-stakes fights.

Incorporating Float Tanks to Optimize Diet and Training

The numerous benefits of float tanks can be amplified when combined with a well-structured diet plan and workout routine. MMA fighters can incorporate float therapy into their recovery protocols to optimize the results from their diet and training.

A typical Rogan diet focuses on high-quality protein and vegetables, which aids in muscle recovery and maintaining optimal body weight. Coupling this diet with regular sessions in the float tank can effectively enhance recovery, reduce muscle soreness and improve overall performance.

High-intensity strength training is a staple in the workout routine of most MMA fighters. These workouts can tax the nervous system, leading to a heightened stress response. Float tanks can help manage this by promoting relaxation and aiding in the recovery of the nervous system.

Long-term use of float tanks can potentially help MMA fighters achieve a balance between their fight-flight response and relaxation, improving their overall mental health. In the fast-paced world of martial arts, this balance is crucial, as it allows the athletes to switch on their competitive mode when required and switch off to recuperate effectively.


The unique benefits of float tanks have placed them at the forefront of recovery protocols for MMA fighters. The ability to reduce stress and enhance both physical and mental performance makes them a valuable tool for these athletes.

Endorsements from high-profile personalities like Joe Rogan have increased the public interest in this technology, and the potential benefits it can provide to not just athletes, but to anyone seeking to improve their mental and physical health.

While more research is needed to fully understand the potential of float tanks, the existing evidence is promising. As we continue to explore the effects of sensory deprivation on the human body and mind, it’s clear that float tanks could potentially revolutionize the way athletes recover from their training and enhance their performance. As it stands, it appears that float tanks are here to stay in the world of athletic recovery protocols.