Photo: Laura Thatcher via  Twenty20

Photo: Laura Thatcher via Twenty20

On May 9th I strained my lower back. Well, to be honest, I originally strained my back in high school and the injury tends to make itself known at least once a year. 

When I originally started sharing about my most recent strain, people asked things like, "Oh no! Did you hurt yourself?" and "What on earth did you do?"

The answer to those questions is complicated because this particular back issue tends to creep up on me. I'll start to notice a slight twinge and ignore it (which is not smart) and I'll keep treating ergonomics like a suggestion, ramping up my workouts as planned (even though I know I should maintain instead of level-up), and working long days in front of a screen (when I know that craning my neck to work at said screens is part of the problem).

I've tried icing it, I've tried heating pads, I've tried painkillers, I've tried massage, I've tried stretches, but the best remedy is rest—as in, lying flat on my back for hours at a time.

I don't know if you know this, but it's really hard to write for magazines, do podcast interviews, create products, and have a life while lying flat on your back for the majority of the 24 hours we have each day.

Well, that's what's been happening since May 9th. For most of the month, I've been cramming all of my work into a handful of hours each day and then going home to rest. Luckily, my back is slowly starting to feel better. I've been able to attend events, catch up on work, and (thankfully) hit deadlines.

And honestly the turning point was the day after I experienced floating for the first time. When I posted this photo on Instagram about my back issues, the kind folks at Capitol Floats here in Sacramento asked if I wanted to see if an hour in one of their float tanks might help alleviate some of the pain. I had never tried float tanks before, but I was ready to try anything and quickly agreed to schedule my appointment for the following Monday.

Float tanks at Capitol Floats in Sacramento, California.

One thing you need to know about me is that I get claustrophobic very easily. I've even had experiences where a crowded plane makes me sort of freak out. I don't ever like the feeling of being locked into a small or crowded space so I knew I didn't really want to try a float tank that was pod-like. Luckily, Capitol Floats has walk-in tanks. You can leave the door open, there are lights and music in the tanks (that can be turned on and off), and you can always step out into your private float room if you need a break.

Another thing I know to be true about myself is that I get vertigo. Sea sickness is something I've dealt with for years and I'm incredibly dizzy each time I get off a rollercoaster. When you float your body is experiencing virtual weightlessness thanks to the Epsom salt they add and it may take some getting used to if you also tend to get a little woozy like me. 

So what did I think of my first experience?

The Awesome Parts:

  • I didn't feel claustrophobic at all, which felt like a huge win.
  • I can't remember the last time I was quiet and free from outside stimulation (read: distractions) for more than a few minutes and the silence was very welcome.
  • Also in the headspace realm, my thoughts slowed to a crawl. All I was focused on was how my body was feeling. Quieting my Type A brain is something I've never really been able to do so this was a major feat!
  • My body felt like the heaviest blob of jello ever—in a good way. Muscles relaxed and I was able to move my back like I hadn't been able to for a week.
  • My pain was measurably improved the following day—another big win!
  • They have a really awesome quiet/relaxation room so you can get your head straight before you leave (which is neccessary, trust me!). 

The Parts That Will Take Practice:

  • My body felt like the heaviest blob of jello ever—in a "how am I going to pull myself up out of this ten inches of water??" sort of way. My back was still sore and climbing out of the water when everything felt like jello wasn't an easy task. There is a bar on the door to hang onto, but I left the door open a crack and I definitely had to be very careful not to slip as I climbed out of the tank.
  • I did get nauseous about 3/4 of the way through my 60-minute float and I decided to get out. I'm attributing that to my penchant for sea sickness and I truly believe it will just take practice. My body isn't used to feeling weightless and I'm determined to see if I can get beyond that woozy feeling in future floats.
Capitol Floats // Sacramento, California

Yes! I said future floats. While the team at Capitol Floats comped my first float, I signed up for their starter 3-float package to see if I can use my time in these tanks as the positive tool it's meant to be. The benefits far outweighed the potential for feelings of vertigo and, like I said, I'm hoping I can float my way out of that reaction.

Now, if you're in Sacramento and want to try these float tanks, I've got a deal for you!!! If you're a new customer of Capitol Floats, you can enter the code hv-483426 in the Promotional Code box on their online booking page to get $10 off either the 60-Minute Float or the 3 (60-Minute) Float Intro Package! Pretty cool right?

Overall, I'm calling this adventure in self-care a success!

Note: Capitol Floats did comp my first float as a courtesy, but they did not ask me to share my experience. I'm simply sharing because enough people have asked me about it and I want to help those of you who might be in the same boat with pain and/or a very noisy brain!