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What is Flotation Repatterning?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2016
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Flotation repatterning is a bodywork technique performed in warm water with the assistance of two massage therapists. Like other forms of bodywork performed in water, flotation repatterning is designed to promote freedom of movement for the body by relieving pressure on the joints, allowing the client to engage in deep stretches and extensions which would not be possible on dry land. Flotation repatterning is offered at some spas and resorts, and by private therapists who have access to a pool for aquatic massage therapy.

The roots of flotation repatterning lie in craniosacral therapy, a form of bodywork in which the neck and spine are manipulated gently to promote better posture and alignment. By working with the joints, muscles, and fascia in this region, practitioners believe that they can also release blocked energy, reducing physical and psychological stress and giving clients healthier, more active bodies.

In a flotation repatterning session, all participants wear bathing suits, and the therapists work gently with the client's body. The warmed water is supposed to encourage the client to relax while the therapists work from either end of the body, supporting the client as they work so that he or she can relax fully into the treatment. The team moves through a series of stretches, and the soft tissue of the body is manipulated to release tension and stress in the muscles.

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One of the goals of flotation repatterning is to release perceived blockages of energy, which can include sources of emotional stress. It is not uncommon for clients to feel intense emotions during the session as a result, especially since the session encourages a trusting bond between client and therapists as he or she floats under their care. Flotation repatterning is also supposed to re-teach the body, promoting a better posture and long-term spinal and skeletal health. Increasing flexibility and eliminating pain are also viewed as potential goals of this style of bodywork.

Because flotation repatterning is very gentle, it is suitable for people at a wide range of levels of physical ability, from young children to elderly adults. It can also be integrated into a physical therapy recovery program for someone with physical or emotional trauma. Flotation repatterning can help to strengthen atrophied limbs, increase range of movement for stroke victims, and gently stretch burn scars and other damaged tissues to increase freedom of movement.

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