Sean Richardson/University of British Columbia

The examination of the effectiveness of flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation technique (REST) as a performance enhancement tool in sport has produced positive results. However, previous studies using flotation REST to enhance gross motor performance combined the technique with imaginal practice, confounding the effect that REST-only might have on performance. Although more recent studies have examined the effects of flotation REST-only on athletic performance, they have only looked at fine motor activity.

This study tested the effects of flotation REST-only on rowing ergometer performance, a gross motor activity. Furthermore, this study attempted to ascertain, through carefully constructed questionnaires, the reasons why athletes might or might not benefit from including a period of flotation REST in their training regime. Subjects (n=40) were a group of male and female, novice and varsity university rowers. Subjects were matched based on previous ergometer competition scores and then randomly assigned to either a flotation REST condition or chamber/relaxation control condition.

All groups were exposed to two administrations of either one of the conditions and were pre- and post-tested on a 1000 meter rowing ergometer trial; difference scores were compared. The study also coincided with intra-team ergometer competitions, allowing the experimenter to compare scores form a source external to the study. The results are discussed in terms of which sports might benefit form flotation REST and under what conditions it may best be applied.