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Earthing for Athletes: Enhancing Acute and Long-Term Recovery

Recovery following intense training bouts is crucial for both professional and recreational athletes. Muscle damage due to unaccustomed repetitive movements and/or strenuous eccentric contractions can lead to decreased performance, local muscle soreness, and an increased risk of musculoskeletal injuries. In professional sports, athletes have to recover within a few days to regain their performance levels. One way to aid muscle recovery is through a practice called Earthing, also known as Grounding or Grounded Sleeping.

What is Earthing and how can it help with my muscle recovery? 

Earthing is the process of becoming grounded through a conducting device, allowing electrons to flow out of the body and reducing levels of inflammation accumulated in the body. In the past, this was done through direct contact with the earth, such as walking barefoot on the beach. However, due to urbanization and insulating footwear, it is now almost impossible to be earthed. There are various grounding systems available that permit contact with the surface of the Earth, such as sheets, mats, or pads. These devices get coupled to the Earth by a typical cord slotted into a grounded wall outlet.

The main hypothesis about Earthing is based on the connection to the surface of the Earth, which is saturated with free electrons. This indirect or direct contact with the Earth enables “mobile” electrons to migrate into the body. Studies suggest that these free electrons act as antioxidants in the organism, neutralizing reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are byproducts of mitochondrial metabolism of oxygen and delivered by the oxidative burst as part of the inflammation response. These reactive chemical species are linked to the aging process and chronic inflammatory systemic diseases.

Muscle recovery study

To test the effects of Earthing on muscle recovery, a study was conducted on 22 healthy participants. The participants were randomly assigned to an experimental group (GRD, grounded sleeping, n = 12) or control group (UGD, sham-grounded sleeping, n = 10) to evaluate the effects of 10 days recovery with GRD vs. UGD following a single intensive downhill treadmill intervention in a triple-blinded manner.

The results of the study showed that the GRD group had a less pronounced decrease in performance and less increase in muscle damage markers compared to the UGD group. Blood samples also demonstrated that grounded sleeping modulates the recovery process by keeping a constant hemoconcentration and reducing muscle damage-associated inflammation markers.

Earthing recovery chart

Click here to see the full study

Earthing outperforms icing (according to Dr Jeff Spencer)

Earthing offers healing benefits above and beyond the results typically seen with icing. Regardless of the extent of the injury, pain reduction is significant with Earthing compared to ice; frequently, 40 or 50 percent less. I have never experienced that kind of healing with icing. Icing has, in fact, fallen into some disfavor. Earthing is the perfect replacement, Nature’s remarkable healing tool.

I tell my clients and patients that Earthing serves as a background, a foundation, for stabilizing and enhancing the physiology so that body’s internal mechanisms work together to create a high level of repair and healing, whether from surgery, exhaustion, or from daily life in general. Earthing promotes better sleep and all the things associated with faster recovery from day to day activity. People have more energy, less pain, better function, and require less sleep. All these are indications that the body is repairing itself and functioning more efficiently.

From my experience, whether you are sick or injured, the more consistently you ground yourself and the more time you spend grounded, the greater your body’s ability to heal, repair, and regenerate, and operate optimally.

For athletes, there is clearly a positive effect on biology, leading to heightened recovery from day-to-day activity that facilitates competing at a higher level. Recovery is everything. Competition and training tear the body down. Without adequate recovery, the body will eventually break down or the person sets himself or herself up for injury. If you can sleep less and respond better, and train harder, which is what we see from Earthing, than the assumption can be made that you are affecting the recovery mechanism and repairing the body better and faster.

These kinds of observations are why I tell my athletes to get grounded and get better!

Dr Jeff Specer - winner of the 2004 International Chiropractic Association’s “Sports Chiropractor of the Year” award and Discovery channel cycling team leader.

Watch the cycling team champions testimonial on earthing recovery

Conclusion

Earthing or Grounding can be an effective method for enhancing acute and long-term recovery after intensive eccentric exercises, and can be a simple methodology to aid muscle recovery and reduce inflammation, risk of injury and prevent chronic illnesses. To get started with Earthing, you can start with earthing sheets or grounding mats for bed that can be plugged into a grounded wall outlet and help your recovery every night. If you are looking for an effective method to aid muscle recovery, Earthing is worth considering

Earthing Collection