Recovery following intense training bouts is crucial for both professional and recreational athletes. It is well understood that exercise-induced muscle damage is due to unaccustomed repetitive movements and/or strenuous eccentric contractions. This kind of external load induces muscle damage that is associated with delayed onset muscle soreness.
Exercise-induced muscle damage is often associated with temporary substantial drops in performance, local muscle soreness and enhanced risk for musculoskeletal injuries. In professional sports, athletes have to recover within a few days to regain their performance levels.
Grounding, earthing, or grounded sleeping, is the process in which the athlete becomes grounded via an electrically conducted device. The person is grounded in an indirect way that corresponds to being barefoot with direct, continuous contact with the earth. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to be earthed, due to urbanization, insulating footwear or bituminization. There are various grounding systems available that permit contact with the surface of the Earth. This indirect way of earthing or grounding is based on trivial conductive systems like 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 satiated with free electrons. This indirect or direct contact with the Earth enables “mobile” electrons to migrate into the body.Suggests that these free electrons act as antioxidants in the organism and could neutralize 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, originally known as free-radical theory of aging, and in the 1970s was extended to the mitochondrial theory of aging. Over the past several years, an emerging body of evidence is starting to indicate that ROS are associated with tumorigenesis, cancer and chronic inflammatory systemic diseases while the theory of mobile electrons could also prevent or diminish this inflammation and illnesses.
Twenty-two healthy participants were recruited for a study and 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 downhill treadmill running intervention led to distinct changes in all measured parameters related to fatigue. These changes were detectable already 5-min post intervention and were not fully recovered 10 days post intervention. GRD led to less pronounced decrease in performance and less increase with respect to CK compared with UGD . Detailed blood samples demonstrated that grounded sleeping modulates the recovery process by keeping a constant hemoconcentration, as represented by the number of erythrocytes, and the hemoglobin/hematocrit values; and by the reduction of muscle damage-associated inflammation markers.
The downhill running protocol is a feasible methodology to produce long term muscle soreness and muscular fatigue. GRD was shown to result in faster recovery and/or less pronounced markers of muscle damage and inflammation. GRD might be seen as a simple methodology to enhance acute and long-term recovery after intensive eccentric exercises.
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.