Recovery

Recovery Week: Earthing Products

Several months ago, Mike Potenza wrote a great article for HockeySC.com titled “What’s New in Regeneration Training?”

In the article, Mike outlined several interesting pieces of technology that can be used to facilitate or monitor recovery, one of which included “Earthing” products. Earthing, or “grounding”, is one of those naturalistic concepts that I think a lot of people will write off despite it being fairly intuitive. Quite simply, the earth has an electrical charge that has restorative properties when we come in contact with it. Thanks to rubber-soled shoes (think insulation), houses, cars, etc., in general, we spend drastically less time in direct contact with the Earth than our barefoot walking, hole in the ground sleeping predecessors. Other than certain house pets, we’re the only species on the planet that is removed from exposure to the Earth’s electrical charge.

Think of how you felt the last time you walked through grass barefoot, dug your feet into the sand at the beach, or went for a quick dip in the ocean. In almost every case, you’d experience an increase in energy and sense of well-being. Naturally, being outside also means being exposed to the sun, which has its own benefits, but the feeling you get in these circumstances isn’t entirely from sunlight or from the fresh air. When we come in contact with the Earth, we are influenced by its abundance of free electrons (negatively charged ions) such that our bodies shift toward reaching an electrical equilibrium with the Earth, similar to how water might empty one tube and fill up another until they reached an equal height if a bridge was made between the two. In Earthing by Clint Ober, Dr. Stephen Sinatra MD, and Martin Zucker, the authors write “…the biological clock of the body needs to be continually calibrated by the pulse of the Earth that governs the circadian rhythms of all life on the planet.” This statement, as I’ll discuss shortly, is supported by some pretty fascinating research.

Some of the reported benefits of Earthing include:

  1. Decreased inflammation
  2. Reduced chronic pain
  3. Improved sleep quality
  4. Increased energy
  5. Lower stress and improved calmness
  6. Normalized biological rhythm
  7. Thins blood and improves blood pressure
  8. Relieves muscle tension and headaches
  9. Lessens hormonal and menstrual symptoms
  10. Speeds healing
  11. Reduces jet lag
  12. Protects the body against environmental electromagnetic fields
  13. Accelerates recovery

A quick scan of that list reveals that Earthing could have a positive impact on our health and performance through a variety of mechanisms. One of the first studies conducted on Earthing products involved tracking 60 people (38 women, 22 men) who had some form of sleeping problem. After 30 days of sleeping on an grounded bed pads, they found that:

  1. 85% went to sleep more quickly
  2. 93% reported sleeping better
  3. 82% experienced a significant reduction in muscle stiffness
  4. 74% experienced elimination or significant reduction of chronic back and joint pain
  5. 100% reported feeling more rested the next morning

Another study had 12 individuals with sleep problems, pain, and stress (as a brief aside, this essentially describes the overwhelming majority of the US population!) sleep on Earthing pads for 8 weeks. Their individual daily cortisol (commonly referred to as the “stress hormone”) levels were assessed at 4-hour intervals for 24 hours at the beginning of the study and again 6 weeks later. Cortisol is supposed to peak around 8am, decline until about noon, remain at a slightly elevated rate until around 4, and then tail off, reaching it’s lowest point around midnight. This natural fluctuation can be used as a marker of circadian rhythm. At the beginning of the study, there were HUGE amounts of variability among the individuals, with several having ridiculously high peaks at 8am, or random peaks in the middle of the night. Interestingly, even after this relatively brief exposure, all of the individuals’ 24-hour cortisol profiles aligned to converge toward what could be considered optimal, such that the variability between the individuals was essentially negligible. No more random spikes during the night or excessive spikes in the morning. 8 of the participants also had an increase in melatonin, another important hormone that helps regulate sleep and the circadian rhythm.

Most of us are familiar with the importance of eating foods rich in “antioxidants” to combat the free radicals throughout the body. Free radicals, in essence, are simply positively charged ions scavenging for a negatively charged ion to latch too. Earthing provides the body with the extra electrons to serve this very function. Also, studies using infrared imaging to assess tissue temperature have found that Earthing causes a significant reduction in “hot” areas thought to be associated with inflammation.

Having studied neuroscience in grad school, thinking of the human body as an electrical network isn’t that big of a stretch. After all, the nervous system communicates via electrical impulses and even things such as simple as an unspoken thought can be mapped by viewing the neurons that fire to produce it. What many people are unaware of (which can be tested by simply walking around with a voltmeter) is how significant of an influence living in an electronic world has on our bodies. We are CONSTANTLY being exposed to electromagnetic fields from wires in the wall, TVs, iphones, microwaves, etc. The neat thing about Earthing products is that in addition to providing all of the aforementioned benefits, it also shields us from these other electrical influences, which, as you can imagine, can have a disturbing effect on the electrical state and processes within our body.

For more information, check out Earthing.com

At this point, you might be wondering how the Earth’s natural electrical field has been turned into a product series. Basically, you can buy a mat (which you can put under your desk to rest your feet on and/or in front of your keyboard to rest your forearms on) a half-sheet to put on your bed, full sheets, sleeping bags, and mattresses that are lined with wires which can relay the electrical charge from a wire plugged into the ground (the circular hole beneath the two vertical plugs) of an electrical outlet. Of course, you could run a rod out your window and stick it directly in the Earth, but this isn’t as practical for most people.

On a personal note, I dropped $200 on the “Earthing Starter Kit” which included a mat and a half-sheet about 4 months ago and have been using it consistently since then. I noticed an immediate difference in how quickly I fell asleep and how I felt the next morning. After several months, I can say definitively that I sleep considerably better, I recover faster from stressors of all forms, and I’m more even-keeled in general. In fact, I had one day that felt out of the ordinary a couple months back; I was sorer than usual from training, didn’t have much energy, etc. I realized that night that I had forgotten to plug in the half-sheet I sleep with the night before and I discovered the next morning that the mat under my desk was unplugged as well. Honestly, I would have never guessed it would have that kind of impact, but it clearly did (and does).

Earthing has a significant impact on inflammation, neutralizes free radicals, shields from electromagnetic fields, and regulates our biological rhythms. All of these things allow athletes (and people in general) to handle stressors more effectively and ultimately to adapt and perform better. To me, Earthing products are one of the most affordable, practical, effective and underutilized recovery tools available today. I can say, without hesitation, that it was some of the best $200 I’ve ever spent!

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. If you want to maximize the transfer of your off-ice training to on-ice performance, you’ll want to follow a specific hockey training system designed to do just that.


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21 Responses to “Recovery Week: Earthing Products”

  1. Conor:

    Hey Kevin,

    I just ordered a half sheet last week having read the book a few weeks ago. I was surprised to not heard of it on any of the blogs I follow till now. Glad you approve of it, I was slightly worried as it was only the book which had promoted it.

    Cheers,

    C

  2. Chris Matsui:

    Hey Kevin,

    Really interesting stuff, I’ve never heard about “Earthing” until now. I’m definitely going to be looking into this.

    Thanks for posting it!

  3. Something New – ‘Earthing’ A New Recovering Technique : The Ultimate Hockey Source – UHS:

    […] There is more benefits from Earthing so read the article by Kevin Neeld and find out the ‘How and the Why; Earthing can be the one of the best injury recovery methods out there for the major athlete or even the ‘weekend’ jock. 'Earthing' New Technology […]

  4. Claus Birger Henriksen:

    Greetings from Denmark.
    Just want you to know, that as danish distributors for more than a year, http://barfodet.dk, our experience confirm the claims in the book.
    I am sure that you will find these videos on Youtube very interesting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W-rQghhOPE.
    Stay earthed.

    Claus B Henriksen
    Denmark

  5. Kevin Neeld:

    Conor-I suspect you’ll start hearing others talk more about it in the future. Let me know what you think after you have some experience with it.

  6. Kevin Neeld:

    Chris-It’s amazing how much the solution to our current health problems continues to come back to naturalistic approaches. It’s fairly intuitive that spending time outside is beneficial; this is just one more mechanism why. Let me know what your experience is like if you buy one of the products.

  7. Kevin Neeld:

    Claus-Thanks for sharing your experience and the video. Great stuff!

  8. Something New – ‘Earthing’ A New Recovering Technique - GET REAL HOCKEYGET REAL HOCKEY:

    […] There is more benefits from Earthing so read the article by Kevin Neeld and find out the ‘How and the Why; Earthing can be the one of the best injury recovery methods out there for the major athlete or even the ‘weekend’ jock. ‘Earthing’ New Technology […]

  9. Martin Zucker:

    Kevin
    Your good article just came to my attention. And yes, you are right on the mark. This is something so natural and so spectacular for athletes (and not just athletes, of course). Earthing POWERFULLY reduces inflammation, which means that here is a simple remedy for the extraordinarily intense pummeling that athletes put their bodies through, and which obviously creates a massive amount of inflammation. Based on our observations for more than 10 years, athletes get a huge benefit from Earthing. One former NFL linebacker told me it like bypassing the misery and pain of the day after a game. I recommend that your readers check out the Earthing book, and specifically the sports chapter that we wrote. We have a detailed account of how Tour de France cyclists benefited, and additional details from a sports medicine chiropractor who specializes in enhancing peak performance for elite athletes.
    Also suggest you check out a study that we did on DOMS (delayed-onset-muscle-soreness) that provides a quick read on how Earthing can be of benefit for athletes. The study can be found at http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/acm.2009.0399And there, of course, a great sleeping benefit as well, as you yourself have discovered. And there is so much more to say about the systemic benefits of Earthing on the body…check out our Earthing reports at http://www.earthinginstitute.net
    Send me an email, Kevin, and perhaps we can continue this conversation. Happy to share information about Earthing with you.
    Best wishes…and Happy Thanksgiving
    Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book

  10. Martin Zucker:

    Kevin
    There is a typo in my message above….the link to the DOMS study is:
    http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/acm.2009.0399

  11. Matthew Danziger:

    Kevin, I always enjoy reading what’s on your mind so thanks for sharing.

    I’m doing my very best to keep an open mind, but I have to wonder about the strength of the studies cited. In taking a quick look around for these studies I notice that most if not all are in Alternative/Complimentary Medicine journals, which are notoriously not tightly monitored. The studies also tend to have fairly small sample sizes, and do not introduce blinding of any sort or sham/placebos.

    This of course doesn’t prove or disprove anything, but I for one would like to see stronger research on this stuff before dropping a couple of hundred dollars myself.

    Thanks for getting my gears turning, and keep up all the great work.

  12. Kevin Neeld:

    Matthew, Agreed all-around. As you can imagine, a topic of this nature won’t be rapidly accepted by most people, ESPECIALLY the selection/editing committees of the more prestigious journals. The limitations you noted above are noteworthy AND have also been described by the Clint Ober, the “founder” of Earthing. I think it’s irresponsible to completely ignore anecdotal evidence and chalk it all up to the placebo effect. Reading that Earthing has helped people was enough for me to want to try it. It helped me; and a few others that I’ve introduced it to have reported the same. The only claim I’ll make is that it’s worth trying and reading more into.

  13. Kevin Neeld:

    Martin-Thanks for commenting and sharing some additional resources. I look forward to reading through some of the research on your site in the near future. I’ll reach out via email shortly.

  14. Martin Zucker:

    Matthew
    Keep an open mind. This is something very special. Many of the studies did indeed incorporate the blinding/sham process. Please look at them more closely, particularly the most recent. The studies have indeed been small. They were designed as proof of concept trials for an absolutely new concept within budgetary restraints. Obviously, it would be wonderful to have huge clinical trials. They are awesomely expensive. As far as being published in alternative journals, the researchers repeatedly tried to get some of these studies into mainstream journals. That’s a big challenge, but not because of the size of the studies, but their content. You may (or perhaps may not) be surprised how hard it is for a new, way-out-of-the-box concept to breech big journal barriers and biases. Mainstream journals typically tend to cater to their medical device/pharmaceutical advertisers. This barrier often shuts out papers with new ideas and/or alternative modalities except perhaps when the results of alternative studies have a negative conclusion. As someone who has been writing about health for 35 or so years, I have found this to be a sorry state of affairs that effectively chokes off access to new ideas in a field that sorely needs them. Revenue flow trumps science. Earthing is a simple, natural, and profound concept. I am reminded daily by feedback just how powerful and promising this is. It’s there, right under our feet. Always has been, and always will be. The science for this is clearly in the beginning stage. There is so much to learn and prove about how the Earth’s gentle electric energy can reset and restore the body’s self-healing mechanisms for the benefit of people everywhere. This is a huge discovery, or re-discovery of something eternal. It just needs time and cultivating to become more widely accepted. All new concepts do.
    Best wishes
    Martin Zucker, co-author of the Earthing book

  15. Jim Pickford:

    Kevin
    Great post
    Why settle for a mat when you can utilize the same energy in products you can use away from sitting at a desk. I 100% agree with connecting to the earth but I have found products that impact air, water, sleep and nutrition.
    I would love to connect to chat further and share ideas and experiences regarding both products

  16. Kevin Neeld:

    Jim-I’m always up for learning more about this stuff. Shoot me an email through the contact form on this site.

  17. ‘Earthing’ A New Recovery Technique | Ultimate Hockey Source:

    […] ‘Earthing’ New Technology […]

  18. 3 Powerful Recovery Strategies for Athletes | Kevin Neeld Hockey Training and Athletic Development:

    […] falling asleep, I’d look into picking up an Earthing Sheet (Read more about this here: Recovery Week: Earthing Products) and/or a magnesium supplement like Poliquin’s Uber Mag Px or TopicalMag, both of which are […]

  19. » Tues 1/14 CrossFit Addiction Kennesaw:

    […] trouble falling asleep, I’d look into picking up an Earthing Sheet (Read more about this here: Recovery Week: Earthing Products) and/or a magnesium supplement like Poliquin’s Uber Max Px or TopicalMag, both of which are great […]

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