We’ve both been around elite athletics and the science of training and rehabilitation for years. Rarely does an idea come to our attention that is completely new. Earthing is such an idea.
Earthing also called grounding, is sleeping with a blanket that is electrically grounded. The idea being that an exchange of electrons occurs between you and the earth. Users cite our evolutionary heritage where we slept in contact with the Earth for over 95% of our species evolution. Wever, 1970 at the Max Planck Institute recorded that exposing men to different electric fields affected their circadian rhythms. It has been documented by Jeff Spencer, Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine and the medical specialist of the US Tour de France team, that once Earthing blankets were used during competition, not only was sleep improved but tendonitis was reduced and wound healing improved during the race.
This anecdotal evidence was enough to get me to look at what literature was available. Brown, et al 2010 looked at how earthing blankets affected muscle soreness. The authors were clever in that they blinded the study to the subjects- this is relatively unusual in these types of studies because blinding is generally not possible. He had 8 men 20-23 years old with healthy BMI train eccentric heel raises with 33% of bodyweight. 4 subjects slept with grounded blankets and 4 slept with grounded blankets that had wires that did not conduct.
Blood samples, saliva, MRI imaging and pain protocols were all measured. This was repeated 3 times a day for 4 days. Results were quite interesting. 5 of the 6 white blood cells groups dropped by greater than 10%! Blood glucose dropped by 15% and bilirubin decreased by more than 25%! Creatine Kinase dropped by over 86%, aspartate transaminase increased by 17% and saliva cortisol increased by 13%. Blood tests for trace minerals also showed an increase, generally above 10%. Finally, soreness decreased by over 80% post workout. Overall, 30 of the 48 markers measured demonstrated greater than 10% change. If nothing else, this raises some interesting questions.
Cheavlier, et al 2013 found that when 10 subjects wear a grounding patch on their legs for 2 horus a day they lowered overall blood viscosity by a factor of 2.7. This is not huge but again raises increasing questions. Several other studies have shown cortisol (by saliva and blood) drops significantly within a few days of beginning earthing.
We are not completely sold nor are we indicating that people should buy these but this is an interesting approach to recovery and seems to have sufficient evidence to bear investigation. It should be noted that if it does thin blood, anyone taking blood thinners should present evidence to their doctor before beginning an earthing protocol.