The Earthing Institute - Reconnecting People To The Planet

Exercise, Yoga, and Inflammation

inflammationThe Earth itself, and perhaps like nothing else on Earth, powerfully reduces inflammation and pain, and accelerates healing after injury or surgery.

It’s a simple, yet profound connection. Just make direct contact with your planet and let it heal you…while you sleep, work, relax, and even exercise.

Can anything be simpler?

Over the years, the sports and exercise model has provided a solid proving ground for Earthing’s anti-inflammatory effect. The most dramatic example was when sports chiropractor Jeff Spencer grounded cyclists after grueling competition in several Tour de France races. You can read about Jeff’s experience and see a short video clip here.

More evidence has come from several exercise-related experiments.

In 2010, Richard Brown of the University of Oregon’s Human Physiology Department showed how Earthing significantly reduces the degree and duration of soreness and inflammation after intense exercise with barbells that created muscle damage.  Such damage is a common exercise and fitness phenomenon, known popularly as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.  The results of the study were published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

In 2013, a group of Polish researchers measured blood urea, an indicator of muscle and protein breakdown, from samples taken before and after rigorous exercise on a stationary bicycle.  The results revealed that grounding compared to non-grounding during the activity (30 minutes) and recovery (40 minutes) significantly lowered urea levels. The takeaway here: muscles are protected and damaged to the extent that occurs normally during hard exercise. Breakdown is less; the body is able to repair better. The results were published in the online journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Reduced Blood Viscosity

More recently, Dr. Brown chose a yoga experiment to explore the anti-inflammatory effect of Earthing. As popularly practiced these days, yoga has become an intense activity in which DOMS may occur after sessions, just like other forms of exercise.

Dr. Brown enrolled twenty-eight beginning yoga students for his experiment. They were randomly divided to be grounded or fake-grounded during a mild hour-long session that included ten yoga poses repeated five times. Blood was drawn before and after the session for laboratory analysis of viscosity, that is, blood thickness.

It is known that exercise increases muscle damage, produces inflammation in the body, and rapidly increases blood viscosity, an expression of inflammation. This is a short-term effect.

The hypothesis being tested was that while a mild yoga routine may not produce much muscle damage it would still produce an exercise-related inflammatory response affecting blood viscosity.  Could Earthing blunt this effect?  A prior study, but not exercise-related, demonstrated a significantly improved blood thinning (viscosity reducing) effect of Earthing among generally healthy subjects. You can see a video clip of this effect under a microscope here.

Inflammation generates tissue damaging free radicals, very reactive molecules that are electronegative (attracting electrons) molecules. It was expected that the negative charge on the surface of red blood cells would weaken during and after exercise, as a result of loss of electrons to increased free radical activity. This effect was expected to generate more viscous blood than normal because the lower the negative charge on red blood cells, the greater their tendency to clump and the more viscous the blood becomes.

Blood viscosity influences the ability of blood to flow through the arteries, veins, and capillaries of the circulatory system, and is considered a major indicator of blood vessel health as well as a predictor of a number of chronic diseases.  The more viscous (thicker) the blood, the greater the degree of inflammation in the body.

The blood analysis after the single yoga session showed that the students who were grounded had a significant reduction in post-exercise blood viscosity. The individuals who were fake-grounded had a slight increase in viscosity.  There was a clear difference between the two groups.

The study provided yet another indicator – blood viscosity − of how Earthing curbs inflammation. Dr. Brown believes that electrons from grounding scavenged free radicals, thus blunting exercise-induced inflammation, as seen by decreased blood viscosity among the grounded participants.

The yoga study was published online in 2015 in the Open Journal of Preventive Medicine. You can read the full study here. For information about the Earthing yoga/fitness mat used in the study, go here.

Less Muscle Damage

Earthing research clearly indicates that common exercise-induced muscle damage – a trigger of inflammation − is significantly decreased by grounding.  Creatine kinase (CK) enzyme leakage from damaged muscle has been repeatedly used as a marker of muscular damage.  Along with the 2013 Polish study mentioned earlier, a second DOMS study by Dr. Brown published in 2015 revealed significantly less CK presence when participants were grounded for several hours after a single exercise of half-knee bends.  You can read the second DOMS study here.

The ongoing research is slowly connecting the dots. Although we still have much to learn about the nitty-gritty, the end result is clear – less inflammation and less pain – and with implications far beyond the world of exercise and sports.   Inflammation and accompanying pain are involved with many serious chronic diseases as well as with common injuries and surgery.

For prevention and recovery in all these areas, Earthing has much to offer.

In 2015, the Journal of Inflammation Research published a paper reviewing various hypotheses related to the effects of Earthing on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.