Hydrogen Water Bathing for Soft Tissue Recovery
New Clinical Evidence with Drink HRW Technology
I’ve long been a proponent of hydrogen water bathing for soft tissue recovery and injuries, despite limited evidence. Up until recently, there were only a couple of studies on the subject. Topical hydrogen was shown to aid in soft tissue injuries by increasing blood plasma flow in a 2014 study, and bathing in hydrogen water was effective for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Neither of these studies have been replicated, and as such the conclusions were limited to the relatively small sample sizes.
The reason I have been a strong proponent for years is that I have seen it work on myself and others. The first time I attempted hydrogen water bathing was after a nasty grade 2 calf tear while playing soccer. I couldn’t walk, and because of my shoulder injury, crutches were excruciating. I submerged my leg, up to the knee, in hydrogen water with what must have been an incredibly high concentration. The water was as white as when it’s made to drink, or more so, and relative to the volume of water I was using, I was adding many times more tablets. What happened was rather remarkable. The swelling subsided, almost to the point of no swelling at all, yet the muscle was still torn, i.e. the pain and swelling were down, but I still had no function. I returned to activity much sooner than anticipated, although not in a magical or unheard-of timeline.
I again dabbled with this approach after a nasty fall while skiing. Long story short, I tumbled 400 yards down a double black, hitting a small tree along the way. Fortunately, I walked away relatively unscathed, other than a potentially fractured forearm. Basically, my arm was swollen, and I could not close my hand. Foolishly not wanting to inconvenience myself with the long wait times in ER, I opted to soak in hydrogen water for the first few days to determine the extent of the injury. Again, after several days, the swelling completely subsided and all that was left was acute pain and bruising at the injury site. The arm was weaker than normal, but I could close my fist and bear weight. What was truly remarkable for me was that the rest of my body, which at first rightfully felt like I’d been run over by a train, was back to normal after the second hydrogen water bath. For a visual on my tumble, see below:
Anecdotes continued to pour in, with friends who are competitive athletes seeing dramatic results in their healing after injuries. Additionally, my significant other developed shin splints while training for the Boston Marathon. In fact, they were so painful I had to carry her from a train station to my car, as she could barely walk after stopping a long run midway through it. On the 11th day after I had to carry her, after daily hydrogen water bathing, she ran 34 km pain free. Three weeks later she competed and finished the Boston Marathon in a respectable time during the worst conditions in 50 years (2018), which saw a record number of competitors dropping out and not finishing. During the race, there were at times 100 km head winds, compounding the torrential downpour of freezing rain. The storms knocked out power in much of Massachusetts, and the 8 km I clocked running to watch her at various spots of the race to cheer, led to perhaps the coldest and wettest I have ever been, so I cannot imagine what the racers went through. Recovery time for shin splints is typically anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks before exercise can resume, so while 11 days is not miraculous, it is the fastest recovery that could be expected.
These anecdotes are what convinced me to pursue producing the bath tablets, H2 Relief and Vivid H2, products that were developed before there were customers for them. In fact, I went one step further and contacted researchers to explore the effects of the tablets before anything was launched. The anecdotal evidence was promising, but real evidence was needed. Finally, we are able to announce results of the trials, a case study regarding a grade 2 ankle tear in a professional soccer player and a full randomized controlled trial comparing hydrogen water baths with the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compress and elevate), on professional soccer players who have suffered a grade 2 ankle tear. The case study finished about a year ago and was just published following peer review on F1000 research. It noted considerable swelling reductions in just 24 hours.
The full clinical trial also saw great benefits and was just published as a presentation for the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine with results equivalent to the RICE protocol after 24 hours. What is important to note is that the RICE protocol is fantastic for immediate swelling reduction, which hydrogen water was shown to be slightly better at. The criticism of the RICE protocol is that the ice component of the therapy decreases blood plasma flow, and as such, slows down healing time. It becomes a trade-off where comfort and pain reduction are pursued at the expense of recovery. Bathing in hydrogen water, in this pilot study, appeared to be the equivalent to the RICE protocol in the RICE protocol’s strengths, namely swelling reduction. The published literature suggests that topical hydrogen therapy will INCREASE blood plasma flow, meaning it should speed up healing, rather than decrease it. This is a very important consideration. If the results are replicated, it could lead to a mass use of topical hydrogen water as a standard therapy for soft tissue injuries, as the current standard protocol is in fact the RICE protocol. (full presentation below)
This is just the exciting start to the research we are pursuing on the subject. Currently, we are discussing with teams about two other trials, based on what we know so far and what we have heard anecdotally. One study will focus on hydrogen water bathing for DOMS, while the other will be a longer extension of the hydrogen water vs RICE protocol study, evaluating healing post-injury for a longer duration. There are several other subjects which we have also approached teams with and are excited to be moving forward on this new delivery method of hydrogen therapy.
For the time being, any of the readers not following us on Instagram, check us out @drinkhrw. Over the last year, we have been increasingly working with many pro athletes, most notably mixed martial artists. Interestingly, while the vast majority thoroughly enjoy both the hydrogen tablets meant to be drunk and the hydrogen bath tablets, we have seen a more prominent response from them regarding the hydrogen bath tablets, H2 Relief. Not many are more banged up, bruised, and beat up than fighters, so it is no surprise that they are the ones we see the strongest response from.
As a reminder, H2 Relief, like Rejuvenation, comes with a first time purchase money back guarantee if for any reason you are not satisfied. I swear by them, as do countless others. If you haven’t tried them yet I highly encourage you to do so next time you’re particularly sore or beat up from a work out (or otherwise).