Whether you’re an advanced athlete, a weightlifter, or just a casual jogger, you’ve no doubt experienced muscle soreness at some point. While painkillers can help, they’re not without negative side effects.
Have you thought about using CBD for muscle recovery?
A primer on CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main compounds present in the cannabis sativa plant. It’s a safe, non-addictive substance and its therapeutic benefits have been confirmed by scientists around the world.
Unlike THC (the other well-known cannabinoid), CBD does not make you feel high or intoxicated. This is because CBD and THC have different effects on the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain and body.
Our endocannabinoid system (called the ECS) plays an important role in regulating many of the processes that keep the body functioning every day: blood pressure, mood, energy production, immune function, glucose metabolism, appetite, pain management, and more.
CBD comprises more than a hundred phytocannabinoids, which are similar to the cannabinoids our own bodies produce. CBD works by mimicking and augmenting these cannabinoids, which more or less ‘tricks’ the body into providing relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, stress, and other complications.
Why the body gets sore after a workout
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) usually occurs a day or so after a workout. It can affect anyone and any fitness level. It’s common to experience DOMS after beginning a new exercise program or increasing the intensity of your normal workout.
Microscopic damage to your muscle fibers can occur when you push your muscles harder or use them in a different way. This damage leads to inflammation—and as a result, pain, stiffness, and general discomfort.
And no, DOMS isn’t caused by a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. In fact, lactic acid isn’t even involved.
CBD and muscle recovery: what you need to know
Although research on CBD is somewhat limited to date, several studies have demonstrated its anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and neuroprotective properties.
A 2018 review of 132 original studies published in Frontiers in Neurology showed that high-quality CBD is effective in reducing inflammation in the body. There is also evidence that indicates cannabis can help reduce muscle spasticity and pain. Further anecdotal reports indicate that cannabis (in this case, medical marijuana) helps ease pain and improve mobility. This suggests that CBD may also help with muscle recovery and pain. It may also reduce inflammation when applied topically to sore muscles or when taken orally.
By interacting with your own endocannabinoid system, CBD can help your body function more efficiently. CBD restores the important compounds required by your ECS to reduce inflammation and support proper muscle contraction and release. It also helps with coordination and relief from spasms that can cause tightness and pain.
Intense exercise causes the body to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol is catabolic, which means that it inhibits protein synthesis. When you’re producing high amounts of cortisol, like after a long workout, cortisol makes it difficult for your body to develop new muscle. You may even end up storing fat instead.
CBD helps to keep hormones like cortisol in check. This allows for proper protein synthesis and healthy muscle regeneration following your workouts. CBD also helps support healthy sleep patterns, which is a vital part of muscle recovery. It’s while you’re asleep that the body can repair and restore your muscles.
The best way to use CBD for recovery
Many people are now turning to CBD to manage muscle soreness as part of their post-recovery routine. There are numerous anecdotal reports of its benefits in reducing pain and inflammation after an intense workout session.
There’s even anecdotal evidence that suggests CBD can do more than relieve muscle soreness—it may help prevent it, too! Some people have found that using CBD before working out helps boost their performance and focus.
If you’re new to CBD, it’s important to figure out the right dose for you. Everyone is different, which means everyone processes CBD differently. Figuring out your own dose for CBD recovery comes down to trial and error.
Although there is no ‘standard’ dose, some professionals recommend taking 1–6 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight, depending on how sore you are. Alternatively, try starting with 5–10mg per day and slowly build up until you hit your ‘sweet spot’ of pain relief.
Best CBD products for muscle recovery
There’s a huge range of CBD products available in many different forms. How you take your CBD really comes down to personal preference.
Oral CBD includes oils, tinctures, sprays, and edibles. These are great for easy dosing and fast relief. Using CBD oil for muscle recovery is common as it’s easy to add to a post-workout protein shake.
Topical CBD products like balms, ointments, and creams are great for managing localized pain and inflammation because they can be applied directly to the area in need.
Smoked or vaped CBD products are also effective, but (like any inhaled product) may impact the lungs and respiratory system, which is less desirable for athletes.
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