CBD Benefits For Recovery, Muscle Soreness, Inflammation, Sleep And Relaxation
We’ve already covered how CBD is amazing for athletes. From powerlifters to endurance athletes to those in explosive sports, it seems like the plant compound has a performance-enhancing benefit or two for everybody.
But have you ever stopped to think about why? If not, you might find this article especially interesting.
Another question: did you know that the health and strength improvements that come from exercise don’t happen during workouts…but between them? It’s true, and goes back to a concept called general adaptation syndrome.
General Adaptation Syndrome: the three-stage process that describes the physiological changes the body goes through when under stress, coined by Hans Selye.
Basically, your adaptation to stress determines your recovery time.
With faster adaptation comes the ability to train harder and more frequently — without risking things, like nervous system fatigue or adrenal burnout, that could hinder athletic recovery. Guess what? According to this recent 2018 study, CBD is an adaptogen.
Is CBD good for recovery?
In a word, yes! To expound on that, CBD is more than good; it’s excellent for recovery.
Among other things, CBD may reduce stress hormones, protect against muscle and joint breakdown, bolster the nervous system, and reduce muscle soreness. We’ll take a closer look at some of these concepts below.
CBD: A Powerful Post-Workout that You Can and Should Use
It’s well known that the post-workout period is especially critical to one’s recovery times. Raising insulin (an anabolic nutrient-shuttling hormone) and lowering cortisol (a fight-or-flight hormone)
In other words, the post-workout period is when your body will use any energy you give it most effectively.
CBD doesn’t affect insulin on its own, but it may increase insulin sensitivity. That means your PWO meal will go to all the right places — hopefully, straight into muscle cells!
CBD has amazing effects on cortisol, too. It doesn’t just lower cortisol, it actually “interferes with cortisol secretion”, according to this landmark study from 1993. After an exhausting workout, that’s exactly what you want.
Escape DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) with CBD
DOMS…it’s that strangely delayed effect that shows up long after hard training.
What exactly causes DOMS is still unknown. A 2018 study put it this way: “many hypotheses have been developed to explain [DOMS]… the primary mechanism is currently considered to be the ultrastructural damage […] which leads to further protein degradation.”
Thankfully, anecdotal evidence indicates that CBD might be just the solution for relieving DOMS. According to MD and dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, “it would be great for sore muscles, because it has an analgesic effect which decreases pain.” Perfect!
How to Use CBD to Relieve Cramping
If CBD is so helpful in relieving sore muscles, could it also be used to prevent cramps? Maybe. Don’t forget that CBD helps control the intracellular flow of calcium, a major electrolyte that can affect whether or not your muscles cramp.
While hydration and proper training intensity are most important when it comes to avoiding painful cramps, athletes now have another tool to add to their arsenal.
Can CBD oil help with muscle knots?
Muscle knots are formed when inflamed tissue forms micro-adhesions with itself in an attempt to recover quickly. Things like myofascial release (just picture you and a foam roller) can help one recover from muscle knotting…but could there be a better way?
Yes — CBD could prevent muscle knots from occurring in the first place. While this concept is still firmly in the theory stage, it’s plausible nonetheless.
CBD’s favorite cellular target, the CB2 receptor, has been found active within connective tissues and fascia networks. And that means any inflammation or restriction in these areas might be noticed and improved upon by CBD.
Muscle Pain, Meet CBD Cream.
When it comes to getting CBD to your muscles fast, there’s no better tool than CBD-infused cream. Topical CBD application has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and relax motor neurons.
Topical CBD has practical benefits, too: it can double as a massage oil. Both CBD and physical manipulation (ie, massage) have been shown to improve circulation, so it’s highly possible that CBD-inspired bodywork ‘opens up’ one’s body to access the best properties of CBD.
CBD Oil Before or After a Workout? That is The Question.
CBD has a multifaceted impact on athletic recovery. We’d already dived into how helpful the molecule is for post-workout recovery…but the truth is that its pre-workout effects are just as impressive.
The biggest one? CBD shifts the metabolism towards fat burning. That means an athlete’s limited carbohydrate stores can be saved for the most important parts of any given workout. Tap into fat-burning mode, and you’ll find yourself with more energy in reserves.
Fat is generally a cleaner-burning fuel than carbs, too. It generates fewer free radicals and less lactic acid. All good things for indirectly improving athletic recovery!
Maximize Hypertrophy the Natural Way with CBD
CBD’s impact on hypertrophy (muscle growth) is also indirect — but for some athletes it might still be very noticeable.
A 2018 Review of over a hundred studies showed that CBD really can reduce inflammation and pain. These factors are normally some of the biggest barriers to muscle; get them out of the way, and muscle cells are free to thrive!
Recover Fast with CBD Oil
So, how should an athlete take their CBD? That’s up to you!
CBD oil might be one of the best ways. Taken consistently CBD oil is great for rebalancing the endocannabinoid system, which in turn reduces inflammation and stress. CBD oil also absorbs into the system slowly to provide lasting effects. That could be ideal for endurance athletes.
CBD Edibles for Athletes
On the other hand, many athletes have higher caloric demands than the average person. So why not accomplish two things at once, and get your CBD via a health-oriented edible?
Thankfully, more and more such products exist on the market. We’d encourage you to find one that contains full spectrum hemp extract and healthy, omega-rich fats.
As an athlete, your body deserves only the best. The best training, the best equipment; the best food, and the best supplements. CBD is quickly becoming part of a new normal for athletes looking to recover their best.
It might just help you walk that fine line of pushing yourself to the absolute max — while still recovering well.
Aidan Lehane is an entrepreneur who has a lifelong passion for CBD, Hemp and allowing people to find an effective natural remedy to many of their pains and illnesses.
Aidan has been a constant advocate for cbd and hemp legalization for over 2 decades and is often found researching & creating blogs and videos about CBD, on the Great Hemp Youtube channel while testing and reviewing countless products for quality and effectiveness.