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CBD For Muscle Recovery: Does it Help?

Whether you’ve just completed an intense strength training session or you’re in the first few weeks of your ‘couch to 5K’ program, you’ll know what it’s like to experience muscle soreness as a result of a good workout. You may have even wondered about using CBD oil for muscle recovery.

The Importance of Muscle Recovery

Researchers consider post-exercise recovery to be a vital part of any exercise plan 1 The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery Dalleck, Lance C. The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery. Ace Scientific Advisory Panel. https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/SAP-Reports/Post-Exercise_Recovery_SAP_Reports.pdf Dalleck, Lance C . Failure to properly rest and recover muscles can result in something called overtraining syndrome (OTS). This is a stress-related condition, sometimes diagnosed by a reduced pituitary-adrenal response in standardized exercise tests. Symptoms can include fatigue, depression, bradycardia, and loss of motivation 2 Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide Kreher, J. B., & Schwartz, J. B. (2012). Overtraining syndrome: a practical guide. Sports health, 4(2), 128–138. https://doi.org/10.1177/1941738111434406 Kreher, J. B., & Schwartz, J. B. .

OTS isn’t the only risk you take by failing to allow muscles to recover properly. Exercise contributes to skeletal muscle damage, a reduction in the concentration of important muscular substrates like phosphocreatine (PCr) and glycogen. It also contributes toward the accumulation of metabolic byproducts such as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Disallowing for proper muscle recovery can result in injury, reduced performance, and lack of energy 1 The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery Dalleck, Lance C. The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery. Ace Scientific Advisory Panel. https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/SAP-Reports/Post-Exercise_Recovery_SAP_Reports.pdf Dalleck, Lance C .

Muscle recovery typically occurs within 48 hours of exercising (and can be complete within just a few hours of lower-impact activities). Recovery can be aided by things like cold water immersion, ischemic preconditioning, stretching, massage, and compression garments 1 The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery Dalleck, Lance C. The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery. Ace Scientific Advisory Panel. https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/SAP-Reports/Post-Exercise_Recovery_SAP_Reports.pdf Dalleck, Lance C .

Could adding a CBD dose for muscle recovery also help do the trick?

CBD for Muscle Recovery - What Does the Research Say?

Thus far, there is no research specifically looking into the potential benefits of CBD for muscle recovery. However, there is some research that suggests CBD might help speed the process along.

For instance, CBD is a known anti-inflammatory 3 Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. Future medicinal chemistry, 1(7), 1333–1349. https://doi.org/10.4155/fmc.09.93 Nagarkatti, P., Pandey, R., Rieder, S. A., Hegde, V. L., & Nagarkatti, M . Exercise causes a known inflammatory response in the muscles 1 The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery Dalleck, Lance C. The Science of Post-Exercise Recovery. Ace Scientific Advisory Panel. https://acewebcontent.azureedge.net/SAP-Reports/Post-Exercise_Recovery_SAP_Reports.pdf Dalleck, Lance C . Could CBD help mitigate that response and therefore ease the recovery process? It’s definitely possible.

CBD has also been found to improve mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) 4 Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis Rudroff, T., & Sosnoff, J. (2018). Cannabidiol to Improve Mobility in People with Multiple Sclerosis. Frontiers in neurology, 9, 183. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2018.00183 Rudroff, T., & Sosnoff, J. . This is significant because MS is marked by muscle spasticity, fatigue, and inflammation. Improving mobility for these patients suggests CBD could also play an important role in muscle recovery for those who have participated in intense exercise routines.

Further research has touted the benefits of transdermal CBD applications. By applying CBD topically, inflammation and pain behaviors decreased for rats struggling with arthritis 5 Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818 Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N . If combining CBD and muscle recovery could achieve the same benefits, it’s possible that recovery time could be reduced simply by applying a little CBD to the impacted areas.

What we know so far suggests a need for further research into the area of CBD for muscle recovery. Until that research is completed, we can’t definitively say CBD will aid in recovery after exercising. Still, we can say that what we do know about CBD suggests it could be beneficial.

With CBD having such a high safety profile, particularly with transdermal applications, there isn’t much to keep you from adding CBD to your recovery regimen and seeing if you notice a difference in recovery time 6 An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. (2017). An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 2(1), 139–154. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0034 Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. .

Ready to use CBD for Muscle Recovery?

While you can always take CBD oil for muscle recovery (and there are certainly plenty of other benefits of doing so), you may find you prefer using a CBD cream or lotion that can be massaged directly into your impacted muscles. With research linking topical applications to the reduction of inflammation and pain, this simple application method may provide exactly the results you’re looking for 5 Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818 Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N .

There are countless topical CBD options to choose from, and most will provide instructions on how much you should use and how often you should apply. Use gentle application techniques and pay attention to how your body feels after using CBD for muscle recovery after your exercise routine.

Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts have even made CBD protein powder a regular part of their pre and post-workout regiments!

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