Does CBD Actually Help With Muscle Recovery After A Workout?

by | Jun 9, 2020 | Supplements

While muscle soreness and fatigue after a workout may be validation that you properly worked your muscles, it’s a sensation that would widely be regarded as unenjoyable. It would be nice to be able to pile on the gains without any of the pain and there may be a way to do just that. A number of famous bodybuilders actively endorse CBD for muscle recovery, including Joey Swoll, Dave Palumbo, and Lee Priest. Are there benefits to using CBD for muscle recovery or is it all marketing hype? This post aims to dive into the existence of scientific evidence (or lack thereof) supporting pain and soreness relief claims for CBD. 

What Causes Muscle Pain & Soreness After A Workout

Before diving into how CBD may be able to help with muscle fatigue, it’s best to understand the underlying causes. The pain or soreness you experience after a workout is also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The effects of delayed onset muscle soreness usually kick in 24 to 48 hours after physical activity: leading to a temporary reduction in strength and range of motion for the affected muscles. 

Many still incorrectly believe the myth that DOMS is caused by a buildup of lactic acid due to the proliferation of the acid after a strenuous workout. However, lactic acid only lasts in your muscles for about one to two hours after physical activity before being broken down by oxygen. Scientists now believe that delayed onset muscle soreness is actually caused by microscopic tears in muscle fibres that break to adapt to new work loads. Tears in muscle fibres increase blood flow and inflammation (sometimes leading to mild swelling), which then stimulates the pain receptors in the muscle tissue. 

CBD For Muscle Soreness & Pain: What Science Says

So, knowing that muscle pain and soreness is the result of inflammation and swelling, can CBD help? There are many different types of CBD products out there and many different reasons individuals use CBD. Pain relief is actually the most popular reason for use, with 40% of regular CBD consumers using CBD for pain relief. Because soreness after a workout is localized to a specific muscle or set of muscles, patches or topicals would likely be the best types of CBD products for relief, but do CBD patches help with muscle fatigue? 

When patches or topicals are applied to the skin, CBD is absorbed into skin and interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the skin. These cannabinoid receptors play a role in a number of different functions, including the regulation of pain and inflammation. Scientists once believed that CBD directly interacted with the cannabinoid receptors in the skin, but it’s now believed that CBD indirectly interacts with the endocannabinoid system to reduce pain and inflammation. 

Scientists theorize that CBD binds to the TRVP-1 G-protein receptors, which also play a role in regulating pain and inflammation in the body. The bind between CBD and the TRVP-1 receptors is thought to be how CBD is able to help with inflammation and pain relief. Several studies have examined CBD as a means for inflammation and pain relief. 

  • A 2011 study concluded that CBD successfully helped to reduce inflammatory pain in rats. 
  • A 2015 review of medical research found that CBD does reduce inflammation through several pathways in the body. 

While research surrounding CBD is still in its infancy, the studies that have been conducted seem to support CBD as a viable supplement to aid in muscle recovery. 

Things To Consider Before Trying CBD For Muscle Recovery

CBD is certainly something to consider if you’re interested in trying to reduce post-workout muscle soreness and pain, especially since recent surveys have found CBD to be well-tolerated in the human body with a very low risk of abuse or dependence. Nevertheless, there are a few things to consider before giving CBD a try. 

First and foremost, if this is your first exposure to CBD it’s best to start small. CBD affects everyone differently and approaching serving sizes conservatively at first is recommended, so that you can safely determine how CBD reacts in your body. You can always ramp up portion sizes after the first couple of uses if you don’t feel the desired effects the first couple of uses. Products will always contain the recommended serving size on the package. 

The other important thing to consider is that CBD, like any other chemical compound, will react with other substances you may be consuming. If you’re currently on any medications, it’s best to consult a doctor before trying CBD so that you can make sure the two substances can play nicely together. 

Not all CBD is created equal. Through the process of phytoremediation, hemp can absorb harmful materials like heavy metals, radioactive elements, and pesticides, which can then end up in CBD oil. When you buy CBD, you’ll want to buy brands that produce CBD products from hemp grown ethically and organically. Product manufacturers typically include third party lab test results on their site. If you can’t find lab results and the company won’t provide them to you, you should buy your CBD elsewhere. As long as you’re purchasing from a reputable company, the CBD products will be perfectly safe to consume.

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