We all know that exercise and movement are essential ingredients for a healthy life. Physical fitness provides tons of benefits, especially when combined with other habits like eating nourishing foods, getting enough sleep, and taking care of your mental health. The question we want to pick apart today is: Is CBD oil and workout out a great combination?
You might have got wind of athletes and fitness enthusiasts touting the benefits of CBD use — in topical form, tinctures, capsules, gels, etc. — and you wonder whether there is some evidence to back up these ideas.
Let’s dig into what CBD is, why you experience soreness after returning from the gym or finishing that online HIIT class, how CBD fit into your routine, and whether it is right for you.
What is CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid derived from plants, specifically in higher amounts, the hemp plant. One of the most studied compounds found in hemp has quickly gained popularity as an alternative wellness approach. Emerging research supports the idea that CBD interacts with a biological network of cannabinoid receptors called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to help support the body to maintain homeostasis (balance). CBD can be applied topically to the skin or consumed in tinctures and capsules to help support exercise recovery while supporting a calm mind and body.
Why Do We Experience Soreness After Working Out
Almost any kind of exercise will cause soreness–especially if it’s unfamiliar to your body. This is why football players are exhausted after a beginner yoga class, or yoga aficionados are daunted by the prospect of a run. Our bodies acclimate to the type of movements we practice, so mixing up your exercise routine will improve your strength. And if you’d rather stay in your genre–whether it be Crossfit, bouldering, or Zumba–you’ll have to up the ante to experience the same gains.
The process of building muscle requires that the muscle tissue is broken down first. When we push our bodies physically, we cause microtears and trauma to the muscles–and this is a good thing! After a workout, the immune system is activated, and cells mobilize to repair the damage. As the body recovers, the tissues become slightly stronger than they were before. This explains how plank holds can go from impossible to manageable-but-shaky to sweat-free over time with consistent practice.
The “healthy damage” workout and the subsequent “rebuild” through rest are the yin and yang of exercise: both are necessary for optimal health. When balanced, they lead to muscle acquisition, improved heart health, reduced inflammation, increased stamina, more flexibility, and all-around wellness. So it’s vital that you give your body the chance to recover before pushing it again.
Recovery Isn’t Just Rest
Taking a day off from your exercise routine is good, but that’s just a start. Good sleep is an essential component for workout recovery. Sleep allows your body and brain the time to rest, replenish, and repair without attending to the tasks of being awake (even if you’re just on a Netflix binge).
You can also practice active recovery: choosing a low-intensity exercise that activates blood flow and tissue repair without working up a sweat. Try a bike ride, gentle yoga class, or walk through your neighborhood. Choose a way to make your body feel good while moving, rather than challenged.
Lastly, what goes into your body is just as crucial during recovery. Don’t equate rest days with indulgent treats–instead, remember that your body is repairing tissues, and it needs the good stuff to do that! Offer your body nutrient-dense whole-food meals and enjoy snacking on the rainbow of bright colors found in antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies.
So, where does CBD fit in for exercise recovery?
CBD products vary: you can choose to inhale with vapes, ingest capsules or tinctures, or use topical solutions on your skin. Each method will impact how the CBD is absorbed into the bloodstream–this is called its bioavailability–so consider your fitness needs and goals as you choose a product.
CBD Broad-spectrum tinctures, CBD gummies and CBD capsules are great for overall wellness and can be incorporated into your daily routine like vitamins. CBD capsules focused on energy could be beneficial for pre-workout consumption. CBD capsules designed for sleep, easy to take gummies or tinctures may help get the full 8-10 hours of recovery.
And lastly, there is a range of pain-relief topicals (lotions, balms) that may be great for sore muscles. If the topicals are OTC (Over-The-Counter Drug Listed) they will contain drug monographed ingredients such as menthol that will penetrate the skin to support physical issues such as minor aches, pains, bruising, and strains. These OTC topicals may even contain valuable botanicals such as Aloe vera, Shea Butter and broad-spectrum hemp extract providing important omegas and CBD to nourish and moisturize the skin.
How Should I Use CBD For Exercise Recovery
Just like creating sustainable workout habits, you’ll want to develop a CBD routine that you can stick with. You don’t expect to see booty gains after one workout, and likewise, you’ll also need some time to experience the optimal results from your CBD use—for some folks they may see benefits quickly and for some it may take a little longer. So think about which products will fit in with your daily habits. This could mean adding CBD tinctures to pre-workout smoothies or taking some CBD For Sleep Capsules before bed. Choose whatever makes sense for your goals and lifestyle, and make it a consistent part of your wellness routine.
Remember that workouts and wellness are a life-long journey. If you want to be doing these activities for the long-haul, optimizing body and brain maintenance– and recovery–are key.