CBD Might Be Your New Best Tool for Workout Recovery
If you’re looking for ways to ease soreness and tension after a hard sweat session, the recent crop of creams and oils derived from hemp plants could be just what you need.
Athletes know it’s not just about the time and energy you put into your workout, but also your recovery plan, that makes you fitter and stronger. If you overwork your muscles and don’t give them enough rest and repair, you can increase your risk of injury while feeling chronically sore.
Including a solid workout recovery routine after each HIIT session or tempo run can keep your muscles and joints pain-free. Consider it a form of self-care, showing your body love for all of its hard work. You’re probably familiar with the way your trusty foam roller can go to work on trigger spots, and you’re likely well-versed in the best post-workout fuel. But what do you know about CBD for workout recovery? This growing therapeutic trend offers many unique recovery benefits, from reducing inflammation to promoting sleep.
How CBD Helps Your Muscles
Whether as an oil, edible, lotion or bath bomb, CBD is popping up everywhere with a promise of repairing sore muscles after a tough sweat session. “CBD can be a useful tool for not only professional athletes but also anyone who is exercising, playing sports, training for a sporting event or otherwise physically exerting themselves,” says June Chin, an osteopathic medicine doctor and the chief medical expert of Yesterday Wellness, a company that sells CBD-based wellness products. CBD reduces the inflammation that causes pain, says Chin, so instead of popping a few ibuprofen, which may irritate your stomach and potentially strain your liver, a supportive dose of CBD can take the edge off of aches from a muscle strain.
CBD, which is short for cannabidoil, is a naturally occurring chemical that is derived from the marijuana or hemp plant. (The plant produces more than 80 chemicals, which can be used for a variety of purposes.) But unlike its trippy cousin, THC, CBD has virtually no mind-altering effects. What it does have, science shows, are properties that prevent the breakdown of another chemical in your brain that is responsible for regulating pain. Lab studies have also found that it works as an anti-inflammatory.
There is no “right time” to use CBD on your sore muscles—you can apply it after a shower or before bed—but you can also keep it stored in your tote or duffel bag so it’s available after finishing your workout. If you’re running errands or heading back to work for a bit, you can still start your workout recovery on the go.
As its popularity has caught on, CBD has been introduced into multiple recovery products and it can be confusing trying to figure out which ones work best for your needs. Follow this guide for the best ways to work CBD into your post-exercise routine.
Functional training comes with its fair share of aches and pains, including nagging cramps caused by muscle spasms. “Topicals can be used pre- and post-workout to decrease muscle spasms,” says Dr. Chin. Apply it directly to the skin surrounding the muscles you’ve just worked out (or the ones you plan to). You might even try a CBD lotion that has other restorative ingredients in it like arnica gel, lemongrass and peppermint—all of which act as natural pain relievers.
Once you’ve rubbed it into your skin, do some gentle stretches or grab a foam roller to hit trigger points that might be causing excess tightness. Stretching, in addition to CBD use, is critical for keeping muscles and joints nimble.
Long Run Bath Bomb
There are two benefits in using a CBD bath bomb—one, the warm water naturally relaxes tight areas of your body after a grueling run or workout, and two, lying prone in the tub lets CBD’s active properties interact with your entire body to loosen up stiff muscles. Take it up a notch by adding magnesium or Epsom salts—magnesium may relieve joint pain while Epsom salts are believed to reduce swelling.
Oils and Edibles for Lunch-Hour Cardio
While oils and edibles are often better for calming jitters and fighting stress (so you might consider them if you happen to get nervous before a big workout or race), you can still use them after exercising as part of a recovery plan. CBD oil helps you feel more relaxed, believes Chin, so if you tend to get really fired up during your lunchtime session, then have to return to work after, CBD oil may help you center yourself again. Edibles, which offer similar relaxation benefits, come in the form of gummy chews, protein bars, cookies, nuts or even chocolate (you can find them at specialty stores or buy online).
CBD for Sleep
If you exercise after work or close to bedtime, look for a CBD cream or oil that has sleep-promoting ingredients like melatonin and lavender to help calm your body, repair muscles and induce drowsiness all at once. (Bonus: Lavender-infused CBD products smell amazing—if you are using an oil, consider putting some drops on your pillow.)
With or without CBD, one of the greatest tools for workout recovery is sleep, so you don’t want to skimp on it. Most muscle repair occurs during sleep, and sleep deprivation will hinder your reflexes and reduce your strength, meaning you’ll run slower and lift less weight when you’re tired. So getting in 7 to 9 hours a night (yes, really) is important for your health and performance.