CBD for Athletes: Muscle Recovery & Pain Relief

Written By: Sam Milam

Many athletes swear by the effects of CBD to help them recover more quickly from muscle soreness and pain. Although research is limited at this time, CBD has shown promising results with issues that many athletes are experiencing like inflammation, joint pain, and muscle soreness. You don’t have to be a football player or cross country runner to be considered an athlete. Cyclists, acrobats, runners, swimmers, and or just your regular stroll-around-the-block exercisers could find CBD a useful self-care practice to keep your body feeling good. Let’s take a look at the potential uses and benefits of CBD for muscle recovery, CBD for athletes, CBD for muscle pain, and how athletes can best utilize nature’s medicine to improve their performance and quality of life. 

Can CBD Really Help Athletes Recover Quicker

Regardless of what type of sport you do, there is often a healthy dose of soreness that is involved. Some are higher impact than others, but each still targets specific muscle groups and body movements that you will definitely feel later on. There are plenty of natural ways to treat muscle soreness and aid in a quicker recovery, and we can definitely touch on those, but the most pressing question here is if CBD can work that magic as well. 

When deciding if you’ll use CBD for muscle recovery and pain relief, it is worth it to first look at your options of using only CBD or utilizing the whole plant for its health benefits.


CBD Versus The Whole Plant

CBD and THC are a power couple when it comes to cannabis compounds. The “war on drugs” has worked very hard to make THC out to be the bad guy, but in reality, THC and CBD work together synergistically, enhancing the effects of each other. If you are trying to determine whether you want to gain the health benefits of CBD or utilize the whole shebang, there are some questions you might ask yourself to help make the decision easier.

- Is your job dependent on passing a drug test? If so, then THC could cause some problems.

- Are you comfortable with the high that comes with consuming THC? If so, then it might be worth experimenting with the effects on muscle soreness and recovery by finding a 1 to 1 type of product (equal parts CBD and THC or higher levels CBD with a little THC).

- Do you need to be of clear mind and alert throughout the day while also working on muscle recovery? CBD products, whether it is a full spectrum tincture, isolate, vaping, smoking, or topical, might be the best option so that you are still able to operate at peak performance without head and body high side effects.

    Research suggests that CBD has a good safety profile, especially compared to other drugs used for similar issues. Research still needs to be done to see how CBD interacts with other drugs, but for now, that’s a great start to what people have been saying about CBD for quite some time. A review of 132 studies occurred in 2018 showing that high-quality CBD can help reduce inflammation and pain, as well as improve mobility for patients who are suffering from multiple sclerosis.

    In addition to THC and CBD, cannabis contains hundreds of compounds that include aromatic terpenes, flavonoids, and many other minor cannabinoids, all with their own specific healing characteristics. The FDA doesn’t approve plants as medicine. They are more of a single compound entity that can benefit Big Pharma. But scientists have referred to this holistic and therapeutic impact of the whole plant as an entourage effect, where the whole plant is greater than the sum of its single parts.


    What Are Some Common CBD Uses For Athletes

    Should you be using CBD pre or post-workout? That answer is really up to you and what you are hoping to achieve. There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence that CBD can be a great addition pre-workout, helping boost performance naturally, and possibly improving concentration. Dosing is important, higher doses don’t necessarily mean higher efficacy. 

    Post-workout CBD is a great anti-inflammatory that helps a lot with muscle recovery. But this isn’t the only way that CBD helps an athlete or even the average person who is feeling sore and tired from sitting at a desk all day. Cannabidiol is a helpful sleep aid for many. Using CBD for sleep is one way to encourage muscle recovery because sleep is the optimal time that the body does its healing work. If you are tossing and turning all night because of sore muscles, then you are most likely experiencing interrupted sleep, which is then resulting in less than optimal muscle recovery. If CBD can alleviate that struggle while also promoting a stronger body, then we are here for it.

    Some common CBD uses for athletes are:

    - Topical use. CBD oil can be found in so many different delivery methods. Topical use could be in the form of creams, lotions, salves, and ointments. These are applied externally to areas where pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, and tired muscles are felt.

    - Sublingually. You can use CBD for muscle pain (and reap many other benefits like a “softening” of anxiety, better sleep, and an uplifted mood) by taking it sublingually. To do this, you can use CBD isolate tinctures, full spectrum tinctures, or other oil delivery methods like CBD chocolate that melts under the tongue, and place it under the tongue. Hold it there for 30 seconds to a minute and allow it to absorb before swallowing.

    - Vaping & Smoking. Vaping CBD or smoking CBD is the quickest way to feel the effects of cannabidiol. It’s also the least healthy option. Sometimes taking CBD in the form of edibles is hard to determine how much is too much or too little. With smoking, you can slowly work your way up until you feel the way you want to feel.


      CBD For Athletes

      CBD is a great recovery aid for athletes from all walks of life. As with anything to do with your body, it’s always a good idea to consult with your primary care provider to determine what is the best course of action for your needs and desires. You can use CBD oil for pain, muscle recovery, and even for a better night’s sleep. The studies and anecdotal evidence out there suggest that there are minimal side effects to using CBD, that it isn’t addictive, and that you can’t really overdose on it, so it might just be that ideal addition to your pre and post-workout needs to ensure you can continue enjoying your activities for as long as possible.