No matter how you choose to move, workout recovery is key to keeping your body in motion and maintaining your active lifestyle. Plenty of sleep, water, protein, rest days and stretching are tried-and-true recovery go-tos after a challenging hike or strenuous exercise. But what about CBD? Now, more than ever, CBD is being used and praised by members of the fitness community as a tool to help your body recover.
Wait, what is CBD?
Cannabidiol, popularly known as CBD, is a non-psychoactive (it won’t make you feel high or impair your cognitive functions) cannabinoid derived from cannabis and hemp. While not a cure-all, CBD is being used and researched for a wide variety of potential benefits including: relief from everyday stress and anxiety, encouraging healthier, more restful sleep cycles, aiding in recovery from exercise-induced inflammation and pain relief.
CBD, Pain and Inflammation: What does the research say?
Pain, when used as an umbrella term, practically has its own zip code. And each different type of pain may require different types of treatments--what works for one may not work for the other. Current research suggests that CBD may be most effective for treating neuropathic and inflammatory pain--both of which can result from exercising.
Neuropathic pain is most commonly associated with glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the nervous system. Glutamate pathways are linked to many other neurotransmitter pathways and glutamate receptors are located through the brain and spinal cord. Glutamate plays a major role in the regular physiological functions and is responsible for switching your neurons on. When dysfunction occurs, this can cause problems for your body, such as trouble sleeping or extended periods of pain. 
While researchers and scientists are still in the early stages of studying CBD at a clinical level, the results are promising. Data suggests CBD may be neuroprotective and that it may inhibit the release of other inflammatory agents aside from glutamate, and in doing so dulls the sensations of burning, prickling or tingling that are characteristic of neuropathic pain. An added bonus: CBD is also being studied for its antioxidant properties, helping to promote healthy cell regulation.
Inflammation-based pain expands beyond just neurons. Examples of this type of pain include arthritis, headaches, cramps and muscle aches - including those induced by physical activity.
One such study conducted by Dr. Ethan Russo, MD, a board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, found CBD (and THC) may be up to 20 times more potent (yes, you read that correctly) as an anti-inflammatory agent than conventional types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Aspirin or Ibuprofen.
Simply put, CBD shows tremendous potential as a pain reliever (for neuropathic pain) and an anti-inflammatory, regardless of the cause of inflammation. Its benefits come without harming the lining of your stomach or increasing your risk of a stroke or heart attack - we can all agree this is great news!
Don’t forget about sleep.
Rest and sleep are essential to recovery, and CBD is being studied for its potential to help you get more of each. CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors in your endocannabinoid system (ECS); your ECS is a physiologic system, with receptors located throughout the body, that plays a significant role in establishing and maintaining homeostasis. The latest research involving the ECS illustrates CB1 and CB2 as being integral in aiding and regulating pain relief and inflammation--as you’ve just learned!
CBD may help to regulate cortisol, a stress hormone, that can have a significant effect on non-REM sleep cycles. All of these factors - pain, inflammation and stress - can all impact the quality and duration of sleep.
How should I use CBD for workout recovery?
As always, we recommend starting a conversation with your doctor if you’re new to CBD or have questions about your current usage. If your physician isn’t trained to provide information on the topic, he or she may be able to recommend a specialist.
CBD-infused products come in all different kinds of formats, like patches, tinctures, gel caps, lotions, gummies, rub-on balms and more. If you can name it, you can likely find one containing CBD. If the abundance of choices is a bit overwhelming, we get it. The good news: you aren’t alone! (There’s no bad news, for the record.) Here are a few important questions to ask yourself when choosing a CBD-infused product for workout recovery:
What problem am I trying to solve?
Depending on whether you’re looking to relieve neuropathic pain, tackle inflammation and soothe sore muscles, calm your nerves or get a better night’s sleep, your recovery goals will influence what type of CBD product will best suit your needs.
What CBD product is best for me?
There isn’t a hierarchy of formats when it comes to CBD - tinctures aren’t better than gummies, and patches aren’t better than a balm. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with and the problem you are trying to solve. Are you open to ingesting it or do you prefer applying it topically to your skin? Based on your answer to the previous question and which format(s) you’re willing to try, you can move forward from there.
How much should I use?
With guidance from your doctor, finding the right CBD product and dosage may involve a bit of experimenting to find your sweet spot. In terms of dosing, there are many factors that contribute to how much you should take. We’ve created a general guide to help you find the right dosage for your needs and goals.
When it comes to CBD topicals like a lotion or a balm, you usually can’t go wrong. With our Relief Realized Healing Stick, we recommend applying generously to areas of pain or inflammation for immediate soothing relief. Other formats like ones you ingest, we recommend starting with a baseline amount and increasing your dose as needed. Our Time Taken Daily Soft Gels come with 25mg of CBD (and plenty of other organic goodness). Our Director of Content Marketing, Jenna, takes one Soft Gel in the mornings with her coffee. Before bed, she takes two to help her sleep soundly.
Above all else, listen to your body. If you get the OK from your doctor, have fun trying out different formats and dosages to find the one that works best for you and your body. You might be surprised with what you find.
Recovery is key to feeling good and staying active, whether you’re a yogi, climber, curling champion or CrossFitter. There’s a seemingly endless number of ways to give your body some much-needed TLC after working out--and now everyone is talking about and using CBD to help alleviate soreness and encourage restful sleep. But does it work?
While the research is still in early stages, the findings are exciting. Data suggests CBD is a powerful and effective anti-inflammatory and may help to relieve both neuropathic- and inflammation-based pain. It may also help you catch some Zs, another important part of recovery. (And seriously, who couldn’t use more sleep these days?) Although not a replacement for other recovery options, this means CBD may be that cherry-on-top that will help you feel your best when it’s time to get moving again.
If you’re interested in incorporating CBD into your post-workout routine and seeing what it’s all about, we recommend starting the conversation with your doctor. Neither CBD nor recovery is one-size-fits all, so when tryout out different formats and dosages, keep an open mind, stay curious and listen to your body. What works for your accountability buddy or teammate may not work for you, and what you need after a long ride might differ from what you need after a HIIT session.
Questions? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Stay active and adventurous,