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Can CBD Help Post-Workout Recovery? Here’s What Science Says

You’ve probably heard all about how CBD can work for anxiety, epilepsy and inflammation — but how does it fit into your fitness routine? Can CBD help with post-workout recovery?

Fitness fans, listen up! Whether you’re a competitive athlete, training for an endurance event, on a weight loss journey or have recently become obsessed with all things sweat-inducing, you’ll definitely want to look at incorporating CBD into your routine. From pilates to powerlifting, it can be a powerful aid in the way your body recovers and moves on to the next workout. 

You may already know that some of your favorite athletes and trainers use CBD for recovery. There are three main reasons why it works, and why it’s so easy to add into your wellness and fitness regimen. Cannabidiol may do more than simply help you recover — it could improve your athletic performance, too. 

While all things cannabis used to be heavily stigmatized and certainly not something associated with wellness, CBD is now embraced within the health community. It’s known for its wonderful healing properties. Let’s take a look at the positive ways it can impact your workouts. 

CBD Is Anti-Inflammatory

Time and again, science has shown that CBD can reduce inflammation. When your muscles are sore and inflamed after a workout, a dose of cannabidiol can help you repair and reduce soreness. We recommend using a sublingual oil to get both quick delivery (you’ll need it after a tough sesh!) and slow, sustained effects. 

A 2012 study on NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, like ibuprofen and Advil) and their impact on muscular growth and recovery after exercise showed that not only does using an anti-inflammatory after a workout help with pain and delayed-onset muscle soreness (being really achy after exercise), but it won’t impede muscle growth.

The study notes: “It does not appear that regular NSAID use will impede growth in the short term, and at least one study indicates that it may in fact have a positive impact.” The same is probably true for CBD, which has a similar anti-inflammatory effect, though more research is necessary.

CBD Can Help Your Muscles Relax 

If you’re feeling stiff, sore or tense after a particularly strenuous workout, CBD could deliver the total-body relaxation you’re looking for, which could aid in your recovery process.

A study from Oxford University showed that relaxation is crucial when it comes to recovery from exercise, saying: “Whether the recovery process is finally successful depends on if the chosen methods fit the purpose of recovery (i.e., response to cognitive or physical demands), the setting/circumstance (i.e., time and place), and how comfortable one feels with the specific recovery strategy.”

CBD Can Improve Your Sleep

Sleep is paramount for repairing tissues, and is among the most important features in one’s athletic regimen … and for basic health! When you get sound, quality sleep, your body is able to get to work on recovering from strenuous workouts and intensive athletic training. And because CBD can help with sleep, it can be a massive aid that helps you get from workout to workout seamlessly.

Proper sleep will also ensure you have better energy the next day, leading to better dietary choices, a stronger workout and a reduced likelihood of injury during your next workout.

A 2011 study showed that without proper sleep (referred to as “sleep debt”), your body will have a much tougher time recovering. The researchers noted: “Sleep debt decreases the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increases the activity of degradation pathways, favoring the loss of muscle mass and thus hindering muscle recovery after damage induced by exercise, injuries and certain conditions associated with muscle atrophy, such as sarcopenia and cachexia.”

CBD Can Reduce Stress

Cortisol is your fight, flight or freeze hormone, sometimes known as the stress hormone. It’s elevated during exercise, and if you don’t rid your body of the excess, it can actually hinder your recovery. Aside from this, chronic stress can flood your body with cortisol, which contributes to slower recovery time and an inability for your body to repair its tissues.

Because CBD is anxiolytic (reduces anxiety and stress), early studies have indicated that it may interfere with cortisol. More studies need to be done, as there aren’t many dedicated solely to CBD’s effect on lowering cortisol levels. However, it seems clear that by lowering stress via CBD, you could remove barriers to recovery and improve your athletic performance.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine studied the effect of stress reduction on athletic recovery. They analyzed runners who used different recovery methods after their exercise, and showed that stress-reducing meditation “may reduce the lactate response to a standardized exercise bout,” and thus improve recovery.

CBD Doesn’t Impair Your Function

As an athlete, your mental acuity is imperative for a solid physical performance. They don’t say “mind over matter” for nothing! This is why some athletes and fitness fanatics may be hesitant to use cannabis as part of their routine — they don’t want anything to take away from their focus.

Fortunately, CBD does not impact mental clarity, nor does it produce the euphoric high many associate with cannabis (that’s THC!), so using CBD to recover won’t impair your ability to focus or perform inside and outside of the gym. 

CBD May Protect Your Cardiovascular System 

While you’re working on that cardio, remember that CBD has been shown in early preclinical trials to be “cardioprotective,” and can potentially aid your heart health. Whether or not this has an impact on your endurance is yet to be seen, but there have been bits of evidence that show it may improve survival rates when it comes to heart attacks.

It can’t hurt, right? Helping your heart goes well beyond cardio, endurance and recovery. And a stronger cardiovascular system could help you recover better, as well as allowing you to live a longer, healthier life.