cbd for athletes in pain

No pain no gain, am I right?

As athletes, we’re no strangers to pain.

In fact, some of us even crave those post-workout aches.

But sometimes a bad case of muscle soreness or an injury can be too much, even for the toughest athlete.

That’s where CBD can help.

Read on for an in-depth look at how CBD can help relieve sore muscles, injuries, and other kinds of sports pain.

How Athletes Experience Pain

As athletes, we tend to experience 2 distinct kinds of pain:

The first and, hopefully, more common type of pain we experience is muscle soreness.

If you workout regularly, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

While you might feel great after going extra hard at the gym, you can rest assured you’ll be paying for it in the morning.

That’s because exercise actually causes microscopic damage to the muscles in the body.

Your body then repairs this damage over the next couple of days, which essentially makes the muscle bigger and stronger.

The second, more problematic type of pain that athletes experience is that caused by injury.

And while we all do our best to avoid injuries, they are still extremely common.

According to the US Center for Disease Control, high school athletes alone account for roughly 2 million sports injuries every year.

Below I’ll take a closer look at muscle pain and sports injuries and how they affect the body.

Muscle Pain – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Muscle pain or soreness, as I mentioned earlier, is caused by microscopic muscle damage.

You actively create this damage when you exercise.

When you exercise you force your muscles to work harder as they normally do.

The stress from doing sets of sit-ups, for example, causes microscopic tears in your abdominal muscles.

When this happens, the damaged cells release inflammatory compounds known as cytokines.

The presence of these cytokines activates the body’s immune system, which sends specialized cells to the area and begins repairing the damage.

This process of damage and repair is the key behind increasing both the size and strength of our muscles.

It’s also what causes us to feel sore the day after working out.

The technical name for this pain is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.

For a long time, DOMS was thought to be caused by lactic acid which forms in the muscles when they lack oxygen to create energy for movement.

However, we now know that lactic acid can actually be used by the body as a fuel source and is usually flushed from our system within 1-2 hours after a workout.

Instead, DOMS is believed to be caused by a hypersensitivity of pain receptors in the damaged muscles.

Once the muscles heal, this sensitivity stabilizes.

While it might be uncomfortable, DOMS is actually a sign that you’ve caused the right kind of damage to your muscles and your body is working hard to rebuild them.

Pain From Injuries

Another common type of pain athletes experience is that caused by injury.

Most experienced athletes will be able to differentiate this kind of pain from DOMS.

While DOMS pain can be uncomfortable, it is relatively mild and manageable.

Many athletes even continue to workout even with DOMS.

Pain from an injury, on the other hand, tends to be sharp, immediate, and will generally prevent you from wanting to continue exercising.

There are many different kinds of sports injuries out there, and they can vary greatly from one athlete to the next.

Some of the most common, however, include:

  • Sprains: Caused by an overstretching or tearing of the ligaments in a joint. Sprains can affect any joint, although they most commonly affect the ankle.
  • Strain: Strains are caused by overstretching or tearing either a muscle or the tendons connecting muscle and bone. Strains are most common in the back and hamstrings.
  • Dislocations: Caused when the ends of the bones in a joint are forced from their normal positions. The most common dislocations we see in athletes affect the shoulder, although they can also affect the knee and other joints.

Other, more serious sports injuries can include concussions, fractures, or spinal cord injury.

However, the most common injuries affecting athletes tend to be strains and sprains.

In fact, chances are you’ve suffered from some kind of strain/sprain in the past.

I know I have.

Some of the symptoms of strains/sprains include:

  • Sharp, acute pain.
  • Swelling and bruising of the affected area.
  • Limited mobility.
  • Muscle spasms or twitching.
  • A popping sound/feeling at the time of injury.

How to Treat Muscle Soreness Pain

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) usually sets in 24-48 hours after exercise and tends to last 3-4 days, depending on the intensity of the damage caused to your muscles and your body’s recovery rate.

There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the pain from DOMS.

These include:

  • Compression: Using compression clothing can help reduce inflammation in muscles. This, in turn, can help reduce soreness, tightness, and hypersensitivity.
  • Foam Rolling/Massage: Foam rolling or massaging worked muscles can help prevent knotting in the muscle fibers, which also causes tightness and pain.
  • Hot/Cold Baths and Showers (hydrotherapy): Exposing your muscles to extremely hot and cold temperatures forces the blood vessels in the area to expand and contract. This can help carry blood around your body more quickly and speed up the recovery process.
  • Pain Relief Balms and Creams: Many pain relief balms contain menthol which can help mask pain. Others work by cooling or warming the local area to relieve soreness.
  • Amino Acid Supplements: Amino acid supplements containing leucine, isoleucine, and valine can help speed up the recovery process. That’s because all 3 of these amino acids play a key role in muscle repair and aren’t always readily available in our food.

How to Treat Pain from Sports Injuries

How you treat a sports injury will vary depending on what particular injury you’re suffering from.

Here are some common ways athletes try to relieve the pain from an injury:

  • Ice: Applying ice to an injured area can help relieve swelling, inflammation, and pain.
  • OTC Pain Medications: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve acute pain from inflammation.
  • Rest: Rest is usually the best thing you can do to treat a sports injury. Unfortunately, some injuries can take a long time to heal. Hamstring strains, for example, can take up to 6-12 months to heal completely, simply because the muscle is constantly in use when walking. Most athletes struggle to stay inactive for long periods of time, which can only increase how long it takes them to recover.
  • Supplements: Certain supplements, like glucosamine for example, promise to relieve pain and inflammation.

A Note on Supplements and Pain Medications for Athletes

If you’re planning on taking something to help you deal with the pain of an injury, keep this in mind:

All pain medications have side effects.

Even the regular ibuprofen tablets you get from the pharmacy can be harmful when not taken properly.

In fact, chronic NSAID use has been linked to stomach ulcers, kidney disease, and liver damage.

In some people, NSAIDs can also cause rashes, headaches, high blood pressure, and more.

Prescription painkillers also have their limitations.

While they might help relieve painful symptoms of an injury, prescription painkillers like steroids and opioids can cause side effects including nausea, dizziness, itching, sweating and more.

Moreover, some prescription medications can cause tolerance and addictions.

For these reasons, I usually recommend most athletes stay away from using pain medications whenever possible.

If you can’t, then I recommend you look into CBD, a natural supplement made from cannabis and hemp plants.

I actively use a variety of CBD products as part of my workout and diet plan, and I’m thrilled with the results.

Below I’ll take a closer look at how CBD can help athletes in pain.

CBD: My #1 Choice for Treating Sports-Related Pain

The health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) really are no secret.

Over the last couple of years, it seems not a week goes by without the media reporting on some new CBD study.

To be honest, I was really skeptical of this stuff at first.

I couldn’t stop asking myself:

How can a single compound have so many different effects?

But the more I read about CBD and the science behind it, the more intrigued I was.

I soon learned that even professional athletes used CBD to help them recover from injury and training.

After more research and countless discussions with my trainers and other athletes, I finally decided to give CBD a try.

Today, CBD is one of my go-to supplements and I use it both to boost my performance, help my recovery, and treat injuries.

Here’s how it works:

When CBD enters the body, it activates the Endocannabinoid System.

This system occurs naturally in all vertebrates and is designed to process special chemicals known as endocannabinoids.

These endocannabinoids, known as anandamide and 2-AG, are very similar to some of the compounds found in cannabis and hemp.

However, the body creates them naturally.

In fact, research shows that endocannabinoid concentrations increase after exercise and could be responsible for causing that iconic post-workout feel-good feeling some of us call “runners high.”

Using CBD, you’re able to boost your endocannabinoid system which is naturally involved in all kinds of bodily processes, including managing pain and inflammation.

CBD for Pain in Athletes

Using CBD in the form of tinctures, capsules, creams, or specialized workout formulas can help your body deal with the pain and inflammation caused by both muscle soreness and injuries. CBD's ability to offer pain relief and reduce inflammation can allow athletes to potentially perform better in their sport.

Here are 4 Ways to Use CBD to Help Athletes in Pain

1. CBD Creams for Muscle Soreness

I regularly use CBD-rich balms and creams to spot-treat sore muscles after a workout. Not only do they help with the pain, but they also seem to leave my muscles feeling more flexible.

2. CBD Gummies for a Better Sleep

The Endocannabinoid System helps regulate our sleep patterns. I find a single CBD-rich chew or gummy can help me wind-down for bed, sleep undisturbed all throughout the night, and wake up feeling refreshed and rested.

3. CBD Tinctures for Morning and Daytime Relief

I regularly use CBD oil in the morning or during the day to help maintain a good mood, high energy levels, and stimulate my metabolism. I cover all of this in more detail in other blog posts.

4. CBD Workout Supplements for Better Performance

The CBD industry is booming with new inventions. I stumble on all kinds of specialized CBD supplements designed for athletes, including pre-workout formulas, energy bars, drinks, and more. CBD infused whey protein is looking extremely promising.

Studies on CBD, Pain, and Inflammation

A lot of research has gone into studying the pain relieving benefits of CBD.

Today, there’s a solid consensus among the medical community that CBD can help relieve pain and inflammation caused by a wide variety of ailments, including exercise and sports injuries.

Below is a list of some of the main studies looking at CBD, the endocannabinoid system, and pain/inflammation:

For more information on how CBD can help you recover post-workout, make sure to check out my article on CBD for sports recovery.

Recover from Sports Pain Today Using CBD

Are you excited about the potential of using CBD to help you deal with sore muscles or sports injuries?

For more information on the many different ways athletes can use CBD, make sure to regularly check out my blog.

For reviews of specific CBD products for athletes, make sure to check out my homepage where I regularly publish in-depth reviews of a variety of CBD products, including recovery balms, sports supplements, edibles, and much more.

Happy training!


Hey I'm Tyler the main contributor here at CBD for Athletics. I'm a huge CBD enthusiast and I've been studying how CBD can improve overall athletic performance for years. I've personally seen great results with CBD, and if you decide to use it, I hope it helps you achieve your fitness goals.