As an athlete, you’re always pushing your body to perform at its best.
And working out isn’t always enough:
How you recover is just as important in determining how well you train and perform.
Well, did you know that CBD might be able to help with your sports recovery?
Whether you lift weights, run marathons, or play football, read on to learn more about how CBD can help you recover and perform better.
What Happens to Your Body During Exercise?
To help you understand how CBD can help with recovery, let’s first take a look at what happens in the body when we work out.
When you exercise a particular muscle, you’re basically exposing it to stress.
This stress causes microscopic damage to the muscle fiber.
And although it sounds bad, damaging your muscles in this way is actually really healthy.
After a workout, your body’s immune system kicks into gear to start repairing the microscopic muscle damage you created when exercising.
Over time, this constant cycle of damage and repair is what helps you build bigger, stronger muscles and adapt to the demands of your exercise regime.
Over time, your original workout routine will get progressively easier.
To keep building and strengthening your muscles, you’ll need to push them further by increasing their workload during your workout.
This process of muscle building is called hypertrophy.
How Does Your Body Recover From a Workout?
There’s a lot more that goes on behind a workout than just muscle damage.
When you exercise, your body also burns energy stores, undergoes complex hormonal changes, and loses fluid.
Once we stop exercising, our body needs to deal with all these changes.
That’s where recovery comes in.
There are many different factors that help us recover from a workout, but sleep is, without a doubt, one of the most important.
That’s because when you sleep, your body is able to focus almost entirely on recovering.
This recovery process is multifaceted and involves restoring balance to your system.
This involves repairing damaged muscle, restoring hormonal balance and creating new energy stores for you to use when you wake up.
Most of the muscle repair that your immune system performs post workout, for example, happens while you asleep.
Your body also produces higher amounts of muscle building hormones, such as testosterone and IGF (Insulin Growth Factor), while you sleep.
At the same time, it reduces the levels of cortisol, one of the main culprits of catabolism (muscle breakdown).
Nutrition and hydration are also extremely important factors for sports recovery.
Water is vital to all our bodies functions, and staying hydrated during recovery is key for helping your body recover as quickly as possible.
Nutrition is just as important and, as an athlete, you’re probably already well aware of how some foods (like protein, for example) can help with recovery processes.
Other aspects that can influence how our bodies recover from a workout include:
- Heat, Ice, and Compression: These treatments can help with injury as well as pain from lactic acid buildup, for example.
- Stretching: A combination of dynamic and static stretching can help relieve muscle soreness and improve flexibility.
- Self-Myofascial Release: Self-massage, like foam rolling, has also been shown to alleviate soreness and help speed up post-workout recovery.
How CBD Can Help With Sports Recovery
Now that we have a basic understanding of how our body experiences exercise and recovers from it, it’s time to look at CBD.
Below is a basic overview of CBD, what it is, how it acts once it’s in the body, and what benefits it can have for sports recovery:
What is CBD and How Does it Work?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 400 active compounds found in cannabis plants.
That includes both the psychoactive plants used to make marijuana as well as hemp plants grown for industrial purposes all around the world.
When CBD enters the body it interacts with our Endocannabinoid System.
This system is made up of 2 receptors (known as cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2) that are designed to process endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG (which the human body produces naturally).
Other cannabinoids like THC, the psychoactive chemical responsible for producing that iconic cannabis “high,” fit directly into cannabis receptors in the brain and body.
CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t fit into either CB1 nor CB2 receptors.
However, it still manages to activate the Endocannabinoid System, although researchers aren’t really sure how.
Research shows that the Endocannabinoid System is involved in regulating many different bodily processes.
These can include:
… and more.
Stimulating the Endocannabinoid System using CBD can affect many of these processes in ways that help promote general wellbeing and treat diseases or medical symptoms.
Chances are you’re already familiar with some of the medical benefits of CBD, seeing as they’re commonly reported on by the media.
But besides helping with particular medical conditions, CBD can also help your body recover from a workout.
CBD for Athletic Recovery
CBD oil and various other forms of CBD products can help athletes recovery from a workout or injury in a few ways. It can help reduce overall muscle soreness, help you sleep much better at night, and target specific pain from sports injuries. All these things factor into your recovery.
3 Ways CBD Can Help Athletes Recover Faster
- CBD can help with muscle soreness
- CBD can help you sleep better
- CBD can help with various injuries
1. CBD Can Help With Muscle Soreness and Post-Workout Pain
As I explained before, inflammation and stress are some key aspects to building muscle.
The stress you put on your body when you work out essentially causes it to break down, then build itself back up to be bigger and stronger than before.
When this happens, your immune system activates inflammatory processes that help deal with the damage from your workout.
This muscle damage and inflammation combine to leave your muscles feeling sore and tender the day after you exercise.
Thanks to its strong anti-inflammatory effects, CBD might be able to reduce some of these symptoms.
The Endocannabinoid System plays a key role in regulating inflammation, and numerous studies have shown that CBD can help lower chronic inflammation caused by conditions like arthritis, IBD, and even Multiple Sclerosis.
I first heard about CBD’s health effects a few years ago, but I never really imagined using it as part of my exercise routine.
However, I’m always reading up on health and fitness news, and I soon learned that an increasing number of athletes were turning to CBD and other cannabis products to help aid their recovery.
I was super intrigued and started researching the topic almost immediately.
Unfortunately, there are virtually no studies exploring the link between CBD, the Endocannabinoid System, and exercise (yet).
But that doesn’t mean that there’s no connection between the 3.
We know, for example, that the human body produces endocannabinoids after exercising.
You know that euphoria you sometimes feel after a particularly good workout?
That’s caused by the release of endocannabinoids like anandamide, sometimes called the “bliss molecule.”
That’s because some types of exercise directly activate the Endocannabinoid System.
Besides these studies, there’s also plenty of evidence from professional athletes showing that CBD helps them recover (I’ll talk about this in more detail further down in this article).
Based on these findings, I decided to eventually give CBD a try.
I even took it up with some of my other training buddies, and we decided that there was nothing to lose.
After all, CBD has a very safe side effect profile and is completely non-toxic.
Today, CBD is a key part of my whole workout regime.
Post workout, I’ll use a combination of CBD products to help my body recover.
I use topical CBD ointments, for example, to relieve muscle pain and soreness the day after a particularly tough workout.
I find the creams work great to relieve my pain and soreness and help me get back to the gym more quickly.
For more information on CBD and pain, check out my report on CBD and pain relief for athletes.
2. CBD Can Improve Sleep
Remember how we talked about the importance of sleep for recovery?
Well, it turns out CBD can help you get a good night’s shut-eye.
That’s because the Endocannabinoid System is directly involved in moderating sleep.
A 2016 study by researchers from the US National Institute of Health and Northeastern Universiy looked at the effects the system has on sleeping rats.
It found that endocannabinoid signaling directly affected the rats’ sleep stability.
Other studies into this area show that CBD can not only increase sleep time but also improve sleep quality.
As a result, people suffering from sleep disorders are increasingly looking towards CBD products for relief.
The way CBD can promote better sleep varies.
Patients with anxiety, for example, might find that CBD can help them get to sleep faster as well as reduce the effect of their anxiety on their REM sleep cycles.
People with chronic pain, on the other hand, might find that CBD prevents their pain from interrupting them as they sleep.
CBD can also help reduce REM disorders in Parkinson’s patients, a condition which leaves them physically acting out during their dreams.
Studies also show that CBD can help increase total sleep time and possibly increase alertness in the morning.
All of this is great news for athletes.
If you find you struggle to get to sleep in the evening, wake up feeling groggy or tired, or struggle to sleep without interruptions, CBD might be able to help.
It could also help you get a better night’s sleep if you suffer from pain or soreness from a workout or injury.
Personally, I find a single dose of CBD oil roughly 30 minutes before bed helps me get to sleep faster, stay asleep for longer, and wake up feeling relaxed, rested, and ready to go.
3. CBD Can Help With Injury Recovery
One final way CBD can help athletes is by speeding up recovery from injuries.
That’s because it can help reduce inflammation and pain which, according to exercise experts, are the hallmark of countless sports injuries.
Best of all, CBD doesn’t produce any of the side effects associated with prescription analgesics or even anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, which can have devasting effects when used regularly.
That’s why so many professional athletes use CBD and cannabis to deal with injuries.
Nate Diaz, for example, says CBD helps him relieve the pain and inflammation after a fight, as well as recover faster from injuries.
NFL players such as linebacker Derrick Morgan and defensive tackle Eugene Monroe, for example, also use CBD to treat pain, promote brain health, and more.
If you happen to suffer from a sports injury, I highly recommend looking into CBD as an alternative to other pain treatments.
While I haven’t suffered from an injury for a while, I regularly use CBD to treat pain in my joints and back after a workout and have seen great results.
Make CBD Part of Your Workout Routine Today
As I mentioned earlier, CBD is a staple in my supplements cupboard and plays a key role in my exercise regime.
And I’m definitely not alone:
More and more athletes like you are using CBD to recover, too.
To learn more about CBD, the Endocannabinoid System and their role in the sporting world, make sure to read my other blog articles.
Also be sure to check out my homepage for in-depth reviews of specific CBD products for athletes.