Restore & Relax: Using CBD Oil for Post-Workout Recovery


Importance of Post-Exercise Recovery

As a Corrective Exercise Specialist, I am always interested in finding ways to help my clients prevent and heal from injuries, correct muscular imbalances and improve their range of motion. By reducing the amount of pain they experience between workouts or shortening the length of their recovery time, they will feel better and be more prepared for optimum performance. If we don’t identify and correct these issues, they can halt a client’s progress and lead to further damage. And pain free clients are happy clients!

Timing of Pain or Discomfort

To simplify the process that occurs after a strenuous workout or new exercise routine, we’ll look at the two categories of discomfort and the timing of each; they are: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and Acute Muscle Soreness.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is muscle pain typically felt 24-72 hours after exercise. The mild muscle injury caused by exercise creates microscopic damage or tears to the muscle fibers. Scientists believe this damage, coupled with the inflam- mation that accompanies these tears, causes the pain.

Acute Muscle Soreness is muscle pain felt during exercise and immediately afterward. It is usually attributed to the chemical by-products produced during exercise, tissue edema or muscle fatigue when the muscles simply cannot contract any longer.

Common Treatments

Ice baths (ouch), antioxidants and ibuprofen were once the remedies of choice to treat post-exercise ailments such as soreness, achy muscles and inflammation. However, you may not realize that NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) drugs like ibuprofen and Aleve can be extremely dangerous, especially when used with regularity.

Additionally, studies have shown that taking ibuprofen and similar over-the-counter painkillers could have unintentional consequences for people who participate in strenuous exercise. Although it would seem logical that anti-inflammatory drugs work by suppressing inflammation, the process can also be potentially taxing on the kidneys during sustained exercise. This would actually reduce the muscles’ ability to recover afterward.

So what if we were to look at alternatives for pain relief in athletes and exercise enthusiasts? Are there less dangerous remedies to improve post-exercise muscle recovery?

Adaptogens & Exercise Recovery

Despite the ancient nature of plant medicine, adaptogens - substances that help to regulate hormones and bring the body into homeostasis - have recently gained popularity for a wide variety of health benefits. Even if you are not familiar with the term “adaptogens,” chances are you have heard of them by there individual names like Ashwaganda, Tumeric or CBD oil.

These herbs have been around for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions but are beginning to garner attention for things such as stress relief, mood stabilization and guess what? exercise recovery!

Using CBD oil for post-workout recovery instead of taking an ice bath? I’m in!

CBD/Cannabidiol Remedy

In particular, CBD (cannabidiol) has recently been making it’s way into the conventional market in the form of oils, creams and tablets. It is a naturally occurring herb made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil.

CBD’s claims of reducing pain after strenuous exercise, faster healing from muscle soreness and better sleep were the main reasons this particular herbal remedy piqued my interest. Intrigued by these claims, I wanted to dig a little deeper.

Because they lack a psychogenic effect, CBD seems very promising for mainstream usage. You may have even seen it as an ingredient in smoothies, elixirs and artisanal chocolates as it has no taste and can be easily combined into any food or drink.

But maybe you’re still skeptical of the claims made about CBD and are hesitant to try it. You’re not sure if this is another “magic bullet” that promises unrealistic benefits and doesn’t deliver. Are you wondering what all the hype is about? And is this stuff even safe?

Safety of CBD

There is now strong evidence to suggest that CBD, a naturally occurring herb, can have even better results without the side effects of over-the-counter drugs. Therefore, a less toxic, more effective, natural substance such as this, would be a better (and safer) recommendation.

To further prove the safety of CBD, in 2018 the Olympic Committee removed it from its banned list of substances. Athletes are now allowed to receive the pain relieving benefits of CBD without fear of penalty or forfeiture. The regulations went into effect as of January 1, 2018, and completely removed cannabidiol from the list. This suggests that research is increasingly showing positive results and that the agency is slowly accepting the use of cannabis.

In my opinion, this was a critical step in proving the safety of CBD. If olympic athletes are cleared to use cannabidiol, then why not weekend warriors?

Understanding the Science

To get a better understanding, let’s take a look at exactly how CBD interacts with your body. Here’s where we get a little nerdy.

First, it connects with three key receptors in your nervous system to reduce sensitivity to pain.

1. Activates a receptor that controls inflammation. (TRPV1)
2. Blocks a receptor that potentially perceives harmful stimuli. (GPR55) 3. Activates serotonin which controls stress. (5HT-1A)

Secondly, it interacts with adenosine and anandamide which are neurotransmitters produced by the body.

Adenosine helps to reduce inflammation and improve sleep. Since our bodies do their best work to restore and replenish our cells during sleep, adenosine is a great alterna- tive to counting sheep!
Anandamide is produced in the brain and binds to cannabinoid receptors in the hu- man body. Anandamine is often referred to as the “bliss molecule” as it’s presence in the body is said to increase the activation of feel-good hormones. Who says you can’t buy happiness?

Anecdotal Evidence

Before I recommend anything to clients, I absolutely must test it out on myself. And so I did. As a former marathoner and now devoted yogi, I seem to have some lingering aches and pains that I would rather not experience.

So for 30 days, I used CBD oil orally in the morning and topically (at the site of pain in my lower back) in the evening. After about 8 days, I began to feel the effects. My lower back pain had subsided by about 50%!

By the third week, I noticed I was calmer and less anxious which encouraged my body to relax and release the tension I was holding onto. I had better sleep allowing my body to rest and recover and my mood had even improved. After trying many different reme- dies over the years, CBD was a game-changer for me.

If you’re interested in trying to make a CBD oil of sorts for your own post-workout recovery, check out this recipe. Now what are you waiting for? Go workout!

Amanda Gay