Is CBD the secret to faster muscle recovery?

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Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock the past couple years has watched the epic rise of cannabidiol, or CBD for short, ripple through the health, wellness, and now, fitness industries. Could CBD oil be just what athletes need to take their work outs to the next level?

CBD Oil for athletes

We now know CBD touts many interesting benefits, and some are beginning to show scientific evidence supporting them. It is proven to help with outbreak frequency of certain types of epilepsy, and has been claimed as an effective treatment for in treating pain, nausea,  anxiety, depression, insomnia and inflammation. . Because of this, its market share and research towards the health and wellness space will continue to grow, with some analysts estimating it will be a $2 billion dollar USD industry by 2022. 

And athletes—whether recreational or professional—are no strangers to personal improvement trends  in a variety of approaches, from clean eating and herbal supplements, to the more humanly-mutated world of pre-workout alchemies and nootropics. 

Read on to learn about the benefits of CBD oil for athletes and how this cannabinoid may be just what you need to add plant-based relief and recovery to your fitness regimen.

What is CBD 

Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of more than 100 compounds called cannabinoids contained in cannabis plants. Humans have their own “endocannabinoid system”, ECS for short, (which we recently learned may be responsible for runner’s high!), and these cannabinoids have a similar structure to the body’s. Because of this, cannabis cannabinoids bind to these receptors like our own, and help protect the entire neural network, strengthening immune balance, improve stress recovery and encourage overall homeostasis. Learn more about CBD here.

Terpenes present in hemp (from which resolveCBD is extracted) also have their own unique health benefits. Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds produced by a variety of plants that contain scent factors (for example, lavender’s scent comes from its particular terpene makeup), and studies have shown certain types to be effective in different uses, such as the terpene Myrcene (for pain), Pinene (for energy), and Limonene (for motivation). 

You can purchase CBD in three different forms: full-spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. To get the full benefits of the terpenes and cannabinoids mentioned above, the best CBD oil for athletes is full-spectrum, as it contains the whole plant—these work together, amplifying their positive effects. More on this below.

CBD Oil for athletes

Benefits of CBD Oil for athletes

So, want 7 great reasons to add a natural and effective health elixir to your workout routine? CBD can improve your workouts by:

  1. Reducing inflammation
  2. Combating oxidative damage
  3. Reducing stress
  4. Enhancing blood flow
  5. Protecting brain health and function
  6. Improving mood
  7. Relieving pain

Let’s dive deeper into what happens when you work out and how CBD affects the body. 

What happens to your body when you workout? 

When you start a workout, you take your body from baseline to exertion. The body then relies on glucose, which is  stored away from the foods we eat as glycogen, and this creates the energy required to contract your muscles and move.

You also use adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, and the body only has small stores of both glucose and ATP. After quickly depleting these, the body needs extra oxygen to create more ATP. More blood is pumped to the exercising muscles to deliver additional oxygen. Without enough oxygen, lactic acid will form instead. Lactic acid is typically flushed from the body within 30 to 60 minutes after finishing up a workout.

At this point, you’ve formed microscopic tears in the muscle that allow them to heal in the space between, and grow bigger. Those muscles then become inflamed due to the buildup of lactic acid in addition to the microscopic tears, which triggers the body to respond and repair; this can cause your muscles to become sore or stiff. The inflammation and recovery time will depend on your existing physical health and severity of your workout. So how does CBD Oil fit in for athletes?

CBD oil for athletes

Introducing CBD before your workout 


1. Decreased tension, increased relaxation and flexibility

CBD taken prior to a workout will give you a shot of energy, but won’t tense you up or create an adrenaline rush the way a typical pre-workout supplement would. Since it actually calms the nervous system down, it is considered a “prophylaxis” (preventative for muscle soreness) , and ends up decreasing tension, and increasing relaxation and flexibility.  With the body in this state prior to a workout, you’re helping prevent muscle soreness from the outset. 

2. Lowered risk of injury

CBD can also lower the risk of injury, too. Ever wonder why people who fall or get into accidents while drunk actually have a lower rate of injury than sober people? Okay, dramatic and far from a health-focused example, but drunk people are much looser than their sober counterparts when impacted. If the body is better able to physically “go with the flow,” there is much less chance of injury. Because of this. tensing upon impact can increase your risk of injury

3. Lowered stress and anxiety

Of course, there’s also the mental component to a workout. CBD oil for athletes can help lower stress and anxiety, and foster a greater immediate sense of well-being, to further help you feel like “you got this”.  The terpenes Myrcene, Pinene, and Limonene can also help with pain, energy and motivation. Granted, the effects from terpenes have a very subtle effect, but there is an effect nonetheless. Learn more about what CBD feels like pre and post-workout here.

CBD Oil for athletes


The thing to understand about CBD oil’s impact on muscle building and growth is the role that catabolic hormones play in the human body. And that protein synthesis = muscle building. 

1. Balanced cortisol levels

Certain hormones, known as catabolic hormones, cause a breakdown of muscle tissue. Cortisol (the stress hormone) is the hormone most at fault for breaking down our muscle tissue, which we not only deal with on a daily basis nowadays, but deal with during our workouts too. High-intensity workouts especially cause a lot of physical stress on the body, and despite releasing endorphins that chill you out, you still increase cortisol levels.

A high level of catabolic hormones can cause high blood pressure and eat up muscle tissue, potentially negating the purpose of working out and building muscle. The key to muscle building is to keep your cortisol levels balanced before and during a workout. Pre-workout or caffeine supplements can spike your cortisol levels before a workout, whereas CBD regulates homeostasis and has anti-carbolic properties that regulate cortisol levels, leading to an increase in muscle growth (and limits retention of cortisol-related fat). 

2. Faster muscle recovery

Basically, this means your body is closer to its baseline with CBD than it would have been after a workout without it. During your workout, the increased blood flow helps you transport more oxygen around the body, helping with ATP production and supporting your physical exertion. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD helps with the muscles’ recovery/regeneration time, allowing natural, faster repair, reduced soreness, and a quicker recovery time.

3. Better sleep for better gains

Last but not least, there’s the added benefit of a more restful night’s sleep, which means better conditions for recovery, a clearer mind, and a happier, more motivated individual. Most fitness junkies will agree that a good night’s sleep is imperative to a successful workout, quality lifts, and faster progress. 

CBD oil for athletes

Best CBD Oil for athletes: what to look out for

1. Doping and CBD use

CBD oil is legal for athletes. Professional athletes can use CBD, as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed it from its prohibited substance list in 2018. There is an important caveat: ONLY CBD was removed from the prohibited list (not THC). If you want to check out the 2019 list for yourself, you can do so here. Learn more about the differences between CBD and THC here.

2. Full-spectrum vs. isolate CBD and the Entourage effect 

Ever heard the saying that a whole can be greater than the sum of its parts? This is the ‘entourage effect’ playing out in CBD.  When all cannabinoids, amino acids, and terpenes remain together in your CBD, it allows for better absorption to the body- or more “bioavailable”. This gives it a stronger effect both in the short-term, and allows your body to store up each nutrient from the CBD in the proper ratios to keep it working effectively in the body going forward, giving you longer lasting wellness results. If you’re looking for the effects described in this article (including terpene effects on pain and more heightened mental clarity) opt for a full-spectrum product. To learn why isolate is a less-effective source of CBD, you can learn about the differences between hemp and marijuana-derived CBD here.

Be sure to only use hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD before a workout, as there are only trace amounts of THC found in this variation (<0.3%). CBD derived from marijuana contains higher amounts of THC (5-20%). This can throw off your coordination or block pain signals necessary for recognizing when you’ve over extended your abilities, potentially leading to injury.  

3. Lab tested CBD

If you are an athlete who is looking to try CBD, choose a CBD oil from a reputable company that posts a Certificates of Analysis (like resolveCBD) so you can be sure of exactly what is—or is not—in your CBD oil.  Professional athletes at risk of being drug tested should avoid products that contain any THC.

The way the human body and CBD interact before, during, and after a bout of strenuous exercise is really a beautiful thing. Let’s raise a glass of CBD-water and toast to more discoveries in the cannabis field that can further optimize the human body and mind to be its best. 

DISCLAIMER: Information and products presented by resolveCBD are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or ailment, nor is it intended to be a substitute or alternative for professional medical advice. Always consult with a licensed professional regarding medical treatment or possible interactions with prescribed drugs. Products are intended to be used as directed, by individuals who are 19 years of age or older.