I began by using the gumdrops and oral spray about 30 minutes before I hit the gym, and used the balm following my exercise routine. I tracked my progress and workout performance of my workouts on my phone — particularly noting how strenuous my runs and resistance training felt, compared to the prior weeks.
I work out at night, and when I wake up, I tend to be somewhat stiff despite of stretching before and after hitting the gym and icing my muscles. After I began taking the CBD gumdrops or spray post-workout, in combination with Hempure’s salve, I found I felt a little less like a plank of wood in the morning. It definitely didn’t get rid of my muscle aches completely, but it alleviated some of my discomfort and soreness.
To be honest, I noticed only a slight difference in my workout performance when it came to the gumdrops and spray, and it very well may have been a placebo effect. However, I felt the positive effects of the balm almost immediately. I wouldn’t say it took away my post-workout pain, but it definitely soothed my muscles. In addition to CBD oil, the balm contains eucalyptus oil and lavender oil — which, in some studies, Healthline reported, have both been shown to also ease pain. Not only did it smell wonderful, but it created a tingling sensation (probably due to the eucalyptus oil) that was relaxing.
"There is a huge void of research in terms of confirming most effective dosing [of CBD] for various symptoms," Dr. Eric Baron, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Vox in November 2018. “Unfortunately, we are nowhere near close to having any definitive trials on effectiveness for most symptoms claimed to benefit from CBD with trials that are scientifically relevant, such as prospective randomized placebo-controlled trials.” A bipartisan farm bill signed into law this past December legalized industrial hemp, and it will most certainly lead to a boost in the CBD industry — and hopefully a boost in research surrounding this compound — in 2019. But for now, its impact on exercise (among other things) relies on anecdotal evidence.
My weekly fitness routine can be pretty rigorous. It typically consists of two to three weightlifting sessions, a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, and cardio a few times a week. So, I tried to keep my expectations about CBD — and what it could actually do for my workout performance and recovery time — realistic, despite research showing the benefits.
After about seven days of alternating between the gumdrops and spray before right after my workout, I decided to try the CBD products right after I got back to my apartment from the gym to see if they felt more effective. As Verywell Health reported, muscle soreness after workouts, in large part, is caused by microscopic tears that lead to inflammation. Since CBD has been found in some studies to have those anti-inflammatory and analgesic (aka, painkilling) effects, I thought it may be helpful for my achy muscles. As before, I continued to use the ointment on my muscles and joints that felt tender.
I wanted to use an array of CBD products formulated to help with health and exercise recovery, so I opted to try three different products: an edible, an oral spray, and a topical formula. Though edibles — aka CBD-infused snacks — are probably one of the most popular kinds of CBD products on the market, a 2009 study estimated that oral consumption of CBD only has a 4 to 20 percent rate of bioavailability. Meaning, your body can only use a small portion of each dose of CBD. The spray is delivered through a spritz under your tongue for faster results than having it absorbed through your digestive system. As for CBD-infused balms, you simply use them as you would any lotion or cream. As a promising study from 2015 found, transdermal (aka, topical) CBD reduced inflammation, swelling, and arthritis-related pain in rats — and many folks believe this method could bear similar results for people.
Lachenmeier, D. W., and Diel, P. (2019). A Warning against the Negligent Use of Cannabidiol in Professional and Amateur Athletes. Sports 7:251. doi: 10.3390/sports7120251
The TL;DR? There still is a lot of research needed to fully understand CBD’s relationship with exercise. Part of the issue with CBD, according to Vergnaud, is that it’s tough to study because so much of the science is based on “subjective recollections.” If somebody thinks their CBD product made them more relaxed or decreased their pain, it could be a placebo effect, not the CBD itself.
Kasper, A. M., Sparks, S. A., Hooks, M., Skeer, M., Webb, B., Nia, H., Morton, J. P., & Close, G. L. (2020). High Prevalence of Cannabidiol Use Within Male Professional Rugby Union and League Players: A Quest for Pain Relief and Enhanced Recovery. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 30(5), 315–322. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0151
“If you choose to use CBD as a workout supplement, make sure you understand the potential health risks and side effects and talk to a healthcare professional about determining a safe dose,” Vergnaud says. “Remember that only a few CBD products have been approved by the FDA thus far, so It’s important to use cannabis products from trustworthy brands that publish their lab test results to avoid health risks.” Be safe and have a chill workout.
3. It Can Improve Sleep
“CBD may help you get in the right mental state for a workout by improving motivation, and can help you focus on your body and be more mindful in your workout or practice,” she says.
There’s also the issue of spiked products. Even if you’re not an Olympic athlete, a study published in Sports in 2019 cautioned, unregulated CBD products could have added ingredients, like THC. That’s a problem if you’re doing something that requires a lot of focus and potential injury, like weightlifting.
A study published in Sports Medicine in 2020 found that when it comes to CBD and sport, a lot remains to be understood. Vergnaud says that CBD can lower stress and anxiety, and make people enjoy their workouts a little more, and some studies have indicated this to be true.
1. It Can Help With Muscle Recovery
You can pick from countless CBD-based lotions and creams that claim to relieve muscle soreness, and that’s because of the ingredient’s anti-inflammatory prowess. “CBD may help muscles relax,” says Vergnaud. That comes in handy since your muscles are tensed up after vigorous exercise.
Because CBD works to alleviate stress and anxiety, it can offer the added perk of improved sleep quality. And good sleep is fundamental to not only your athletic performance but your overall health. A study of professional rugby players and CBD published in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2020 found that 40% of players who used CBD felt it helped them sleep better. Other research has linked CBD as having therapeutic potential for sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep issues.