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One thing to note, though: Only buy from established brands from licensed dispensaries—not random bodegas, sketchy websites, so-called health food stores, or even Amazon. Always ask for COAs (Certificates of Analysis) to ensure that the topical actually contains the cannabinoids it claims to have. And have an open mind about using CBD topicals incorporated with THC—because those two cannabinoids combined are more effective when addressing inflammation, which is the primary cause of soreness and pain.

In my early thirties I dabbled in SoulCycle, swimming at the 14th Street Y, and three disastrous attempts at SLT. These days it’s running loops in Central Park, Y7 yoga, and contact combat. And let me tell you, hitting a weekly fitness goal isn’t always easy—especially when you’re rapidly approaching your 40s with a few minor injuries under your belt.

So recovery is a big deal. And personally, I’m all about CBD (a.k.a cannabidiol)—the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis. It’s been having a moment these past few years, making appearances in all sorts of wellness and beauty products—from CBD edibles, to capsules, to transdermal patches, and beyond. But make no mistake. It’s not the passing health trend that activated charcoal and golden milk used to be.

POPULUM COLD THERAPY HEMP RUB (100MG; $45)

I’m no spring chicken and the occasional bout of soreness is now a fact of life.

Unlike Wildflower, Populum comes in gel form. Also: It’s artic. Kind of like a more aggressive Vick’s Vaporub—so much so that you will definitely need to wash your hands after application. (The last thing you need is to accidentally rub your eyes with that stuff still on your digits.) But it’s effective—despite its relatively low dose of CBD. And a little goes a long way. Use it for minor aches and inconveniences—like when you find yourself stiff because you’ve been sitting on your far-from-ergonomic work chair most of the day. And if you find yourself really hurting, I recommend using a topical that contains both THC and CBD. (More on that below.)

Baskin has a lower–dose formula that clocks in at 150mg CBD that costs $20 less. But I say, Go big or go home. Invest in the higher dose if you want real relief all over: It’s meant to be used all over the body versus its cousin, which was specifically created for smaller targeted areas. Beyond that, you can always use the 400mg cream the way you see fit: Nobody is going to stop you if you want to use it only in specific pain points.

Wildflower was my inaugural topical. At the time, I had just started learning Krav Maga—a rather intense Israeli contact combat sport where there are no real rules. (Except to survive.) And my body was sore all the time those first few months. It didn’t help that I’ve got this existing and highly-bothersome back condition. I was also running a few times a week. But Wildflower’s CBD Cool Stick, which conveniently comes packaged as a roll-on, helped me tremendously. The trick is to apply the cooling stick before your workout or any other physically strenuous activity—not after. Why? Because in my experience, sweat reactivates the cooling components of the Wildflower’s formula. A six–mile run is infinitely more pleasant when you feel the the cream working even when you’ve got a ways to go. Also note that the brand also carries a Healing Stick (500mg) for $75. But it’s got arnica and I’m not exactly fond of the odor it emits through my clothes. However, if you do like arnica-scented everything, go for it.

Medterra is also among the safest CBD topical options on the market for any user because each roll-on or pump bottle is made with 99.6 percent pure CBD isolate—meaning it is entirely THC-free. Even the “weaker” strength of this cooling cream offers a quick sense of relief that soothes joint and muscle pain away.

We love Joy Organics salve most for back pain, and for massage. It’s a great choice because it’s less targeted than, say, a roll-on, but still gives you that focused relief you need from a hemp oil, with all those amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

Shop NanocraftCBD Extra Strength Roll-On Stick for Muscle and Joint Recovery

SabaiDee discloses their lab test results here. They test every batch of oil in-house, and a third-party lab verifies their results.

In other words, a super terpy mix from Joy Organics! You can smell it, too, in the fragrance: coconut, eucalyptus, lavender, beeswax, and other floral notes. For the level of quality you get from this topical, it is an excellent value for the cost, and the price is very reasonable.

How does this product stack up with terpenes? Fairly well, with therapeutic levels of caryophyllene, limonene, geraniol, and linalool. This offers the light, faintly floral yet fruity and spicy tones you get from the cream, plus the relaxing and uplifting benefits of the terpenes alongside their potential as pain relievers.