CBD Oil For Sore Muscles

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Does CBD actually work for muscle pain? We explore what the research says and whether topics or oral supplements are better. We put 3 types of CBD supplements to the test to see how they can help to recover from tough workouts. CBD offers a variety of potential health benefits, from restoring calm and improving sleep to alleviating a range of symptoms associated with chronic conditions, such as pain relief and inflammation reduction.

CBD for muscle pain: Topicals and pills can help, but research is limited

Does CBD actually work for muscle pain? We explore what the research says and whether topics or oral supplements are better.

It’s touted as a sleep aid , stress killer and even a performance enhancer, but one of the big selling points of CBD is pain relief . Many have turned to it when other remedies haven’t worked or in addition to them.

But what about using CBD post-workout to help your muscles recover and reduce soreness? It’s a different than the chronic pain that most turn to CBD for, but some research suggests it could help replace hot/cold creams and over the counter anti-inflammatory meds.

There are hundreds of CBD products to choose from — both oral and topical — and the type you choose might make all the difference for your aches and pains.

How topical CBD works for muscle soreness and pain

The promise is simple — slather on a cream or gel with CBD where it hurts to relieve pain. But whether or not they actually work is another story.

Topical CBD has only been minimally studied, says Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc. “Generally, there are also herbs or other ‘skin-penetrating’ ingredients in the final formulation of topical CBD products,” Titus says. “Other ingredients such as arnica or menthol are added in order to make product claims such as pain relief.”

In many cases, Titus explains, the concentration of CBD is often low in topical products, and the soothing sensation you feel is a product of the other ingredients. It’s important for consumers to review not only the ingredients list, but also the certificate of analysis, which reveals the total concentration of different cannabinoids in a product.

A CoA shows the weight percentage of CBD and other cannabinoids, including THC, so only then can you interpret the amount of CBD per “serving” of topical application, Titus says. Make sure the CoA is done by an independent, third-party lab, too.

Is CBD the cure to nagging sore muscles?

That said, high-quality, potent topical CBD products are thought to offer temporary relief from pain and soreness. There’s a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the skin, and when CBD is applied topically, it activates the endocannabinoid system through those receptors. CBD binds to the cannabinoid receptors in your epidermal and dermal skin, a process that results in alleviation of pain and inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effect is also why topical CBD is an effective treatment for some skin disorders.

Topical CBD only works where you use it — applying CBD cream to your legs when your abs are sore won’t do you any good. This can be a benefit or a drawback depending on your situation. For example, if you tend to experience full-body soreness, you’d have to use a lot of CBD cream for relief and that can get tedious and expensive.

Just remember, human skin is incredibly absorptive and it’ll absorb more than just the CBD in topical creams, gels and oils. Check the ingredients label to make sure you’re not applying something you’re allergic to or something that, if absorbed, can interact with medications. If you’re unsure, talk to your doctor.

How oral CBD works for muscle soreness and pain

While topical CBD only offers localized relief, oral CBD should have a systemic effect if the product is potent and reliable, Titus says. Oral CBD works just the same as topical CBD, but on a much larger scale, because it enters your bloodstream and can reach cannabinoid receptors throughout your entire body.

Oral CBD is believed to have strong anti-inflammatory effects, and as inflammation is the root of most pain, it makes perfect sense that ingesting CBD could offer relief from inflammation-related pain, including muscle aches and joint pain.

Keep in mind that the majority of studies on the effects of CBD on soreness and pain to date have been small-scale; most large studies have been conducted on animals, and those results may not translate to humans. There’s a long way to go until all the effects of CBD — taken orally or applied topically — are confirmed.

It’s also worth knowing that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve CBD as a food additive or dietary supplement. The agency has concerns about the safety of ingested CBD due to the lack of large-scale, long-term studies in humans, and has concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to declare CBD safe to consume. Regardless, oral CBD is widely available and legal in many states. Talk to a health professional about oral CBD if you’re interested in using it for muscle soreness or any other type of pain.

Should you use topical or oral CBD for soreness?

Whether you should use topical or oral CBD for pain and soreness depends on the source and intensity of your pain. Based on the above research and comments from Medical Marijuana’s Titus, here’s a look at common uses of CBD and which type will best help.

CBD for post-workout muscle soreness: A high-quality topical CBD should help treat temporary muscle soreness from workouts, Titus says. One recent study found that oral CBD can also reduce muscle soreness when taken immediately after a workout.

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CBD for chronic muscle pain: Topical CBD can help during flare-ups, but you’re better off taking oral CBD for systemic pain. A combination can be especially helpful, Titus says. Ingesting CBD helps relieve pain from the inside out, while applying topical cream can quiet particularly tender areas.

CBD for joint pain: Topical CBD likely won’t reach cannabinoid receptors in your joints no matter how potent. Oral CBD is more likely to help people with pain from arthritis and other joint conditions. People with pain from fibromyalgia will also benefit more from ingestible CBD, Titus says.

CBD for general muscle tightness and tension: For general muscle tightness (such as tension in the neck from a long day at your desk), high-quality topical CBD can offer much-needed temporary relief.

Overall, the effectiveness of CBD varies depending on the product, the intended use and the person. Some people find CBD helpful while others don’t notice much of an effect, whether they take it orally or apply it topically. It might take a lot of research and experimentation until you find a CBD product that works for you.

Other ways to treat muscle soreness and pain

If you’re not ready to hop on the CBD bandwagon, try these other methods for relieving sore and tight muscles :

  • Compression therapy
  • Far-infrared therapy
  • Percussive therapy
  • Foam rolling
  • Heat therapy
  • Cryotherapy

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

I Tried 3 CBD Supplements for Workout Recovery. Here’s What Happened.

By the time I finish my Thursday night Muay Thai sparring sessions, I’m beat — and beat up. The kicks I take to my legs don’t always leave bruises, but they still smart. It’s also my second workout of the day after a 7 a.m. lower body lifting session, so I need a little something extra to help my sore muscles recover.

Lately, I don’t turn to ice or compression therapy to soothe my aches. Instead, I’ve been trying out CBD supplements. The cannabis byproduct, also known as cannabidiol, is only one of nearly 100 chemical compounds called cannibinoids found in the plant.

Cannibinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and there is substantial evidence that the compounds have therapeutic properties for treating various health conditions and managing pain. For some, CBD is also appealing because it lacks the mind-altering effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana.

I settled on three CBD supplements to test: an oil, a topical roll-on stick, and a topical cream. To help better understand what effects the CBD might be having on my body, I spoke to Dr. Tanuj Palvia, an interventional sports and spine specialist who often treats patients using alternative pain management techniques.

Generally, Palvia said CBD is great for muscle recovery. In his experience, he’s observed a wide range of benefits, including reducing inflammation, stimulating appetite, relaxing and soothing sore muscles, and improving sleep. There’s still a dearth of scientific research on CBD, but preliminary research backs up some of its alleged benefits.

Hemp Meds CBD Oil

Gold Liquid Hemp Oil
Gold Liquid Hemp Oil

What it is: Liquid CBD, derived from hemp. The company says there are also vitamins, minerals, terpenes, and other trace cannabinoids in the mix, along with MCT oil derived from organic coconut oil and palm oil.

How to take it: Orally, just like any other liquid supplement. Put the recommended dosage in your mouth (three-quarters of a teaspoon), then swallow.

How it tastes: Earthy and strangely sticky, but not unpleasant. There was no weird aftertaste, and I wasn’t burping the flavor after washing it down with water, like I have in the past with fish oil supplements.

I started my CBD recovery trial by taking a dose of oil twice a day, first thing in the morning and right before bed.

Aside from the taste, I didn’t feel much of an immediate effect from the oil. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise, according to the expert. “Most sublingual formulations of THC or CBD cannabis products, such as the hemp oil, will take 20 to 40 minutes to produce any therapeutic effect,” said Palvia. “The advantage here is that sublingual administration results in therapeutic benefit in all muscles.”

My sore muscles didn’t feel much different than under any other recovery protocol over the long term — but after a few days, I did feel like my early mornings were less groggy. Researchers believe CBD can help with sleep, so that squares with the data we have available. Rest is a major factor in recovery, so I considered the oil effective in that sense.

HempMeds Active Relief Roll-On

Active Relief Roll-On
Active Relief Roll-On

What it is: A roll-on applicator filled with a “proprietary herbal blend” of 10 percent hemp extract and 5 percent menthol USP.

How to take it: Topically, by rolling the stick on your sore muscles no more than four times in one day.

How it feels: Ever use Icy Hot or BioFreeze? This has the same vibe. There’s a refreshingly numb tingly feeling wherever you spread it, along with a distinct sharp peppermint smell that will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in an athletic training room.

The roll-on worked more immediately than the oil. As soon as I rubbed it into my aching hamstrings, I felt the same pinprick cooling sensation I’ve experienced hundreds of times using other menthol-based topicals like BioFreeze. The effects lasted for the better part of an hour, dulling the soreness in my muscles.

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After a few treatments, I was hooked — but I wasn’t exactly sure how this differed from the other non-CBD products I’ve used to treat stiff legs. Turns out, I was taking on the soreness through an entirely different system.

“CBD and other cannabinoids work through the endocannabinoid system, an entirely different pain pathway compared to traditional topical agents. For example, Icy Hot, a menthol, and Tiger Balm, a capsaicin, work at the Transient Receptor Potential Channel,” Palvia said. “Therefore, via this alternative route, a Roll-on formulation of CBD can provide an adjuvant source of pain relief during recovery.”

With both CBD and menthol, the roll-on allowed me to take on muscle pain at two points. My hamstring kept aching despite the treatment, however, so the two-pronged approach isn’t guaranteed to do more than address soreness in the short term.

Medix CBD Cream

Medix CBD Pain Cream
Medix CBD Pain Cream

What it is: CBD cream made from hemp oil and other ingredients like aloe and menthol. There’s a higher share of menthol here than in the roll-on, at 9.5 percent.

How to take it: Take a small dab of cream on your hands and rub it onto the affected area. Medix recommends only applying every 4 to 6 hours.

How it feels: Since there’s menthol involved, it’s not much different than the roll-on, smell and all.

Using the cream was messier than the roll-on stick. There is a slightly oily residue on the applied area with the cream, which gets messy if you have lots of body hair or need to put clothes back on immediately. I preferred the roll-on for this reason.

The hot and cold sensation was stronger with the cream, and I felt the effects for longer. The smell also followed me around longer, after having used my fingers to spread out the goop. If you have a habit of touching your face, this probably isn’t the cream for you.

The Last Word

These supplements worked for me — in the short term. General muscle soreness receded through the treatments, but I had a few nagging pains from a half marathon and a training injury that continued to give me issues. If you’re going to use CDB to manage your achey muscles and joints, speak to your doctor first (and check to make sure it’s legal where you live).

More CBD Madness

Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.

CBD For Recovery and Relief

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are growing in popularity – and it’s easy to see why. CBD offers a variety of potential health benefits, from restoring calm and improving sleep to alleviating a range of symptoms associated with chronic conditions , such as pain relief and inflammation reduction.

Cannabis has been used as pain relief for centuries. In fact, chronic pain was one of the first indications to qualify for medical cannabis use. It’s no surprise, considering its impressive anti-inflammatory profile and that inflammation itself is the catalyst behind many painful conditions.

New, promising research is emerging surrounding the benefits of CBD oil for pain and inflammation specifically associated with muscle recovery following exercise. But before we dive deeper into the evidence regarding CBD for recovery, let’s take a look at what happens after you exercise.

Why Is Post-Workout Recovery So Painful?

Most of us are familiar with the aches associated with workout recovery and may have made peace with the phrase “no pain, no gain”. What you may not realise however, is that there is a medical name for this phenomenon- delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). For some of us, DOMS occurs when we exercise after a long period of time; but even seasoned athletes who perform extreme, regular exercise are prone to these unpleasant sensations. Anyone, regardless of fitness level, can experience DOMS and here’s why.

When we work our muscles more intensely, for a longer time or in a different way than they are used to, it is thought to cause microscopic damage to the proteins that make up the individual muscle fibres. The damage triggers inflammation of the affected muscle as the body works to repair it, resulting in the characteristic aches, stiffness and pain we feel after a workout. Since it takes some time for the inflammation to build up, the pain typically starts a day or two following exercise and lasts anywhere from three to five days.

While muscle soreness recovery is unpleasant, it is a normal part of the adaptive process that precedes improved strength and stamina. Over time, these muscles become stronger and more resistant to similar levels of physical exertion, resulting in less DOMS.

The problem arises when we don’t have the luxury of ‘waiting out’ the pain, delaying our next workout or, in the case of professional athletes, postponing a game. It can be difficult to move past the pain, and for some people, this can be a major hindrance to realising the full extent of their physical capabilities.

Although there are many home remedies and anti-inflammatory drugs that are useful for DOMS, CBD oils are gaining traction for their anti-inflammatory effects.

What Is CBD?

CBD is one of over 100 naturally occurring chemicals (called cannabinoids) derived from cannabis plants. Some reluctance surrounding the use of CBD products seems to stem from the confusion over legality or stigma associated with cannabis or ‘marijuana’.

Unlike other cannabinoids such as the well-known tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is devoid of psychotropic effects or euphoric ‘highs’ but packs a punch in medicinal effects. While both cannabis and hemp plants can produce CBD, hemp-derived CBD naturally contains less than 0.3% THC (compared to up to 30% found in marijuana cannabis plants) making it legal in many countries. APOTHEM’s range of CBD products use the purest form of CBD isolate to ensure there is 0% THC.

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CBD is similar to the endocannabinoids produced naturally by our bodies and can be utilised to enhance their soothing effects. As more people contemplate using CBD oil for inflammation associated with DOMS, it is important to consider both the anecdotal and scientific data.

CBD For Recovery

One such study is the RECHARGE CBD Cream Clinical Trial , which assessed 52 participants in a controlled clinical environment. Participants were asked to work out at least three times a week for 14 days and use a CBD cream afterwards. The results revealed that CBD was effective at relieving post-exercise joint stiffness and muscle tension in over 97% of participants. Another 2020 study showed that CBD use significantly reduced muscle aches and improved the rate of muscle recovery, compared to no intervention.

Such trials have laid the groundwork for further research into how CBD anti-inflammatory effects benefit regular gym-goers and athletes. Despite research into this specific area being in the preliminary stages, several professional athletes have come forward, advocating the benefits of this natural product for muscle recovery.

How Does CBD Oil Work?

The human body is composed of countless cells that need to work together. They achieve communication through the use of electrical impulses and chemical messengers, which transmit signals throughout the body. The process of inflammation is one such process that is dependent on chemical messengers travelling through the blood, alerting our immune system to react at the site of damage.

CBD targets a subsystem in the body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is responsible for producing, receiving and translating endocannabinoids of its own. This complex system runs throughout the human body to regulate functions, including pain and inflammation, in order to maintain a healthy state of balance or homeostasis. (You can learn more about the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our recent blog post).

Put simply, the way to reduce inflammation is by blocking the transmission of one or more of these chemical messengers, so that cells cannot communicate with each other. CBD does just that. It interacts with our body’s ECS, regulating a series of complex processes, resulting in an anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) effect.

The challenge is that there are different types of inflammation, for example, allergic reactions versus autoimmune versus injury, and many anti-inflammatory medicines will inhibit a select pathway. The benefit of CBD is that it is thought to regulate multiple pathways, hence interfering with the inflammatory process at various stages and making them effective for different types of inflammation. This allows CBD to affect a number of organs throughout the body, including the muscular system.

CBD Benefits

CBD is a worthwhile muscle recovery supplement, which works by regulating pain signals through the ECS. Here’s why many people choose CBD for recovery and relief:

  • Relaxes muscles, which alleviates muscle tension and spasm
  • Reduces mild inflammation, preventing damage to surrounding healthy muscle
  • Supports sleep, which aids muscle fibre regeneration
  • Helps prevent DOMS and associated pain
  • Supports faster recovery between workouts or following injury
  • Improves consistency with training routines due to reduced pain and downtime

How To Use CBD

In order to see tangible benefits, it is important to use the most effective CBD oil for your body and specific needs.

Formulation

CBD is available in many different forms, including creams, gels, drops, vapours, edibles, and bath salts, amongst others. The choice is personal but for the purposes of post-workout recovery, topical CBD is great for providing targeted relief, as the effects are more concentrated on the inflamed local tissue.

Oral CBD oil drops will get to work directly on the ECS, providing relief for deep muscle tissues as well as additional systemic benefits, which include sleep quality. Combining oral CBD drops with a topical CBD recovery cream is an effective way to holistically support the body.

Dosage

CBD comes in various strengths dependent on the route of administration. It also reacts differently in every person, making the dose requirements largely subjective. Depending on the severity of your pain or injury, as well as the location, you may need to adjust your dose in order to achieve the desired effect. Although dose requirements differ from person to person, it is generally recommended that you start low and titrate up until you find the right balance for your body and needs.

Combine CBD Products With Other Measures

It is important to bear in mind that CBD is not a magic pill and should be used in conjunction with other conservative measures to maximise its effects. Using CBD for recovery is intended to complement other pain-relief measures such as stretching, eating a balanced diet, rest, massage and ice packs.

It can be challenging to find the right CBD balance for your body at first, but remember to be consistent and patient. Follow a set routine and stick to it for a few weeks. Before you know it, you may have one less reason to skip the gym.

We recommend consulting your doctor if you’re unsure whether CBD is right for you and always if you’re taking any existing medications.

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