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The Ultimate Guide to Using CBD for Workout Recovery  

Written By Ellese Symons Jun 16th 2023
Table Of Contents
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Most athletes are painfully aware of the strain intensive training and intense workouts inflict on their bodies. Although tender muscles and aching joints might seem a small price to pay for gaining strength, building endurance, and perfecting your form, the pain, stiffness, and reduced muscle strength can linger for days. Instead of enduring the discomfort to avoid minimizing your gains, consider supporting your workout recovery naturally with CBD. 

CBD (cannabidiol) is the most abundant of more than 113 cannabinoids in hemp extract shown to support numerous aspects of overall health and well-being. It interacts with multiple molecular targets throughout your body and brain. In this CBD guide, you'll learn how the cannabinoid works, discover what the research shows about its impact on workout recovery, and find answers to frequently asked questions. 

The Science Behind CBD and Workout Recovery 

The oil extracted from hemp's stalks, stems, and flowers has more than 480 active plant elements. Most of the research investigating the science behind CBD's considerable health and wellness potential has focused on the cannabinoid's impact on the receptors of the largest regulatory system in your body, your endocannabinoid system (ECS). With ECS signaling involved in everything from sleep cycle regulation and muscle movement to stress responses and the perception of pleasure and pain, cannabis researchers believe CBD supports ECS function in a way that restores balance (homeostasis) (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018) 

While there's been little research delving full force into the specifics of using CBD for workout recovery, investigators have been busy connecting the dots. In a 2020 publication in Sports Medicine – Open, the cannabinoid is credited with multiple biochemical and physiological effects researchers identified as potentially beneficial for athletes (McCartney et al., 2020). In a similar narrative review published in 2021, the author details CBD's influence on several homeostatic regulators, including "promising" (not conclusive) evidence supporting the use of CBD for "sport-related fatigue," recovery efficiency, and advantages for athletes involved in repetitive, long-distance training (Rojas-Valverde, 2021). 

How to Incorporate CBD Into Your Workout Recovery Routine  

Once the cannabinoid-rich oil is extracted from the plant's stalks, stems, and flowers, it can be used as an ingredient in an impressive number of products, CBD tinctures, topicals, softgels, gummies, and more. Based on the feedback of nearly 2000 CBD users in a 2019 CBDistillery customer survey, most report positive results for relaxation, mild or temporary anxiety, better sleep, and pain, stiffness, and inflammation after physical activity. While some people feel they get adequate relief using their favorite products as needed, most report achieving their best results within 7-14 days of consistent use.   

In a study published in the International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health, athletes taking CBD post-workout reported significantly less discomfort after physical activity at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours. While researchers acknowledged CBD's exact mechanisms impacting delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) are not entirely understood, investigators felt their study suggested considerable potential to "aid recovery" and helped athletes return to pre-EIMD soreness levels faster (Hatchet et al., 2020). But not all CBD products are the same. As you're browsing your options, you'll find that most fit into one of the following types. 

Full Spectrum Hemp Extract  

Full spectrum CBD products contain all the antioxidant vitamins, essential minerals, amino acids, terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids nature intended, including a small, non-intoxicating amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) (Jenkins, 2018). Full spectrum hemp extract is often considered the more potent option because of the way the combined impact of the extract's cannabinoids and terpenes amplifies the contributions of each component. It's a property cannabis is known for called an "entourage" effect (Nahler et al., 2019). 

Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract  

Broad Spectrum CBD has many of the same additional cannabinoids and terpenes as full spectrum, but the THC is reduced to non-detectable levels. Some companies make broad spectrum products by adding a selection of minor cannabinoids and terpenes to CBD isolate. Manufacturers who want their broad spectrum extract as close to the original as possible filter the THC from full spectrum oil through chromatography (Ashton, 2022). Broad spectrum CBD gives you the potency-maximizing potential of an entourage effect, but some feel the impact is somewhat diminished (Wilkins, 2022). 

CBD Isolate Powder  

CBD isolate is the purest form of cannabidiol you'll find. All that remains after a process called winterization is a flavorless, odorless, 0% THC CBD powder. You won't have the additional plant components for an entourage effect, but that's no reason not to try it. In a report published in the Journal of Clinical Medical Research, investigators specified that most of the data utilized for their research documented the effects of the "pure form" of CBD administered through ingestion, sublingual absorption, or inhalation. (Larsen & Shahinas, 2020) 

CBD for Specific Types of Workouts 

Workout recovery is important for people of all fitness levels, not just elite athletes. Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) triggers an immune system response that speeds specialized white blood cells to injured tissues to initiate repairs (Pedersen & Hoffman-Goetz, 2000). The resulting inflammation can also cause secondary damage to surrounding areas. Pushing through the discomfort can stall your progress, cause widespread inflammation, and increase your risk of permanent injury (Fitzgerald, 2013). 

When you enjoy a CBD-infused food or beverage, the cannabinoids interact with numerous ECS receptors throughout your body and brain. Applied topically, CBD relays urgent signals to the ECS receptors below the surface of your skin. Although there's no "wrong" way to use CBD for workout recovery, the following examples pairing popular products with equally popular workouts could help get your compass pointing in the direction that's right for you. 

Strength Training  

Strength training with resistance bands, machines, or free weights increases muscle, tendon, and ligament strength, helps boost your metabolism, and reduces body fat (Wientt & Carpinelli, 2001). Alternating which muscle groups you're working on each session can help prevent injury, but can also cause discomfort that migrates throughout the week. 

For fast-acting, targeted relief, consider trying a CBD topical. CBDistillery® CBDol® Topical CBD Salve gives you 500 mg of our pure, potent full spectrum extract in a blend of shea butter, beeswax, and soothing plant extracts. Our regular strength CBD Relief Stick gives you 500 mg of 0% THC CBD. Our extra strength formula contains 1000mg. You can use CBD topicals on their own or to complement the effects of your favorite tinctures, softgels, or gummies. 

Endurance Training  

Endurance training increases your ability to withstand the physical challenges of intense activity. It's the type of exercise that strengthens your heart and improves your circulation. It's also great for stress relief and muscle building (Mrowczynski, 2019). For endurance training recovery, consider adding a CBD oil tincture to your routine. 

CBDistillery® CBD Oil Tinctures are available in full spectrum, broad spectrum, and 0% THC CBD isolate. They're made with a blend of our high-quality hemp extract and MCT oil to enhance bioavailability. You can use your tincture to add a serving of CBD to your protein shake, breakfast smoothie, or post-workout snack. Hold the oil beneath your tongue for 45-60 seconds before swallowing for fast-acting relief. 

High-Intensity Interval Training 

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is most often favored by people who what to accomplish more in less time. Every session is punctuated with short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of low to moderate exertion. This type of workout is best known for burning a lot of calories quickly and boosting metabolisms (Tinsley, 2017). 

If you value efficiency (and convenience), consider adding full spectrum or broad spectrum CBDistillery® CBD Gummies or CBD Softgels to your recovery routine. Either option gives you 30mg of CBD in every serving. To ensure you're getting the rest you need to optimize the impact of your workout, try our Broad Spectrum CBD Sleep Gummies made with the additional sleep-promoting potential of melatonin. 

FAQs About Using CBD for Workout Recovery  

What's the Best Time to Use CBD for Optimal Results?  

CBD can be used before, during, or after your workout. Many people start their day supporting ECS function with an ingestible product, then apply a topical after working out. Others prefer timing a single daily serving around their workout or taking CBD about an hour or so before bed. 

How Much CBD Should I Use for Workout Recovery?   

Every product has serving size suggestions on the label. If you're new to CBD, we suggest starting with a small amount. Then increase that amount gradually over time. Taking more CBD than you need is not harmful, but starting low and going slow can reduce the risk of developing (minor) side effects. 

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Using CBD for Workout Recovery?  

CBD is generally well-tolerated and safe for most people. But it can cause dry mouth, fatigue, digestive upset, nausea, or changes in appetite (Bergamaschi et al., 2011). Consult your healthcare provider if you have a medical condition. CBD and other cannabinoids can interact with over-the-counter and prescription medications. 

How Long Does It Take for CBD to Take Effect?  

CBD edibles, softgels, and capsules can take up to two hours (or more) to make their way from your digestive system to your bloodstream. You could feel the effects of a CBD oil tincture used sublingually much faster because the cannabinoids are absorbed through the artery beneath your tongue. 

Can I Use CBD for Workout Recovery If I Am Drug Tested?  

Full spectrum CBD products contain detectable amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is THC regardless of the source. It's fat-soluble and can accumulate in your body. Broad spectrum and CBD isolate products have non-detectable THC levels, but there are no guarantees. If you're concerned about the possible repercussions of an unsatisfactory drug test, we recommend avoiding cannabis of any kind. 

Is CBD Legal for Athletes to Use?  

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed cannabidiol from their list of banned substances in 2018. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) also removed CBD from their list. But all other cannabinoids remain restricted. Athletes bound by anti-doping rules are liable for any banned substances found in their system (Morski, 2021). 

Should CBD Be Part of Your Workout Recovery? 

Current evidence suggests CBD helps support workout recovery. If you're leaning towards trying a product or two but not quite sure where to start, consider taking our 3-minute CBD Quiz or scheduling a personal consultation. CBDistillery® products are rigorously tested, quality assured, and made with 100% clean ingredients. 


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