CBD has been talked about a lot recently in relation to its ability to help a wide range of ailments, including depression and anxiety, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and inflammation, and many more. However, CBD oil is also now being discussed in the sporting industry as a way of boosting fitness. In the last article, we looked at CBD oil for general health and the many benefits it has in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Today we are looking at how CBD oil may be vitally important in helping you up your game, whether you’re in the gym or taking part in a certain sport, and how you can incorporate CBD oil into your fitness routine. 

Physical health and wellbeing is one of, if not the most important, aspects of life we need to maintain. A lot of people do this by eating a balanced diet and engaging in some form of regular exercise. For other people, it can be a way of life where they may schedule their whole life around working out. Whatever form of exercise and the intensity you do, CBD oil prove helpful in your routine. 

How can CBD oil improve your exercise and workouts?

It has been established that CBD can help to reduce pain perception by interacting with cannabinoid and serotonin receptors. This can be useful if we are lifting heavy weights as it can relax muscle fibres and decrease vascular tension – meaning more oxygen can get to those tired muscles. When you get more oxygen to muscles, they can work more effectively. This can help with recovery time between sets in weightlifting and circuit training. Reducing vascular tension around the body relaxes the circulatory system, and allows more blood flow in general, which can reduce the risk of heart complications and unnecessary stress on the heart.

How can CBD oil aid muscle recovery and development?

A lot of the time, it’s not the recovery time between sets that is the main problem for active people, but rather it is the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) – possibly how the term ‘no pain, no gain” was coined. This can be an unnecessary side-effect, particularly for those who want to exercise on a regular basis. The muscle soreness you experience is in fact an inflammation response to exercise, particularly if we have pushed ourselves a little too hard, and the muscles are fatigued. CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can interact with the endocannabinoid system through the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 to help reduce the inflammatory and pain chemicals in the muscles. Decreasing inflammation to the muscles can also help with the next stage of healing, which is the rebuilding of muscle, so CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects can speed up the production of new muscle.

One of the first things people generally notice with taking CBD oil, is the increased amount, and quality of sleep. This is an important aspect in general health, but also plays a vital role in fitness and building muscle. Sleep is important in new cell growth and regeneration, how the body heals itself. When you exercise, especially if you are trying to build more muscle mass, you actually develop small muscle tears that repair themselves and rebuild to enhance muscle mass. As sleep plays such an important role in new cell development, making sure the sleep you have is good quality. CBD promotes good quality sleep by helping to achieve homeostasis in the body, easing any pain, inflammation and calming the mind. In keeping with homeostasis, CBD can make us feel drowsy, most importantly, when we need to feel drowsy (i.e. in the evening) and also make us feel more alert in the day. It can also play a role in the production of melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’. 

One of the hormones in our body that can actually reduce protein synthesis and prevent tissue growth is Cortisol – the ‘stress hormone’. This is not good news for people trying to increase muscle mass, as muscle is made from protein. Cortisol does have its benefits for the body, otherwise we wouldn’t produce it. In the liver it can help to remove toxins, and plays a role in controlling blood sugar levels. CBD can help to maintain normal, beneficial, levels of cortisol and therefore stop it from reducing protein synthesis. One study suggested that CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to lower cortisol secretion and slow the breakdown of muscle, helping athletes to build more muscle mass. Cortisol levels do tend to rise during intense workouts, as  it’s a form of physical stress on the body, but then there are the normal day-to-day emotional stresses that add up too. We already know of CBD’s anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects, so we can see that CBD helping to regulate cortisol levels can also help us to manage these different kind of stressors. 


CBD in Runners

Recent research has also suggested that the endocannabinoid system may be the true generator of the so called “runner’s high”, the euphoric feeling athletes get whilst engaging in cardio-focused workouts. It has always been thought that endorphins caused this, but in actual fact it has been found to be the rush of natural cannabinoid anandamide that causes this sensation. With the addition of CBD, this can interact with the endocannabinoid system to increase and regulate anandamide levels, which can potentially help to boost stamina and energy levels. Meanwhile, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can help keep muscles cramp-free while regulating dopamine levels to ensure balance and movement. 

CBD is becoming increasingly more common in the health and wellbeing world. Its potential to help boost recovery and performance shows its early research as promising, and suggesting it’s not just another fitness fad but a genuine, new and natural way to help us progress with our fitness goals while maintaining general health.