Does CBD Help In Muscle Recovery?
Muscle soreness is a vital part of developing stronger muscles. Integral to keeping us on our feet and mobile, the importance of robust muscles should not be overlooked. Sometimes, however, that soreness doesn't subside when it should, and this can lead to discomfort. Keep reading to find out how CBD could reduce the inflammatory response and aid faster recovery.
The importance of keeping your body in good condition
Whether you are a dedicated runner, amateur powerlifter, or you like to cycle to work rather than drive, your muscles play a crucial role in all physical activities. It is therefore essential that your muscles are in the best possible condition. Not only will stronger muscles recover faster, but they can support us in being less prone to injury, and ultimately, help us reach our fitness goals that little bit quicker.
No matter what type of physical activity you take part in, muscle soreness is inevitable. Don’t worry; this isn’t a sign that you are overdoing it (in most cases), or that you have weak muscles. Typical remedies for muscle soreness include a protein-rich diet, hot or cold treatments (a nice long bath is a personal favourite), and plenty of rest. For most people, the combination of these remedies should be enough to support their muscles’ ability to recover and repair after exercise.
If, however, you find that muscle soreness is still an issue, no matter how long you spend in the bath, there are other options to explore. Before we examine what these are, it is worth taking a closer look at what is happening inside the body when our muscles feel sore.
Sore muscles are a crucial part of getting stronger
The process of working out is the epitome of the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. When we run, lift weights, or even stretch, we create tiny tears in our muscle fibres. As these tears repair themselves, the affected muscle grows bigger and stronger. Part of that repair process includes inflammation, and although that may sound bad, inflammation is a good thing—unless it becomes chronic.
Our newly repaired muscles are better equipped than they were before, and we can continue to work toward our fitness goals. Sometimes, however, that soreness is delayed, leading to a condition called delayed onset muscle soreness. The slight pain or strain that we feel in our muscles might not occur until 48 hours after the event. There may also be cases where we push ourselves a little too far, and a slight soreness develops into mild, persistent pain. If you’ve ever done one too many squats at the gym, you’ll know the feeling the next day, especially when you try and get out of your seat.
Although muscle soreness is inevitable, that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and wait for it to pass before we can do another workout. Instead, we have already mentioned some of the things you can do to aid the body’s ability to recover and repair muscles. But that didn’t include the “other options”. A high-protein diet and stretches are common remedies, but as our knowledge of CBD continues to grow, it too becomes an intriguing candidate for relieving muscle soreness.
CBD as a recovery agent
A study from 2012 showed that cannabinoids “significantly suppress chronic inflammation and neuropathic pain” by targeting specific receptors. Although the study used a rodent model, it provides an encouraging indication of the compound's potential. In the same year, another review also hinted at the therapeutic potential of CBD. Researchers suggested CBD influences inflammation far beyond its typical antioxidant properties by impacting intracellular signalling.
The key to recovering from exercise stems from promoting a reduction in our inflammatory response. By decreasing the amount of inflammation surrounding our muscles, we can lessen the pain and swelling we experience. This is where CBD steps in. Its effectiveness lies in the way it activates and supports our endocannabinoid system, a system that researchers believe may be pivotal to managing inflammation. In a 2014 review of the endocannabinoid system, scientists concluded that “It is increasingly recognized how tightly this expanded ECS is intertwined with the key processes involved in inflammation”.
The road to recovery has many stops
The effect CBD has on inflammation is multifaceted. By supporting the production of endocannabinoids, and modulating the activation of specific receptors, CBD lends a helping hand to our endocannabinoid system—the same system that plays a regulatory role in our immune system, and thus our inflammatory response. If you find that even light activities leave you feeling excessively sore, it appears the benefit of influencing the ECS should be a key consideration.
Soreness is an essential part of ensuring muscles are better equipped to deal with everyday movement or mobility issues. Whether that be lifting weights in the gym or comfortably getting in and out of bed, healthy, active, and supple muscles are crucial. In circumstances where recovery is slow, or aches and pains persist, then CBD may be able to provide extra support, at least according to the preliminary results above.
As always, the key to a healthy and active lifestyle is balance, whether that be the balance of the endocannabinoid system, the balance of our diet, or the balance of our workouts. Knowing when we should push that little bit harder, or when to back off, is crucial. Find what works for you, but remember that as we continue to learn more, CBD could be a helping hand that supports faster muscle recovery.