- A type of muscle damage known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can occur after prolonged exercise(1). DOMS can worsen after the muscle has been stressed, leading to permanent damage.
- CBD, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis sativa, has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and analgesic activities in preclinical studies(2).
- Resistance training can cause severe damage to the skeletal muscle myofibrils and the extracellular matrix. This type of injury, known as exertion-induced muscle damage, can affect muscle function and delay recovery(3).
- According to preliminary preclinical studies, CBD may help protect against gastrointestinal damage associated with inflammation and enhance the healing of traumatic skeletal injuries(4). However, the studies are inconclusive and, in some instances, conflicting.
- Still, CBD may help inhibit immune cell accumulation in acute inflammation(5). Studies suggest that CBD may promote the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Research and Studies on CBD and Muscle Recovery
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is muscle damage that can occur after prolonged exercise(6).
DOMS usually occurs when the muscle is stressed. However, the condition can worsen if the activity is too intense. In severe cases, muscle stress can lead to permanent damage.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used by individuals dealing with pain and aches after exercise(7). However, these drugs may also increase the risk of kidney injury in endurance athletes prone to dehydration and muscle damage, contributing to kidney injury.
Meanwhile, CBD, the nonpsychotic cannabinoid compound of the Cannabis sativa plant, has been shown in preclinical research to have significant anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and analgesic properties in animal models(8).
The potential of cannabinoid therapy in pain relief has been widely discussed following the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptors.
The three components of the endocannabinoid system are the G-protein-coupled receptors, neurotransmitters, and enzymes involved in the inactivation and synthesis of ligands.
The numerous components of peripheral nerve terminals have been identified and mapped into the regions of the brain that are important for the control of pain perception and sensation.
This process, known as anti-nociception, has the potential to diminish the sensitivity of the neurons to damaging or painful stimuli by decreasing their sensitivity.
There are no conclusive clinical trials conducted to determine whether CBD may aid muscle rehabilitation. On the other hand, the effects of systemic cannabis on pain have been demonstrated to be anti-nociceptive in nature, according to research.
According to preliminary preclinical studies, CBD may help protect against inflammation and enhance the healing of traumatic skeletal injuries(9).
Resistance training can cause severe damage to the skeletal muscle myofibrils and the extracellular matrix. This type of injury, known as exertion-induced muscle damage, can affect muscle function and delay recovery(10).
CBD may reduce the accumulation of immune cells in response to acute inflammation. Studies have shown that CBD may stimulate the production of various anti-inflammatory cytokines(11). Cytokines are proteins that regulate the formation of blood cells, particularly immunological and inflammatory cells(12).
Additional research, however, will be required to confirm these findings in the future.
Moreover, to fully understand the effects of CBD on metabolism, cardiovascular function, and muscle recovery, more conclusive research is needed in these areas.
Well-controlled research in athlete populations is also necessary before conclusive findings on the value of CBD in enhancing athletic performance can be drawn.
Health Benefits of CBD in Muscle Recovery
There are no conclusive studies linking CBD to muscle recovery. However, there are some studies on how CBD may help with issues regarding muscle recovery:
CBD for Inflammation
Inflammation reduction is perhaps the most crucial role CBD plays in muscle recovery.
Inflammation is the body’s response to tissue damage. The inflammatory response is a defense mechanism that evolved to protect higher species from infection and injury(13).
Post-workout muscle damage frequently involves specific muscle regions. At the same time, the inflammatory process affects larger groups of muscles and joints that have not been damaged. The inflammatory response can create collateral muscle and joint damage, slowing rehabilitation.
Studies on the effects of Cannabis sativa plant extracts on the airways of animals with allergic and non-allergic conditions have shown that these compounds may suppress inflammation and prevent allergic reactions(14).
The issue with this technique is that while inflammation exacerbates muscle damage, avoiding inflammation may impair healing. As a consequence, conventional anti-inflammatory treatments are not always helpful and, in some situations, may be dangerous(15).
Thus, CBD, with its anti-inflammatory properties(16), may minimize much of the harmful inflammation without diminishing the health and wellness benefits for recovery.
Therefore, CBD may potentially reduce muscular inflammation without slowing recovery.
CBD for Muscle Tension
Muscle relaxants are drugs that assist in the reduction of muscular spasms, which are uncontrollable muscle contractions produced by a spine-related condition such as low back strain, whiplash, or fibromyalgia. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and may impair movement(17).
However, muscle relaxants like benzodiazepines have side effects that can affect an individual’s athletic performance. These include(18):
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Muscle weakness
- Memory problems
Meanwhile, different doses of CBD have been demonstrated to produce anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant, antioxidant, and anti-psychotropic properties(19).
Thus, CBD may possess therapeutic effects that may help relieve sore muscles and prevent injuries following an intense exercise.
CBD for Sleep
According to one study, sleep deprivation reduces the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increases the activity of degradation pathways, favoring muscle loss(20).
Thus, sleep deprivation may impede muscle recovery following damage caused by injuries, exercise, and certain conditions associated with muscle atrophy, such as cachexia and sarcopenia.
Meanwhile, Sativex, a pharmaceutical formulation with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC, has been studied repeatedly for its sedative effect(21). Sativex has been found in numerous studies to increase both the quality and length of sleep.
One recent research investigated the effects of THC and CBD on sleep. Oromucosal cannabis-based drugs containing predominantly THC or CBD, or a 1:1 combination of the two, have improved sleep quality in patients treated for peripheral neuropathic pain and multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Experiments with THC-dominant extracts show minor stimulating but slight residual drowsiness effects of CBD.
Sativex has demonstrated significant improvement in subjective sleep characteristics in patients with peripheral neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, intractable cancer pain, and rheumatoid arthritis in various Phase I-III studies with 2,000 participants and 1,000 patient-years of exposure(22).
In up to four-year safety extension studies, 40-50 percent of subjects achieved good or very good sleep quality, a primary source of disability in chronic pain syndromes that may contribute to patients’ quality of life(23).
Usage of CBD Oil for Muscle Recovery
Before users start using CBD oil for muscle recovery, individuals must know how much they should take and the different ways to use CBD oil.
Some of the most common ways of administration for CBD oil are as follows:
- Sublingually: Individuals may place a few drops of CBD oil under their tongue and allow the CBD oil to rest there for up to a minute before ingesting the CBD oil or other CBD sublingual products before bed.
- Orally: Users can take CBD oil capsules or mix them with their favorite dish or beverage.
- Topically: Users can apply CBD lotion in the topical form directly to the skin if users have sensitive skin.
- Transdermally: It is possible to administer CBD oil by applying CBD patches to the skin, allowing the compound to permeate the skin and enter the bloodstream more quickly and effectively.
- Inhalation: CBD oil can be inhaled through vape cartridges made from hemp.
Cannabis products for consumers are available in various formats, including CBD tinctures, capsules, gummies, balms, lotions, gels, and bath treatments. Additionally, the hemp oil extract used in various CBD products differs.
While scientists are still discovering how CBD may help people with various conditions, some are still trying to understand CBD’s functionality as an isolated chemical compound versus a whole plant.
For instance, some products are labeled as CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD, and broad-spectrum CBD.
A CBD isolate is a cannabis plant extract that contains only the pure CBD component. CBD isolates can be made from hemp and non-hemp marijuana compounds.
It is vital to remember that CBD oil must be from the hemp compounds to be legal. CBD isolates are available in medical marijuana states.
On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD products contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabiniol (CBN), terpenes, and other compounds such as flavonoids, proteins, phenols, sterols, and esters.
CBN is produced when THC is dried, stored, and heated in cannabis products and may possess anticonvulsant and sedative characteristics(24).
CBG is found in trace amounts in cannabis plants. A 2017 study indicates that this compound may possess anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties(25).
Meanwhile, broad-spectrum CBD oil may contain similar substances to full-spectrum CBD oil. However, broad-spectrum CBD oil products are THC-free.
Cannabis plants may come in various strains and formulations, each with a different level of THC and CBD content(26).
However, due to the lack of evidence on dosage and interval, no validated CBD dosing guidelines are available for muscle recovery.
Several variables can influence the efficacy and safety of cannabis products. Doctors may include recommended THC and CBD levels, dose regimens, or manner of administration on medical authorization forms.
The following factors can influence an individual’s response to cannabis-derived products(27):
- Other drugs, medical problems, prior exposure, age, genetics, and eating preferences of the patient
- Routes of administration, such as inhalation, ingestion, and product formulation
- Concentrations of THC and CBD in the product
There is a variation in the mg/mL concentration of CBD and THC in any CBD oil formulation.
Nonetheless, in general, dosage ranges for CBD applications take the patient’s body weight into account when determining the optimal starting dose(28).
According to research, low dosages of CBD range from 0.5 mg to 20 mg per day, depending on the study’s conclusions(29).
Still, users should seek guidance on the appropriate volume of oil to administer, dependent on the concentration of the CBD oil.
Safeness of CBD Oil for Muscle Recovery
Despite the lack of conclusive scientific evidence to support the use of CBD for various medical conditions, it is important to highlight that CBD‘s effects can be hazardous in some cases(30).
Some of the CBD side effects reported include fatigue, appetite loss, and dry mouth. It is also possible that CBD can harm the central nervous system and liver(31). Muscle tiredness is a common side effect of training for professional athletes. Fatigue is a symptom that the healing process has not yet begun(32).
Thus, it is essential that individuals considering using CBD to help with muscle recovery should consult with their doctor before taking CBD.
Also, topical administration bypasses the gastrointestinal tract and first pass metabolism, resulting in more stable plasma levels(33).
Transdermal CBD may help decrease inflammation and pain, without causing harmful effects, according to the results of animal research published in the European Journal of Pain(34).
Another issue with the labeling of CBD products is that they do not always meet the standards set by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States(35). In a report released in 2020, the agency noted that many of the products tested for CBD content were mislabeled.
The FDA also sent warning letters to four major CBD producers for mislabeling their products. These producers were accused of making false claims about their products’ potential to treat various diseases.
In October 2021, the FDA released a plan to speed up the development of new drugs derived from marijuana(36).
The FDA can take action against companies that make unsubstantiated claims about their products. One example is when a CBD brand claims that its CBD product can cure or treat a diseases(37).
Despite the availability of widely used CBD products, there is still no reliable scientific evidence supporting the use of cannabidiol.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited drugs in 2018(38).
Cannabidiol or CBD oil is no longer forbidden under the S8 Cannabinoids category beginning in 2018.
The removal signifies that the organization acknowledges that CBD is not similar to performance-enhancing medications such as amphetamines, hormones, or illicit substances.
However, CBD produced from cannabis plants may contain trace amounts of THC, which remains illegal(39). Synthetic cannabinoids remain illegal, such as 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Thus, professional athletes who consume CBD without exceeding the trace amounts of THC will not face a ban from tournaments. Ensure that users are familiar with local rules and regulations.
On the other hand, the drug tests used in professional sports cannot identify chemicals in the blood or urine unless they are specifically sought after. The drug tests do not provide a full list of the compounds that are present in the fluid they tested.
Marijuana drug tests may employ synthetic antibodies to detect THC or the metabolites our bodies produce when THC is broken down.
As a result, users will fail a drug test for these compounds solely if they use a supplement containing THC.
Therefore, if professional athletes take CBD, they should choose high-quality CBD products derived from third-party tested CBD isolates rather than full-spectrum hemp oil, which may contain trace quantities of THC.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a nonpsychoactive compound derived from the Cannabis sativa plant.
Although there are many cannabinoids in cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are the two most prominent compounds found in their highest concentrations(40).
Although both of these substances can cause psychoactive effects, CBD does not produce behavioral effects and is not considered to be responsible for the effects of cannabis on humans.
CBD’s therapeutic effects have attracted the attention of other healthcare professionals and athletes(41).
Unlike the psychoactive substance THC, which is commonly used in marijuana, CBD is a non-intoxicating substance that is safe and well-tolerated in humans. CBD has also become available in various countries through over-the-counter CBD products.
How to Choose CBD Products
First-time and experienced CBD users may follow the following tips to verify that they are purchasing high-quality CBD products:
- Choose organic hemp and locally-grown hemp extract from hemp farms committed to environmentally friendly growing practices. Additionally, seek CBD products that contain organic components that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved.
- Take note of the CBD extraction process. Steam distillation, ethanol extraction, natural solvent extraction, and CO2 extraction procedures are just a few of the safe and environmentally–friendly CBD extraction processes employed by CBD producers.
- Seek out a reputable CBD company that uses high-quality CBD extract in its CBD oil products. Examine the certificate of analysis (COA) issued by a third-party lab to ensure that the oil is potent and pure before using it.
- COAs ensure that the CBD brands’ products have non-GMO components and are free of heavy metals, pesticides, and molds, all of which can be harmful to the health of their customers.
- Spend the money on wellness items, such as CBD supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help users relax and sleep better.
- CBD users may opt for businesses that provide a money-back guarantee to their clients.
What Happens to Muscle After Exercise or Workout
Common muscle pains and discomfort may come with working out. After a workout routine, muscle soreness usually begins the next day(42). The term for this type of discomfort is delayed onset muscular soreness (DOMS).
The concept of DOMS is a healthy part of the exercise adaptation process. This issue occurs when individuals push their muscles harder and differently. Over time, this will help the muscles recover and become stronger.
DOMS typically develops within 6-8 hours of beginning a new activity or altering one’s current activity and can linger for up to 24 hours following the exercise. Muscle pain is caused by muscle inflammation, one of the primary causes of muscle soreness.
Conventional Techniques for Muscle Recovery
According to Triathlon Queensland, there is a need for workout recovery to maximize fitness gains, sports performance, and training efficiency(43). Muscle and tissue healing and strength building require recovery after training. Muscles need 24 to 48 hours to heal and regenerate for athletes who train up to or more than twice each day.
Here are some other useful tips provided(44):
1. Consume healthy recovery foods
After exercising, the body needs refueling to recuperate, mend tissues, gain strength, and prepare for the next challenge. Eat within 60 minutes after a workout and include high-quality protein and carbs.
During and after exercise, individuals should replenish their fluids to aid with recuperation. Body metabolism and nutrition transport are supported by water. Endurance athletes sweat a lot and lose a lot of water. Getting enough water will help every physiological function.
Allowing the body to heal naturally is one of the most acceptable methods for muscle recovery. Resting and waiting to enable the body to heal at its own pace.
Gentle stretching helps muscles recover quickly.
5. Activate recovery
Lengthy movement improves circulation, which aids in nutrient and waste product transfer throughout the body, speeding up muscle repair and refueling.
Massages soothe and promote circulation and stretching using self-massages and foam roller activities.
7. Ice bath
Injuries can be avoided by taking ice baths, ice massages, or contrast water treatment (alternating hot and cold showers). Ice baths also help eliminate tissue waste products by continually tightening and dilating blood channels.
During a post-workout shower, alternate 2 minutes of hot water with 30 seconds of cool water. Repeat four times, with a minute of warm temps in between.
8. More hours of sleep
Sleeping well produces growth hormones essential for tissue growth and repair.
9. Visualizing technique
Mindfulness meditation can help individuals process a calm, clear mindset and minimize anxiety and reactivity. Positive self-talk is a good approach for athletes to psychologically and physically recuperate.
10. Avoid excessive training
Excessive exercise, intense training, or lack of rest days will limit the fitness improvements and hinder the recuperation.
How to Avoid Future Muscle Injuries
Though not all injuries are preventable, individuals can still avoid muscle strain or other injuries(45). Historical muscle injury is the strongest predictor of future muscle injury, so preventing any muscle injuries is crucial.
Here are some tips for avoiding future injuries:
- Individuals who exercise should follow a dynamic warm-up and cool-down schedule to ensure that their muscles are properly warmed and cooled.
- Sedentism is bad for the bones and joints as well as general health.
- Lifting big objects requires caution. Keep the back straight and the knees bent to avoid straining the muscles.
- Never ignore the body. Stop doing anything that makes the body uncomfortable or causes the body to move and bend unnaturally.
Most muscle injuries do not necessitate medical attention. Inflammatory drugs, compression, and elevation can reduce muscle pain.
Injury management is often required for more severe injuries, such as those individuals that do not improve with rest and those in highly competitive sports.
When to See A Doctor For Muscle Strain
Strains can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on whether the muscle is stretched, partially ripped, or entirely ruptured(46). A complete muscle tear can result in debilitating discomfort and may require surgery.
Choosing when to seek medical attention for muscle pain might be challenging. Suppose individuals are suffering from any of the symptoms. In that case, individuals should seek medical attention immediately to avoid further muscle damage and to receive the proper treatment. Some symptoms include:
- Muscle pain that persists after self-care and over-the-counter pain medication
- Pain or trouble executing particular actions, such as extending backward, reaching across the body, raising the arm above the head, or holding weight
- A catching, snapping, clicking, or popping sound or sensation occurring when performing particular actions.
- A deformation or irregular shape in the affected area that is readily apparent
- Redness and swelling (a sign of infection) around the affected muscle
- Muscle discomfort that is systemic in nature (pain that occurs throughout the body), which may be indicative of an infection or underlying illness
- Muscle ache as a side effect of medication (such as statins used to control cholesterol)
- Shoulder pain or rotator cuff tear symptoms
- Sleep disturbances or pain that is worse at night
- Good Pain’ Versus ‘Bad Pain’ for Athletes
- Cannabidiol and Sports Performance: a Narrative Review of Relevant Evidence and Recommendations for Future Research
- ‘Good Pain’ Versus ‘Bad Pain’ for Athletes
- Is it safe to take ibuprofen for the aches and pains of exercise?
- Cannabidiol and Sports Performance: a Narrative Review of Relevant Evidence and Recommendations for Future Research
- Cytokines and Their Side Effects
- The anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol and cannabigerol alone, and in combination
- Anti-inflammatory interventions and skeletal muscle injury: benefit or detriment?
- Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol
- Muscle Relaxants for Back Pain and Neck Pain
- Sleeping pills and minor tranquillisers
- Evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of THC-CBD oromucosal spray in symptom management of patients with spasticity due to multiple sclerosis
- Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis
- Cannabis, pain, and sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based medicine
- Chapter 99 – Potential Medical Uses of Cannabigerol: A Brief Overview
- How to help patients find a safe and effective dose
- CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis, page 129
- How Safe is CBD?
- What are the benefits of CBD — and is it safe to use?. MayoClinic.com. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/is-cbd-safe-and-effective/faq-20446700.
- Tips for Avoiding Muscle Fatigue When Exercising
- Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis
- Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products
- FDA Focuses on Safety With the New Cannabis-Derived Product Data Acceleration Plan (DAP)
- 2018 Prohibited List: Summary of Major Changes
- Cannabidiol and Sports Performance: a Narrative Review of Relevant Evidence and Recommendations for Future Research
- Understanding Muscle Soreness – How Much is Too Much?
- THE BEST MUSCLE RECOVERY TIPS
- My Muscle Hurts. Should I Go to the Doctor?
- How Do I Know if My Muscle Pain Requires a Doctor Visit?