Guest author, Dr. Veronica Jow, founder of Avid Sports Medicine, is a board-certified Internal Medicine and Sports Medicine physician.
Every athlete knows that pursuing one's passion often comes with discomfort. Muscle pain and soreness can sometimes feel like an unwanted sidekick, whether you're a weekend warrior, a casual jogger, or an avid cyclist. Luckily, a natural solution can alleviate these symptoms and promote faster recovery - CBD products.
The term CBD, short for cannabidiol, has been floating around in health circles, creating waves for its potential healing properties. Extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant, CBD distinguishes itself from THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound associated with the psychoactive “high” in marijuana. While THC has its therapeutic qualities, CBD offers a world of benefits without the intoxicating effects, making it more accessible to a broader range of people, especially those seeking relief from muscle pain.
What Causes Muscle Pain?
Pushing our bodies, especially during intense physical activities, creates microscopic tears in our muscle fibers. This is a good thing. It's how muscles grow stronger. However, this process can lead to inflammation and soreness, commonly known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Other factors like muscle strain, sprains, or underlying health conditions can also contribute to muscle pain.
Muscle Pain is Not Just a Post-Workout Woe
Muscle pain isn’t solely a post-exercise complaint. Its causes are multifaceted:
- Tension and Stress: Chronic stress can manifest physically, creating knots and tension spots, particularly in the neck and shoulders.
- Injuries: Direct traumas can cause immediate, acute pain, which, if untreated, might become chronic.
- Medical Conditions: Diseases like myofascial pain syndrome and conditions such as muscle cramps lead to persistent discomfort.
- Medication Side Effects: Some medicines, especially statins, can induce muscle pain as a side effect.
While many treatments are available for muscle pain, the popularity of CBD products has grown exponentially among athletes of all ages.
What Exactly is CBD?
CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. The Cannabis sativa plant hosts more than 100 identified cannabinoids. These compounds interact with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates various physiological processes, including pain sensation, inflammation, and immune response. This interaction can lead to multiple beneficial effects on the body.
CBD used in therapeutic products usually undergoes a meticulous extraction process. Producers use methods like CO2 extraction to separate CBD and other essential compounds from the plant material. Once extracted, it undergoes further purification to ensure the removal of any unwanted substances, resulting in the high-quality CBD found in oils, tinctures, and other products.
Can CBD Help Fight Muscle Pain?
One of CBD's most touted potential benefits is its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation, while a natural and necessary healing response, can be problematic when excessive. Chronic inflammation can lead to prolonged discomfort and is often at the root of persistent muscle pain.
CBD suppresses certain inflammatory mediators through its interaction with the ECS, reducing inflammation and potentially alleviating pain.
Should You Use Topical or Oral CBD for Muscle Pain?
The choice between topical or oral CBD largely depends on personal preference and the nature of the pain.
Topical CBD: Best for localized pain. It targets specific areas, providing relief on the spot.
Oral CBD: Provides overall relief and might benefit chronic pain or overall body discomfort.
Additional Health Benefits Of CBD
Beyond muscle recovery, CBD offers an array of other health benefits:
- Stress and Anxiety Relief: CBD can potentially reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress, aiding in relaxation post-workout.
- Sleep Aid: A good night's sleep is crucial for muscle recovery. CBD might help improve sleep quality.
- Neuroprotective Properties: There's ongoing research into CBD's potential in treating neurological disorders.
Starting a CBD Regimen:
Starting on a CBD journey can be both exciting and overwhelming. Like any other wellness routine, it's essential to approach CBD with knowledge and awareness.
Safety First: CBD is widely recognized for its safety profile. Clinical studies have indicated that even high doses of up to 1,500 mg/day are well-tolerated in humans. However, it's essential to approach it responsibly and be aware of your body's reactions.
Determining the Right Dose: One of the challenges with CBD is that there's no one-size-fits-all dosage. The right amount can vary based on factors like body weight, metabolism, and the pain or discomfort you're trying to address. A general guideline suggests consuming 1-6 mg of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight. Starting with a modest dose of 5-10mg is advisable for newcomers. You can adjust the dosage from there based on your body's response.
Regular Monitoring: It's crucial to monitor how your body reacts to CBD. Keep a journal, note the dosages, and record any changes in pain, mood, or sleep. This can help you adjust and find the optimal dosage more effectively.
Medical Consultation: While CBD is natural and generally safe, always consult a healthcare professional before integrating it into your routine, especially if you are on other medications. Interactions can occur, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
Best Timing for Using CBD in Relation to Exercise
An important aspect to consider when incorporating CBD into your fitness regime is the timing of its use. Understanding when to use CBD, either before or after a workout, can significantly enhance its effectiveness in dealing with muscle pain and aiding recovery.
Using CBD Before Exercise
Pre-workout CBD Use: For some athletes, using CBD before engaging in physical activity can be beneficial. It may help in the following ways:
- Stress Reduction: CBD may help alleviate pre-workout anxiety.
- Enhanced Focus: Some athletes find CBD helpful for focus and calmness before exercising.
However, it is important to note that individual reactions to CBD can vary. Some may find that taking CBD before a workout might cause relaxation to a degree that might reduce the intensity or energy levels needed for certain types of exercise.
Using CBD After Exercise
Post-workout CBD Use: This is where CBD truly shines for most athletes. Post-workout use of CBD can aid in:
- Muscle Soreness Relief: CBD's anti-inflammatory properties can reduce soreness and inflammation post-exercise.
- Aiding Recovery: It might promote faster recovery and improve sleep quality, essential for muscle repair.
Whether used pre- or post-workout, CBD can be a significant addition to your exercise routine, helping in muscle pain management and recovery enhancement. Always consider consulting a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Final Thoughts: Embracing Change and New Possibilities
The world of fitness and athleticism is ever-evolving. New techniques, diets, and supplements continuously emerge, promising better performance and quicker recovery. Among these, CBD stands out, not as a mere trend but as a natural product with potential benefits.
Athletes of all ages will benefit from remaining open to new possibilities. Exploring and incorporating CBD into one's routine might prove essential in overcoming obstacles, pushing boundaries, and achieving new personal bests.
About The Author: Dr. Jow- Founder of Avid Sports Medicine, San Francisco
Dr. Jow, founder of Avid Sports Medicine, is a board-certified Internal Medicine and Sports Medicine physician who believes in empowering patients through state of the art treatments, education, and partnership. Avid Sports Medicine stands as a testament to her vision. Catering to everyone from the casual enthusiast to the professional athlete, the team embodies a holistic approach to health and fitness. Whether you're just starting your fitness journey or are deeply integrated into it, Avid Sports Medicine is dedicated to ensuring everyone can move the way they want with confidence.