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  • Drew Herb Lesser

CBD for Muscle RECOVERY, what does the research say?

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

What Is CBD?

Fitness is a science and according to preliminary research, using CBD in any form after exercise has been shown to aid in muscle recovery, rebalancing, and growth. Numerous present and retired professional athletes recommend CBD oil for post-workout recuperation while researchers continue their studies. CBD-infused topical painkillers are used by some, while others choose to use topical pain relievers with added CBD while others opt for a specially formulated CBD oil tincture for sleep.

But what is CBD exactly, what happens to your body when you exercise, and what are scientists studying when it comes to the use of CBD for muscle recovery?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant. CBD is made up of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive chemical compound found in the same plant, but in a different molecular arrangement. THC substances cause psychotropic effects such as feeling "high," whereas CBD can have beneficial effects on the body without the same psychotropic sensation.

CBD products are made using the CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp plants, which is usually mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut or hemp seed. These extracts can be taken several ways: as a topical cream, in capsules, or in drops placed under the tongue. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), made up of the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. The ECS regulates and controls many of our most critical bodily functions such as learning and memory, emotional processing, sleep, temperature control, pain control, inflammatory and immune responses, and eating.

Building muscle tissue, muscle hypertrophy, through exercise starts with breaking it down. For instance, intense resistance training causes trauma to muscle fibers – essentially micro-tears to the tissues. After your workout, your body works hard to try to repair the muscle fibers beginning the recovery phase, utilising natural growth hormones to initiate hypertrophy.

A great deal of exercise recovery happens during sleep. Sleep lets your body and mind focus invest its energy into recuperation. Muscle gains are a product of breaking down and rebuilding muscle fibers, hence the saying, “no pain, no gain”.

Acute muscle soreness, or AMS, occurs during or straight after your workout, where you feel a tight, fatigued, burning feeling in your muscles. AMS usually fades quickly, and tends not to interfere with life or your next exercise session. Exercises, involving both contraction and lengthening a muscle can result in painful cases of DOMS. Issues with AMS and DOMS, plus joint fatigue are some of the most common reasons people use CBD for recovery.

How does CBD work to reduce muscles soreness?

A study in the International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health found that trained athletes who took CBD post-workout recovered more quickly and also reported significantly less muscle soreness at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours post-workout. The researchers' conclusion was that "CBD appears to have a significant influence on muscle soreness associated with EIMD [exercise-induced muscle damage] DOMS when consumed immediately after strenuous exercise."

The Endocannabinoid Receptors in Action

Further studies suggest that CBD has potential value in improving athletes' sleep quality. Sleep has been shown in numerous studies to have a positive impact on muscle recovery and a negative impact if you're not getting enough of it.

How To Use CBD For Workout Recovery

The study methodology indicates that the CBD should be ingested alongside a post workout protein shake, and a repeat dose may be taken sublingually later in the day or the next day, as needed.

Sublingual ingestion provides an effective bio-availability route, as the oil is absorbed through the mucous membrane under your tongue. The dense network of capillaries provides the increased absorption of the CBD to your bloodstream.

CBD creams, and topical oils work well for post-workout treatment as the skin contains sufficient ECS receptors to react with the CBD.

Is CBD Safe For Athletes?

Though CBD has not been shown to be harmful, there may be mild side effects, such as changes in digestive function, drowsiness, dry mouth, and appetite fluctuations, among others. It is important to note that each person can react differently to different chemical compounds, and therefore there are some people who will experience side effects more accurately than others. Correct dosage is a key imperative in effective treatment using CBD. It is also important to note that, full spectrum extracts contain tiny (but detectable) amounts of THC. Broad spectrum and isolated CBD products contain no detectable THC.


  • Research has identified that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain resulting the promotion of serotonin and anxiolytic responses and significant anti inflammatory effects.

  • CBD products might be able to offer relief for many people who suffer from muscle related pains, all without causing drug intoxication and dependence and other unpleasant side effects. There is anecdotal evidence to support the many benefits of CBD and Medical Cannabis as a treatment protocol for muscle inflammation.



This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and is provided for educational purposes only. It should not be relied on as health or personal advice. The author is NOT a Doctor. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.


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