In the past few years, CBD’s popularity within the health community has surged, sparking conversation and curiosity around whether the cannabidiol is simply a fad or a genuine game-changer for people interested in wellness. Regardless, CBD is now being used for everything from treating anxiety to getting rid of acne — and now, fitness buffs are integrating it into their home workout plans, too.
Since 2017, when the World Anti-Doping Agency removed its ban on CBD, it’s become easier for professional athletes to use the anti-inflammatory to help recover from the pain caused by strenuous workouts. But pro gymnasts, cyclists, and basketball players aren’t the only ones who can benefit from adding CBD to their workout plan and you don’t even have to be an avid gym-goer for it to help you meet your fitness goals.
Whether you’re a busy single parent who wants to lose weight or a work-from-home freelancer looking to firm up the flab and build muscle, a good home workout can be a much more manageable way to stay fit— and CBD could give you the extra boost you need.
One of CBD’s main benefits for athletes is its ability to reduce inflammation. Whether you prefer total body exercises, or targeting specific muscle groups like your arms and legs, it’s normal to experience inflammation after a workout (especially if you’re just starting a new routine). Common symptoms are swelling and soreness — for most people these fade away relatively quickly, but for others (especially those with arthritis or other chronic conditions) inflammation can be a persistent problem.
CBD topical creams might offer a promising solution to this as they can be applied to a specific areas for maximum relief. Before you assume that plank position or pick up your set of dumbbells, you can apply the cream directly to your “problem area.” Doing so could help the target area to relax, resulting in a smoother workout.
However, the efficacy of these products remains largely anecdotal: While research has shown that CBD topicals can reduce inflammation in animals, conclusive human tests have yet to be performed. To further complicate matters, we know that topical creams only reach about one centimeter beneath the skin, which isn’t deep enough to reach the sorest muscles. Still, according to neurophysiologist Dr. Gregory Gerdeman, experts are hopeful: “The pain and stiffness that comes post-workout or from overexertion certainly has a pro-inflammatory component to it, so it’s reasonable to think CBD or other cannabinoids might have benefits, but we have no research to support this yet.”
Another commonly-cited benefit of CBD is its ability to relieve pain, which has an obvious appeal for anyone who’s ever pulled a muscle while attempting a deadlift (or a simple crunch, for that matter). By regulating the body’s endocannabinoid system — a network of receptors that controls body functions like pain, mood, and appetite — CBD can provide effective pain relief without the risk of harmful side effects. This has made it popular among people who are seeking a natural alternative to prescription pain medications.
The science, as it often is when it comes to CBD, is split on this subject. Studies have shown that CBD can treat lower back pain effectively — though it should be mentioned that these studies involved oral sprays rather than topicals. While CBD topicals have been shown to be effective at reducing pain in rats, there’s still no conclusive evidence that they work for humans.
One use of CBD that has been proven to be effective in human studies is as an anti-anxiety treatment. While workout-related anxiety is typically more common at the gym than at home, some people still feel self-conscious about doing physical exercise for various reasons. Consuming CBD via vaping or sublingual drops (i.e. small amounts of liquid placed under the tongue) can be a fast-acting, effective way to reduce anxiety and get you in the right mindset for a fun, healthy workout.
CBD won’t magically make your workouts easier — or less sweaty — but integrating it into your home workout routine could result in real benefits. Whether you’re trying to build strength, become a jump rope master, or just get your heart rate up, a good bottle of CBD oil (and a hearty dose of discipline) could be more valuable than a gym membership.