CBD Oil And Exercise

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It won’t give you superhero strength, but it may have some positive effects for recovery. Here's what you need to know about CBD oil and exercise. According to the experts at Holistic Herb

3 Things You Should Know About Taking CBD Before Exercise

The buzz behind CBD (short for cannabidiol, a chemical found in the cannabis plant) continues to grow, largely due to its ability to treat anxiety (which can definitely come in handy for those pre-Spartan race jitters) as well as its role in easing chronic pain . But while most research around CBD and pain is related to those with conditions like arthritis and severe joint pain, the mechanism in which CBD works may help athletes before they get to a place of pain. Here’s what you need to know about CBD oil and exercise, plus which type of CBD will be the most beneficial for your training.

CBD Oil and Exercise: What You Should Know

CBD May Help Inflammation

“While CBD may have some pain-relieving properties, it is much more of an anti-inflammatory agent,” says Matthew Mintz, MD , a board-certified internist based in Bethesda, MD. “Inflammation, especially in joints, can lead to pain.”

So while CBD won’t be able to ease muscle-related pain, it can help with joint issues such as arthritis or osteoarthritis by keeping inflammation down if taken prior to exercising. And — while depending on your age you may think you’re immune to joint issues — osteoarthritis happens when tissue at the end of a bone (like the knee) starts to wear down. This means that over time, any Spartan can become susceptible to joint pain simply from wear and tear on their body over the years.

CBD May Need Time to Kick In

Particularly if you’re taking it for anxiety that’s related to your training or an upcoming Spartan race.

“CBD works in a variety of ways on the brain that then effects how our chemical messengers send signals,” says Mintz. “This is similar to how antidepressants work, but through a slightly different mechanism, and without the side effects drugs often come with.”

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But there IS a catch: You can’t take CBD an hour before a workout or race and expect to feel better.

“Some patients have stated they feel better soon after taking CBD, but it usually takes a week or so to fully kick in” says Mintz. “If you’re trying to reduce anxiety before a race, I would recommend starting CBD at least a week before.”

Start taking it before exercising to help mimic race day, and see if over time you feel more mellow and centered during training.

“Unlike THC [short for tetrahydrocannabinol, another chemical found in the cannabis plant], there is no psychoactive impact of CBD, so it’s very safe,” says Mintz.

This means that even if you don’t see improvement at first — or even over a week — there are no issues with continuing to take it as long as you stick to the recommended dose (this can be anywhere between 15 mg to 50 mg, depending on the type of CBD).

The Type of CBD You Use Matters

“CBD can come from marijuana, but most of the CBD popping up all over the place comes from hemp , which is a very similar plant with almost no THC,” says Dr. Mintz.

Similar to marijuana, hemp is legal in the U.S., but neither are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means choosing what kind of CBD to buy is extremely important.

“There are a number of factors to consider, (such as the growing practices, whether or not the product is organic, contains no GMOs or pesticides, etc.) but the most important one is that the CBD you use is verified by an independent third-party lab so you know exactly what you are getting without contaminants or impurities,” says Mintz.

Make sure to purchase CBD from a licensed dispensary or check the label (or item description if you’re buying a product online) to verify if it has been lab-tested.

How CBD Could Affect Your Workout

From pre-workout to protein powders, we’re always looking for products to upgrade our exercise regimes – but when it comes to CBD, it’s still early days. Having only been legal in the UK since 2018, studies around its effects are ongoing, and there hasn’t yet been enough time to conduct in-depth research about long-term use.

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That said, initial indications are promising, with anecdotal evidence linking CBD to better sleep, reduced anxiety and muscle relaxation – all of which sound pretty great after a long run or heavy weights session. So we asked an expert what we do know so far about the connection between CBD and exercise, to help you make an informed choice when it comes to trying it for yourself.

How might CBD impact performance?

There are a couple of fundamental reasons why CBD could be beneficial for exercise – and as with most movement, it all starts with mobility. ‘Pre-clinical animal model studies have looked at the treatment of arthritis with CBD,’ says Liam McGreevy, director at premium CBD brand Holistic Herb. ‘They found that oral and topical CBD may help to reduce inflammation and promote repair in joints, so it’s reasonable to expect that CBD could be beneficial for joint mobility.’

‘CBD can also improve blood flow and subsequent oxygen supply, and removal of waste,’ he adds. ‘This reduces blood pressure, which can improve stress and anxiety.’ This means there could be mental benefits here, as well as the physical perks, which may help with getting into the zone ahead of a big race or competition and help you to focus on hitting your PB.

Can you use CBD for workout recovery?

Topical CBD creams can be effective in treating pain and inflammation in specific areas such as joints or muscles, and may be useful for reducing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). On a broader scale, CBD is also thought to support better sleep, which is crucial for your body in many ways, but particularly to boost recovery from physical stress. McGreevy notes that this snooze-related advantage seems to be dose-dependent, so it’s important to find the right level for your needs.

‘You can also use CBD oil drops, sprays or capsules to aid recovery, but whichever option you choose, it’s better to choose a product with improved bioavailability, which helps to ensure the maximum amount of CBD makes it to the bloodstream and is delivered around the body,’ he explains. Holistic Herb’s line has total bioavailability, with over 15 times more of the active CBD in its products being fully absorbed compared to many other products on the market.

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Should you take CBD before or after your workout?

This is really a personal choice, as there are benefits to both options. ‘Before your workout, CBD may help maximise performance by reducing stress, improving oxygen delivery, reducing inflammation and pain signalling, and promoting mobility,’ McGreevy says. ‘Post-workout, it could help to improve muscle recovery, reduce muscle and joint inflammation, and improve sleep recovery.’

If you want quick results before hitting the gym, look for products designed to be held under the tongue, as these can be delivered faster through the sublingual blood vessels. Products that are ingested will take longer to reach the bloodstream via the stomach and liver, and are more suited to a longer-term, but more sustained delivery.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t be using CBD to support their workouts?

‘Care should be taken when using other medication, as interaction with the enzymes in the liver may slow their breakdown and release,’ McGreevy warns. ‘It is also advised that you don’t use CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding, as its impact on the development of the foetus and baby is not yet understood.’

‘It takes time to find an effective dose, and while there is strong pre-clinical evidence for its effect on blood pressure, stress and anxiety, and inflammatory response, it may be that CBD does not provide effective pain relief for some,’ McGreevy adds. Check with a doctor if you have any concerns around your CBD use, and follow recommended dosage guidelines to see if it can make a difference for you.

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