When you hear “CBD,” you likely think of the chemical compound’s calming and therapeutic effects and its reputation as an effective sleep aid. So, it may come as a surprise that many people use CBD as part of their fitness regimen. But what does it mean to use CBD to enhance your workouts, and does it really work?
Can Using CBD Improve Workout Performance?
Many weight lifters and endurance trainers take supplements like protein powder to improve their energy levels and support muscle building. In recent years, some exercise enthusiasts and even pro athletes have begun experimenting with CBD as a pre-workout supplement.
Setting aside pain-relief for a moment, can CBD improve your workout performance? It’s possible, but the evidence is primarily anecdotal at the moment, and the effects of CBD on exercise are indirect.
For example, many CBD users tout the sleep-enhancing benefits of CBD. Proponents of using CBD to improve workouts argue that better sleep gives you more energy, pushing you to make the most of your workouts. Again, there’s limited research, but CBD may also directly increase energy, alertness, and focus, making it easier for exercisers to get in the “zone” when they hit the gym.
Can CBD Relieve Pain from Exercise Injuries?
Using CBD products for pain relief after a workout is a far more established science than using it as a pre-workout performance booster. For years, professional athletes have advocated for using CBD for pain management instead of drugs with a high risk of addiction and dependence.
CBD oils and tinctures offer a variety of benefits for physically active adults. No matter how careful you are during your workouts, intense exercise can lead to discomfort and pain. Some of the most common exercise-induced injuries include:
- Muscle pulls
- Knee pain
- Wrist strains
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Back strain
- Sprained wrists and ankles
Routine use of CBD can reduce the inflammation associated with these injuries as well as chronic pain. CBD works by stimulating the endocannabinoid system, a network of millions of small protein receptors. When CBD binds to endocannabinoid system receptors, it creates an anti-inflammatory response with pain-relieving effects.
Moreover, CBD has significant advantages over pharmaceuticals used for serious injuries and chronic pain. CBD products do not include THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, so you can use CBD without experiencing any high.
And, as stated by the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” For this reason, many people experiencing chronic pain opt to try CBD as an alternative to opioids or other habit-forming medications.
Is Routine CBD Use Dangerous for Physically Active People?
While addiction might not be an issue, that doesn’t mean CBD use doesn’t come without potential side effects or problems. For starters, CBD products aren’t regulated. If you aren’t careful about where you buy your CBD, reading labels, checking for third-party testing, and reading customer reviews, you may end up with subpar products that don’t have the desired effects.
Furthermore, CBD impacts everyone differently. Currently, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that CBD is any more “dangerous” for athletes and physically active adults than anyone else. However, some potential side effects may indirectly influence your physical performance, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Intestinal problems
- Dry mouth
It’s also important for athletes to note that the World Anti-Doping Agency took CBD off its list of prohibited substances in 2018, but THC remains banned by organizations and state governments.
How to Add CBD to Your Physical Routine
If you decide to start using CBD to improve your performance or help manage pain, you have plenty of options for consumption and topical use. CBD products come in wide varieties, from oils and tinctures to gummy edibles. Explore what’s out there and what works for you and your exercise routine.