Can Cannabis Help Post-Workout Recovery?

There’s been a lot of buzz about using cannabis is a remedy for several things—sleep, stress, anxiety, muscle tension, headaches, and more! And muscle recovery post-workout is another one that seems to be popular amongst athletes and exercisers who are sore after a HIIT class and need some relief. 

cbd lotion for muscle recovery

Yet, is cannabis actually helpful for recovery? And how best should you use it? We’ve got you covered.

How cannabis impacts recovery 

While some athletes have expressed that taking cannabis in the form of weed has been helpful in recovering after workouts (hello former NFL star Ricky Williams…), unfortunately there isn’t much hard science to back that up. And of course, that means you’re better off sticking to standard recovery procedure, like stretching, protein, and sleep, instead of lighting a joint. 

Yet, there is a form of cannabis without the THC that can be useful—and that’s backed by research. Yes, facts my friends. 

Cannabis, as CBD, can improve muscle soreness and speed repair after a tough workout session. CBD, which people often use in topical or oral form, comes from the cannabis plant, and it can relieve anxiety and lower inflammation that your muscles often experience post-workout. And so you get those feel-good benefits without the “high” you’d get from cannabis, since CBD does not contain the THC that gives that euphoric feeling. So, it’s totally safe and easy to use as a form of muscle recovery.

There is science to back up the claims. According to a 2018 review of 132 original studies published in Frontiers in Neurology, CBD can lower inflammation in the body and help ease pain and enhance mobility in those with multiple sclerosis. So, you can understand how it can also ease pain in those who exercise and need some instant relief on their muscles and joints. 

What’s more, a 2015 study found that topical CBD (which you’d likely use for muscle recovery!) lowered inflammation, swelling, and arthritis-related pain in rats, so that shows more promise that it’ll have the same effects in humans, as well!

How much CBD to have

It’s totally safe to have 1-6 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of body weight, but you can also start with 5-10mg post-workout and see how you feel! And you can go by the guidelines on the label, seeing what is in a typical serving and going from there. Once you start to feel the effects, you won’t need to keep increasing. You can stop and enjoy them! 

How to take CBD for recovery

You can take it as a topical, gummy, or oil, or you can lather it on as a lotion, soothing balm, gel, or massage oil. 

Yet, it’s best to probably go with the topical for muscle recovery specifically since you can spot treat, putting it directly on the muscles and joints that are sore and rubbing it in. Some CBD lotion also has cooling or warming features or other ingredients that act to lower inflammation and ease pain too, like arnica gel, menthol, peppermint, chamomile, lemongrass, and more. (And it smells great after a shower or bath to freshen up!)

The takeaway

Try CBD lotion for recovery out and see if you like it! But take note: you can’t rely solely on CBD for all your recovery needs. You should also stretch, hydrate, eat foods with protein, complex carbs, and electrolytes to boost energy stores and speed muscle repair, and foam roll regularly to fight muscle soreness and prevent injury after exercising.

Yet, you can totally use CBD to supplement all of these and help recovery overall! I enjoy using CBD myself, and I love using CBD lotion after a warm shower—especially those with great smelling ingredients that are soothing and can help relax me further. 

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About Isadora Baum

Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, author, and certified health coach. She writes for various magazines, such as Cooking Light, SHAPE, Men's Health, Women's Health, Health, Prevention, POPSUGAR, Runner's World, Bustle, and more. She is also the author of the book "5-Minute Energy." She can't resist a good sample, a killer margarita, a new HIIT class, or an easy laugh. Beyond magazines, she helps grow businesses through blogging and content marketing strategy.