People’s health can be maintained and promoted through many things. Sport is an important part of this. Indeed, physical exercise plays a major role in maintaining health, especially in relation to the muscles. It is well known that muscle recovery after sport plays an important role in the process of muscle building.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the best known and most important components of the cannabis plant, in fact, it does not produce any psychoactive effects. This article reports on how CBD could help in muscle recovery after sports.

Sore muscles

After an intensive physical workout, aching muscles usually follow the next day. The reason to this is that someone unaccustomed to eccentric exercises (active motion of a muscle while it is lengthening under load), leads to injury in the muscle fibres.

To heal these injuries, inflammatory substances are flushed out of our body and the damaged parts are rebuilt. During this process people may perceive the well-known muscle soreness. However, pain can be evoked by palpation, stretch and muscle contraction, for this reason, it should be called tenderness, rather than a soreness. This condition can persist for 4-5 days[1].

Many people stretch their muscle groups before and after training in order to prevent or reduce muscle soreness. However, evidence suggests that it does not produce any reduction in delayed-onset muscle soreness in healthy adults[2]. Therefore, in order to ensure a better regeneration after sports, CBD might be very interesting for athletes and sports physicians.

How can CBD help to the muscles regeneration?

The human body possesses an endocannabinoid system (ECS), comprising endogenous ligands (endocannabinoids) and receptors. These receptors also work with cannabidiol or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two main active components found in the cannabis plant, also called exogenous cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids. The interaction causes changes in the cells of many tissues, essentials for the normal functioning of the whole body.[3]

Through this interaction, cannabidiol has shown the ability to produce many healing and calming properties. Concerning with sport, however, it is advisable to primarily focus on the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, given by the inhibition of the pro-inflammatory NF-kB signalling[4]. Due to its anti-inflammatory potential, the regeneration of the muscles can progress faster, and the muscle soreness can then be prevented.

Cannabidiol can be taken in many different forms, whether oil, cream, capsule or tea. In order to relieve sore muscles, it is best to use a cannabidiol balm or cream and place it directly on the affected muscle area. Many studies have shown a big concentration of endocannabinoid receptors (CB1/CB2) on the skin, and because of this, cannabinoids like CBD can be easily absorbed through the skin. The interaction results in suppression of inflammation of resident and infiltrating immune cells[5].

CBD, sleep and muscle recovery

During the night, the body’s own growth hormones are released, which lead to muscle growth. In addition, the repair mechanisms of small injuries in the muscles (muscle soreness) is most efficient during sleep.

Consequently, the better the sleep is, the better these mechanisms can work against the wounds. In general, muscle recovery can be affected by sleep restriction/deprivation[6].

In addition to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD, evidence points towards a calming effect. As a consequence, a better feeling of well-being is triggered (anti-anxiety), followed by better sleep. Athletes can take advantage from this effect because the muscle recovery process would be accelerated[7].

In conclusion, CBD may help in faster muscle regeneration after sports through its anti-inflammatory properties and by also improving sleep. Through faster regeneration, the body can handle new tasks a lot more efficiently with less handicap. Since many professional athletes are already benefiting from the use of this substance, more and more amateur athletes are now discovering the positive properties of CBD for themselves. Nevertheless, further studies should be undertaken to further investigate the complete process behind the action of CBD on muscle recovery.

Did you like the post? Give us some feedback! This post has been done based on existent research to the date of publication of the article. Due to the increase in studies based on medical cannabis, the information provided can vary over time and we’ll keep informing in further writings.

[1]Proske, U. (2005). Muscle tenderness from exercise: mechanisms? The Journal of Physiology, 564(1), 1–1. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2005.085514

[2] Herbert, R. D., de Noronha, M., & Kamper, S. J. (2011). Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004577.pub3

[3] Lu, H.-C., & Mackie, K. (2016). An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biological Psychiatry, 79(7), 516–525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028

[4] Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A. G., Czifra, G., … Bíró, T. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(9), 3713–3724. doi:10.1172/jci64628

[5] Bíró, Tamás et al. “The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities.” Trends in pharmacological sciences vol. 30,8 (2009): 411-20. doi:10.1016/j.tips.2009.05.004

[6] Shannon, Scott et al. “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.” The Permanente journal vol. 23 (2019): 18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041

[7] Dattilo, M et al. (2011). Sleep and muscle recovery: Endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses, 77(2), 220–222. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2011.04.017