Using CBD for exercise is incredibly beneficial to anyone, no matter what exercise level they are at or aiming for. Maybe you’re hesitant about taking CBD or just not sure how it might help you? That makes sense, the stigma and lack of knowledge on the substance can be overwhelming and is not uncommon. This article will give you all the information you need to understand the benefits of CBD to help you prepare and recover from exercise.
CBD Basics and Legality
Let’s look into CBD, first. CBD, short for “Cannabidiol”, is the non-psychoactive substance found in cannabis plants. Based on the 2018 Farm bill, all hemp products containing less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC are federally legal. It specifically legalized all cannabinoids except for Delta-9 THC, which is the psycho-active compound which defines marijuana. CBD products are designed to meet these low Delta 9 thresholds, making them federally legal.
Demonstrating the scientific benefits of CBD has been a slow process through research and studies that are slowly gaining numbers. Through these studies fitness fanatics will be happy to learn that you are actually already naturally taking CBD, so when you use CBD for exercise, it naturally works with your body. In the late 1980’s, your own personal endocannabinoid system (ECS) was first identified. Our blog goes into a little more detail, but in short, cannabinoids are crucial to regulate all of your body’s systems. Sometimes your ECS is thrown out of whack, as with other systems in your body, this is where CBD comes in. Since it is another naturally-occurring cannabinoid, CBD can help naturally regulate your system when it gets out of balance. This specifically includes benefits to reduce inflammation which can have a direct impact on exercise prep and recovery.
Read more on the all the basics of CBD here.
Full Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum
There are three main versions of CBD extracts available when you purchase CBD products; Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate. When choosing your CBD for exercise product, this is one of the things to consider, especially if you are looking for products without any trace of THC. Of course, all CBD products will contain less than 0.3% of Delta 9 THC. CBD Isolate products will only contain CBD and no THC. So, if you are choosing to use CBD for exercise in your professional career, CBD Isolate is probably what you should lean towards. Below we will look just a little deeper into each of these three extracts. Most CBD topicals which is a common product type for post-workout recovery or muscle & joint pain relief are using CBD isolate.
Full Spectrum CBD
Full Spectrum CBD is one of the most effective product types because it involves all of the cannabinoids including THC, CBD, terpenes, and flavonoids. When choosing a Full Spectrum CBD product, you are choosing this to experience the “Entourage Effect”, which means that all of the cannabinoids are working together to create stronger effects than Broad Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate.
Full Spectrum CBD does, in fact, contain trace amounts of Delta 9 THC, but it will always be 0.3% or less, making it federally legal. While it does contain some Delta 9 THC, any Full Spectrum CBD product will not be strong enough to give you any significant psychoactive effects but might show up on a drug test. So, if you are using CBD for exercise, you’re fine (check with your job, of course), but if you take drug tests as a professional athlete, you probably want to consider using a CBD Isolate or Broad-Spectrum product.
If you’d like to delve a little deeper into Full Spectrum CBD, read more in our blog article here.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad Spectrum CBD is also very effective when it comes to product strength. Broad Spectrum is considered the specific formulation area between Full Spectrum and CBD Isolate. Broad Spectrum products often have had THC completely removed. Since some of the cannabinoids are still included, the “Entourage Effect” is still being experienced when using these products.
For deeper knowledge on Broad Spectrum CBD, check out our blog post here.
In short, yes. All products containing less than 0.3% Delta 9 THC are federally legal.
If you are strictly using CBD Isolate, then yes. If there are even trace amounts of THC in your product (Full Spectrum) you could fail a drug test although it is extremely rare. The trace amounts are designed to be safe for drug tests, but if you are concerned, use a CBD isolate or Broad Spectrum product that say “THC-Free”.
CBD is associated with sleepiness because of it’s ability to relax you through creating equilibrium in your systems. Some “Sleepy” branded CBD products also contain the hormone, melatonin, which in a different way, is designed to help your body enter a sleep cycle.
CBD As a Pre-Workout
Pre-workout routines are pretty dang important. If you’re like me, you didn’t know that until now. People that exercise and take it seriously know that creating a pre-workout routine is crucial to a good workout, even if that just means fueling your body in preparation for the workout. The consensus for a pre-workout routine definitely, and sometimes solely, involves a pre-workout supplement or some sort of food that is equipped with the essential nutrients you’ll need for your workout. In short, these foods and supplements will contain nutrients that boost your energy and focus levels.
Adding CBD to your pre-workout “routine” can be beneficial, regardless of if it’s just supplements or if you also do the “important” things like stretching and warming up. You’ve already read up on what CBD is and does, but how is it beneficial to a pre-workout routine? CBD can help supplement your energy levels in your body and also help you focus. Though you may immediately think of anything around cannabis* being “relaxing”, studies have shown that isn’t necessarily the case. This study revealed that cannabis can actually promote energy. The study showed that “cannabis consumption was associated with higher levels of physical activity”. CBD can also encourage focus by creating mental clarity. Studies have shown that CBD helps with anxiety and depression because of the positive reaction of the serotonin receptors in your brain. The emotional and neurological benefits can be read about more in depth in this study.
*Cannabis refers to the cannabis plant, which may come in the form of hemp (used for CBD products) or marijuana
While we are on the “emotional benefits” of CBD topic, let’s chat mental health. Mental health is a really popular reason for people to start (and continue) exercising. Whether it’s the mental clarity you can get during a workout or if you’re just riding the serotonin wave post workout, it’s a pretty good high. (See what I did there?) Or maybe you need to get into the mental clarity space before your workout (like we talked about before). When you begin using CBD as a pre-workout and as a daily supplement (think of it as a vitamin) then you can boost those clear-headed and stress-free feelings.
Of course, everything related to cannabis is still being studied and researched; the main object here is to listen to your body and know how your body reacts to different products, doses, and even brands. One way to do this is to measure the success of your CBD. How do you know if CBD is working? There are at least 5 steps to make sure you can measure the impact. Remember, give it time, be patient, and listen to your body when it comes to starting CBD.
If you do decide to introduce CBD into your pre-workout routine, make sure when you are choosing your product that you take it at the right time. Each type of CBD product will take different amounts of time to take effect in your body. For example, edibles such as gummies, capsules, and chocolates could take between 30 minutes to an hour for your body to feel the effects. If you choose oils or tinctures, these are taken sublingually, meaning the CBD will get into your bloodstream a lot quicker, in about 10 minutes. Read the labels of your products for how long it will take effect and then personalize according to when you will be exercising.
CBD For Recovery
The exercise is over (THANK GOODNESS), now what? You’re probably sore, no matter what fitness level you are or what shape you are in. Your body feels sore after exercising because of “delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)”. DOMS is the “product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears” in your muscles. The study also states that you will start feeling muscle soreness approximately 6-8 hours after an exercise, peaks at about 48 hours after and can last for days.
Now, let’s think back…what is CBD good for? INFLAMMATION! Right! Post workout muscle soreness is inflammation in the muscles, CBD is great for reducing inflammation. By using a CBD product after a workout can help reduce that soreness you feel. Alright, remember what else the study said? Muscle soreness can come about beginning at 6 hours afterwards and will peak at around 48 hours. When you time the use (intake or application) of your chosen CBD product, you can begin to combat that ridiculous soreness.
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CBD Product Types
I don’t need to tell you how awesome the world of CBD is, but I do need to tell you my favorite thing about it is that there is a product type for just about everyone. From edibles to oils to topicals, however you want to take CBD, you will find a way that works for you.
Understandably, this word is often associated with weed or things that make you “high”, I assure you this is not the case with CBD edibles. Choosing edibles as a way to get CBD into your body is usually an easier and quicker approach to taking your CBD. It’s also a more fun way since CBD edibles come in things like a whole array of “candy” gummies, fruit tarts, and even chocolate (some are sugar-free if you are opting for that route). If candy (or flavor at all) isn’t your thing, possibly you are taking it in the morning and just don’t want a harsh sugar or fruit flavor, then capsules are a great way to take your CBD and get on with your day. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my fellow coffee drinkers, yes, that’s right, there’s even CBD coffee. I told you; the realm of CBD products is fun!
Keep in mind when you are searching for your perfect CBD for exercise product (or products!) that some are designed to help you wake up and get going and others are meant to be taken at night time to promote a restful sleep. Night time products are usually paired with melatonin or say words like “relax”, so be sure to check the product or talk to one of our team members!
Oils and Tinctures
While we are on the subject of “edibles”, let’s talk about oils and tinctures. Now, this is a whole different category because, well, you don’t “drink” it. I mean you can, but, let me explain. CBD oils and tinctures are great because taking them sublingually (like we talked about earlier in this blog) helps give them a boost to getting into our bloodstream quicker. This helps you feel the effects sooner. If you are using CBD as a pre-workout, then these types of products might be more in your wheelhouse because of how quick they work. In some cases, oils and tinctures can be more potent than other types of CBD products.
In some cases you might want to add this type of product into a drink (or food), which you can! There are many flavors to choose from and you can add it into just about any recipe or drink you can think of, even alcohol! The options are pretty endless. Another thing to remember when adding CBD oil into a drink or food is that since you won’t be taking it sublingually, it may take a little longer to take effect in your body, so plan accordingly.
One of the most popular ways to use CBD for pain management is by using a topical. Topicals, creams, and salves are all applied directly to the spot-of-pain and is absorbed through the skin. Oftentimes, these products also bring on big players like menthol, Manuka honey, and more to accommodate each product. Choosing which of these products will work best for you could be a bit intimidating, you can read some CBD muscle and joint relief cream product comparisons in our blog here. Another (and more fun way, in my opinion) to use CBD for exercise is to use topicals is to venture into the luxurious world of CBD bath products. By mixing the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD and the calming effects of a bath or face mask, you’ll be asking yourself “what soreness?” by the end of it. Exercise-induced soreness just met its match.
I know this is a weird way to start this section, but there are a few ways to get CBD into your body via your lungs. Most athletes probably won’t choose vaping or smoking products because of how harsh they are on the lungs, but they are still viable. You can shop our flower and preroll section here. For vaping, get the juice here and pens here.
What I really wanted to cover in this section is inhalers. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say there might be quite a few avid-exercise enthusiasts that have asthma. There are about 8.3% of Americans that do have asthma and there has to be a percentage of those people that do exercise, so… I’m just saying! In short, asthma is caused by an inflammation of the lungs, CBD helps inflammation, as we all know. CBD inhalers can help relieve that inflammation quickly (instant bloodstream absorption), potently, and less harshly than smoking or vaping. You can shop our deliciously-flavored CBD inhalers here.
Of course CBD has made its way into the celebrity realm. It has made it even further into all levels of sports from trainers to professional athletes (obviously they can’t have any amounts of THC in most cases, so they *probably* use CBD Isolate). Below I’ve gathered a list of athletes with their own personal anecdotes using CBD.
Rachael Rapinoe, professional soccer player and trainer – Self-proclaimed “science geek”, Rapinoe (sister of Megan Rapinoe!) got interested in CBD for exercise well into adulthood while watching her sister and teammates’ road to recovery after games.
Ricky Williams, professional football player and winner of the Heisman Trophy – Williams has spoken at multiple cannabis conferences talking about the number of marijuana-related drug tests that threatened his playing time that inspired him to dig more into holistic medicine and using CBD for exercise to help people with healing their bodies.
Karlie, Jiu-Jitsu and MMA fighter – A personal friend of The Green Dragon CBD, Karlie has an (UBER-)active lifestyle that provides great insight into how incorporating CBD into your daily routine can be very beneficial on various levels.
Rob Gronkowski, professional football player with 3 Super Bowl wins – “Gronk” (as he has been endearingly nicknamed) retired from football after a 9-year NFL career at age 30 (anyone else feeling a little less significant? 😅). After learning that his father was an avid-CBD user, Gronk got into CBD and decided to use his retirement to further his knowledge of CBD.
Shaun Smith and Eben Britton, professional football players – Smith and Britton have been deeply involved in challenging the NFL’s substance policies and battling stigmas. They are advocates for athletes looking for healthier alternatives to painkillers and using CBD for exercise.
Not only have athletes been gathering around using CBD as a healthy lifestyle additive, other celebrities have also fully endorsed the use of CBD and have been battling that stigma.
CBD For Exercise: What Are You Waiting For?
Using CBD for exercise is very beneficial, as we’ve already gone over. The different ways to take CBD, the various and delightful flavors, and the varying levels of potency lend CBD to practically every person. Many people (celebrities, athletes, and the “average joe” alike) have benefited from using CBD products. Choose your product, flavor, and potency and let us know what is working for you in the comments below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, BRIE LOWREY
Brie Lowrey, resident Head of Customer Engagement here at The Green Dragon CBD, is a Kansas City Native now residing in St. Louis. She thrives on keeping up with social media trends, staying up-to-date on CBD news, and sending out office-wide dragon jokes. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Instagram, or read other posts by Brie.