CBD for Athletes: Enhancing Muscle Recovery and Alleviating DOMS

Discover the Potential Benefits of CBD Oil in Reducing Muscle Soreness and Inflammation After Exercise

CBD for Athletes: Enhancing Muscle Recovery

The use of Cannabidiol (CBD) products is on the rise due to their potential health benefits. CBD can offer a range of advantages, including restoring calm, improving sleep, and alleviating symptoms associated with chronic conditions, such as pain relief and inflammation reduction.

Cannabis has been used for centuries as a pain reliever, particularly for chronic pain, which was one of the first indications for medical cannabis use. This is due to its anti-inflammatory properties, as inflammation is often the underlying cause of many painful conditions.

New research indicates that CBD oil may also help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with muscle recovery following exercise. But before exploring the evidence for CBD oil’s benefits in recovery, it’s essential to understand what happens to the body after exercising.

Post-workout recovery can be painful, with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) being a common phenomenon. Even experienced athletes can experience DOMS caused by microscopic damage to muscle fibres. The resulting inflammation leads to stiffness, aches, and pain for several days after the workout.

While muscle soreness is a normal part of the body’s adaptive process, it can hinder physical capabilities, especially for athletes who can’t postpone games or workouts. CBD oils are gaining popularity for their anti-inflammatory effects in helping manage DOMS and other home remedies and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Is there a special CBD legal status for athletes? 

The legal status of CBD in global sports organisations varies, but it is generally becoming more widely accepted. Here is a summary of the policies of some major sports organisations:

  1. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): As of 2018, WADA removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances, meaning that athletes are allowed to use CBD products.
  2. International Olympic Committee (IOC): The IOC also removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances in 2018, allowing athletes to use CBD products.
  3. Major League Baseball (MLB): In 2019, the MLB removed CBD from its list of banned substances, and players are allowed to use CBD products.
  4. National Football League (NFL): While the NFL still prohibits using marijuana and THC, it has eased restrictions on CBD. In 2020, the league and the NFL Players Association agreed to allow players to use CBD products as long as they contain no more than 0.3% THC.
  5. National Basketball Association (NBA): The NBA also allows players to use CBD products as long as they contain no more than 0.3% THC.

It’s worth noting that the legal status of CBD in sports organisations may be subject to change, and it’s always a good idea to check with the specific organisation for the most up-to-date information.


The reasons why sports enthusiasts and athletes use CBD products can vary, but here are 10 of the most common reasons:

  1. Pain relief: CBD may help to relieve pain associated with injuries, sore muscles, and chronic conditions.
  2. Inflammation reduction: CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation and promote faster recovery.
  3. Anxiety and stress relief: CBD may help reduce anxiety and stress levels, which can benefit athletes who may experience performance anxiety or stress during competitions.
  4. Improved sleep: CBD may help improve sleep quality, essential for athletes who need adequate rest for recovery and optimal performance.
  5. Muscle recovery: CBD may help promote muscle recovery after exercise, leading to faster healing and less soreness.
  6. Joint health: CBD may help to support joint health by reducing inflammation and promoting mobility.
  7. Neuroprotection: CBD may have neuroprotective properties, which can benefit athletes at risk for head injuries and other neurological conditions.
  8. Improved focus and concentration: CBD may help improve focus and concentration, which can benefit athletes who need to stay focused during training and competitions.
  9. Reduced nausea: CBD may help reduce nausea and vomiting, a common side effect of certain medications and treatments.
  10. Anti-doping compliance: CBD is legal in many sports organisations, which means that athletes can use CBD products without fear of failing drug tests or facing penalties for doping.

CBD is Not Considered a Performance Enhancing Drug

According to various international anti-doping agencies and governing bodies in sports, CBD is not classified as a performance-enhancing drug (PED). While there may be combined benefits to using CBD oil and exercising, it doesn’t affect the body in the same way as anabolic steroids or stimulants, which give athletes an unfair advantage.

Initial research suggests CBD may support the body’s recovery after intense physical activity, making it valuable for fitness enthusiasts. However, there are limitations to these studies, such as small sample sizes and dosage variations, which require more extensive investigation to determine CBD’s full benefits in combination with exercise.

Furthermore, CBD may have the opposite effect of stimulants and large servings before or during exercise may not work well together. Despite this, a growing number of professional athletes such as Lolo Jones, Rampage Jackson, Daniel Cormier, and Jorge Masvidal have publicly discussed using CBD in their sleep and recovery routines. Cormier praised CBD for helping him recover during a short-notice heavyweight championship defence fight, citing improved rest, better sleep, and faster recovery times.

Questions and Answers

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about incorporating CBD into workout routines and their answers:

 CBD oil, particularly tinctures and capsules, can be viewed as a supplement for wellness and recovery. Many fitness enthusiasts and athletes claim that CBD can help with muscle tension and relaxation, among other benefits. However, more research is required to determine how CBD and exercise enhance overall health and fitness. Additionally, serving size, body mass, metabolism, and diet can affect how CBD interacts with the body, and its potential interactions with other supplements and medications still need to be fully understood. Experts recommend that beginners start with small servings of CBD and gradually increase the dosage to achieve the desired effects.

Athletes often use CBD to aid in relaxation and muscle recovery. Many prefer plant-based products rather than synthetic options to supplement their workouts. While most people think of oils designed for oral use when they think of CBD, there is a wide range of products specifically formulated for exercise and CBD use. For example, CBD oil with melatonin is a great option for recovery and sleep.

While more research is needed, CBD may assist with muscle recovery and aid in muscle building. It is essential to conduct further investigation to confirm this effect. Athletes often use CBD products such as Freeze with menthol to alleviate pain and soreness in joints and muscles to complete their whole workout. 

Generally, CBD products are most effective as part of your post-workout and sleep routine. However, topical products work well at any point in your workout routine. Many athletes take a small supplemental serving of CBD in CBD capsules, CBD oil tinctures, or CBD gummies as part of their morning routine. Athletes seeking optimal recovery may want to try CBD bath bombs, as mixed martial artists like Rampage Jackson favour them.

 Most governing sports bodies and policymakers now allow the use of CBD for training purposes. However, just a few years ago, this was not the case. WADA and some other sports authorities still prohibit THC and other cannabinoids. Athletes must only use cannabis extract products that are THC-free to avoid being banned.

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Tips and advice 

For athletes, both professional and non-professional, there are a few CBD consumption tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start with a small serving size and gradually increase:
    It’s essential, to begin with a small serving of CBD and gradually increase until you reach your desired effects. Everyone’s body reacts differently to CBD, and finding the correct serving size that works for you is crucial.
  2. Use CBD as a wellness and recovery supplement:
    CBD oil, tinctures, and capsules are best used as a wellness and recovery supplement. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts report that CBD supports tense muscles, relaxation at bedtime, and other benefits. However, there’s still much research needed to understand how CBD and exercise can enhance health and fitness.
  3. Choose specialised products:
    Many specialised CBD products are particularly suited for CBD and working out, including topicals, CBD oil with melatonin for sleep, and CBD bath bombs.
  4. Take CBD after working out and as part of your sleep routine:
    CBD products work best as part of your post-workout and sleep routine. CBD bath bombs and topicals work well at any point in your workout routine.
  5. Check for THC content:
    THC and other cannabinoids remain banned by some sports authorities. Therefore, athletes must only choose cannabis extract products that are THC-free.
  6. Consult with a healthcare provider:
    It’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare provider before taking new supplements, including CBD. They can help you determine if it’s safe to take CBD and provide guidance on serving sizes and potential interactions with other supplements and medications.

CBD and safety 

The safety of CBD for athletes is an important consideration, mainly because athletes are subject to drug testing, and the consequences of a positive drug test can be severe.

CBD has been generally well-tolerated in clinical studies and by consumers, with few reports of adverse effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in a 2018 report that CBD is generally well-tolerated and has a good safety profile.

Moreover, the WHO noted that there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the help of pure CBD. This indicates that CBD is not likely to be abused or cause addiction.

Regarding drug testing, it’s important to note that CBD is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) or most other sports authorities. However, THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, is still prohibited by these organisations.

Therefore, athletes should only use CBD products labelled as THC-free and tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure that they do not contain any THC.

It’s also worth noting that CBD can interact with certain medications, so athletes taking prescription medications should consult their healthcare provider before using CBD.

Overall, while more research is needed to understand CBD’s safety and efficacy for athletes fully, the evidence suggests that CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated when used responsibly and by recommended dosages.

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CBD in Sports – future and Potential 

The future of the sports industry with CBD treatments is promising. With the increasing legalisation and acceptance of cannabis and CBD in many parts of the world, more and more athletes are turning to CBD products to aid their recovery and enhance their performance. As research expands, CBD treatments will become more widely accepted and integrated into the sports industry.

One potential future for the sports industry is the development of new CBD-based products specifically tailored to athletes. For example, some companies are already producing CBD-infused sports drinks and energy bars designed to provide athletes with the benefits of CBD in a convenient and easy-to-use format.

Another potential future for the sports industry is the integration of CBD treatments into the mainstream healthcare system. As more research is conducted on the potential health benefits of CBD, CBD treatments could become more widely accepted by healthcare professionals and integrated into traditional healthcare practices.

Overall, the future of the sports industry with CBD treatments is one of potential growth and innovation. As more athletes discover the benefits of CBD and as more research is conducted in this area, we will likely see the development of new and innovative CBD-based products designed to enhance athletic performance and aid in recovery.

CBD and Exercise: Incorporating CBD into Your Daily Fitness Routine

To integrate CBD into your daily fitness regimen, consider the following suggestions.

Start your day with a light breakfast if you prefer to work out in the morning. It is best to avoid beginning strenuous cardio or strength training exercises on a full or empty stomach. Once you complete your workout, you can enjoy a more substantial breakfast while replenishing the simple sugars burned off during your session. Add a serving of your preferred flavoured CBD oil to a fruit smoothie for an extra boost! You can incorporate a CBD capsule into your morning routine if you usually work out later in the day.

If you experience muscle discomfort after your morning workout, a CBD topical can provide relief. Additionally, if you exercise during lunchtime, try consuming a homemade CBD protein bar before or after training. You can also add CBD to your shake or smoothie for a daily serving of CBD.

After completing your workout, take some time to unwind and relax before dinner. If you usually exercise in the evening, incorporate CBD bath bombs into your routine to enhance the “runner’s high” while soothing your muscles and joints. However, try to have dinner early enough in the evening. Remember that CBD is not a conventional sleeping peel.

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