We have previously discussed (over on the main BLOCKHEAD blog) how you can get the most out of your run by using caffeine as part of your pre-run routine. This time, we're going to take a look at how you can improve your post-run routine with the help of CBD.
Every runner has their own cool-down routine that keeps their muscles loose and helps them recover, but there's always room for an addition to your routine to help minimize delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and next-day fatigue, as well as to help you rest and relax after a run. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive extract of the cannabis plant that has quickly gained immense popularity around the world, including among professional athletes. Many runners and other athletes implement CBD into their post-workout routines because they find it aids muscle recovery, reduces joint pain, and promotes rest after a workout. But despite its popularity, the recent entrance of CBD products into the market means that very little actual research has been done on the potential benefits of CBD. Here we'll take a look at the benefits runners around the world are attributing to CBD and relate these to what has actually been confirmed by research, so that you know exactly how CBD can help push you towards a quicker recovery time.
A Brief History of CBD
Despite being discovered 80 years ago, the mechanism of action of CBD (i.e., the full extent of the biological pathways it interacts with in the body) is still unknown. What is known is that CBD interacts in part with the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in such processes as learning, memory, behaviour, mood, emotion, and motivation. CBD comes from the cannabis plant, the same plant responsible for the psychoactive drug THC, but unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high. Medicinal uses of pure CBD approved by the UK National Health Service and the US Food and Drug Administration are currently restricted to its use in treating two rare forms of epilepsy, but its sale as a non-medicinal product has skyrocketed in recent years, largely due to wide reporting by consumers of health benefits that have yet to be confirmed by research.
What the Runners Say
CBD's involvement in the endocannabinoid system has led many to assume that it can increase mood and reduce anxiety because of the endocannabinoid system's role in controlling mood and motivation-related emotions. Incidentally, natural levels of endocannabinoids in the body are increased during exercise, leading to the mood boost you likely know and love as a runner's high. Many runners cite CBD as helping them sleep more deeply, resulting in better rest and better running performance the next day. One common thread found throughout runner anecdotes is that CBD helps to mitigate chronic pain associated with exercise-related injuries, from meniscus tears and other knee injuries to back pain. Its use as a replacement for ibuprofen in relieving both chronic pain and DOMS is also gaining popularity, and these effects have been most recognizable for ultrarunners and other long-distance runners.
What the Research Says
Although the only currently approved medicinal use of CBD is for treating epilepsy, there is a substantial—but young—body of research on the benefits of CBD use. CBD is known to be anti-inflammatory and can reduce arthritic pain. Since DOMS arises after a workout as a result of muscle inflammation, CBD can act directly as a muscle recovery aid. CBD reduces anxiety and nausea and can stimulate mood and appetite. It can also increase somnolence (drowsiness), which is why many runners take it before bed to help increase sleep length, depth, and quality.
Put CBD To Work After Your Run
In summary, runners generally take CBD before a run if they are using it to reduce chronic injury-related pain, and after a run if their goal is to aid muscle recovery and reduce soreness. CBD's proven anti-inflammatory properties support both of these uses. Runners also tend to take CBD before bed to increase the quality of their sleep, and research on its somnolence-inducing properties support this usage of CBD, too.
So we know that CBD works, but how should you go about starting to use it? As with all new supplements, you should start taking CBD at small doses and slowly work up as appropriate. Some anecdotal sources suggest a starting dose of just 5–15 mg before bed, and then an increase to 25 mg if the initial dose works for you. Dosing with tincture and cream CBD formats can be difficult, so if you are looking to be exact in your dose control (and you should!), try our BLOCKHEAD CBD Gum, which delivers 3 mg of CBD per piece in only 5 minutes of chewing. It's a convenient liquid- and sugar-free format that can be taken gradually throughout the day.
Finally, you should consider the medicines and prescriptions you are already taking and investigate the likelihood that CBD might interfere with or be synergistic to these drugs. It might be safest to talk to your physician or doctor first.
Overall, the benefits of CBD, while touted by many, are not entirely known. But despite the nebulous state of the body of knowledge surrounding CBD, it is a commonly used running aid being used the world over by amateurs and professionals alike. While a lack of comprehensive research about its effects on the body makes it impossible to guarantee that everyone will find it beneficial, it is likely that if you implement it gradually and carefully into a running routine, you will enjoy increased muscle recovery and higher-quality rests. And of course, as CBD products are developed and put to the test by consumers everywhere, the better our understanding of CBD will get and the more accurately we will be able to recommend CBD products in the future.