Recovery is a key aspect of progress. Without the time to recover you are unlikely to progress. Training alone isn’t enough and as an athlete or active individual, special considerations should be paid to how you recover and what can be done to enhance the process.
The effect of exercise on musculature
In order to understand how recovery can be enhanced we first must understand what actually happens to our bodies during training and just after. When you exercise a particular muscle (or system like your cardiovascular system) you are exposing that component to stress which causes muscular microtears or other adaptions as is the case with cardio training. In regard to muscles, although these microtears are tiny injuries, they stimulate the muscle to grow and repair to a state stronger (and often larger) than they were before the injuries. This constant cycle of growth and repair is critical to building a bigger and stronger musculature. This also means your training routine or methods become progressively easier which is why increased repetitions or weight are also key to consistent progress. This whole process is similar to Wolff’s Lawwhich explains how increased or decreased loads change the strength of bones over time.
The recovery processes
Muscle tears and damage are just one small, but noticeable, impact of exercise and training. Many other changes occur in the body at the same time including significant metabolic changes, alterations to hormone production and levels as well as changes to fluid and blood composition. These changes are temporary and must be returned to a normal ‘set point’ by various homeostatic or ‘recovery’ mechanisms after exercise is complete.
The key aspects of recovery post exercise include:
- Repair muscle tears and maintain bone health
- Restore normal hormone production but temporarily increase the amount of anabolic hormones to promote muscle repair and building while decrease catabolic hormones to prevent muscle break down.
- Control of inflammation
- Rebalance blood composition
- Depositing easy-burned energy stores like glycogen back into depleted muscles
Much of this takes place while we sleep which is why good sleep following exercise is so important. Taking on good quality foods and liquids is also critical in fuelling this recovery process.
How can CBD help the recovery process?
CBD, cannabidiol, interacts with a complex system present in all of our bodies called the endocannabinoid systemor ECS. The system is comprised primarily of two receptors known as CB1 and CB2 which are designed to interact with our own natural endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids like CBD interact with this system as well.
The ECS is involved in regulating a wide variety or processes including:
- Pain signalling
- Immune system function including inflammation
- Sleep wake/cycle
- Appetite and Metabolism
- Fertility and Reproduction
Stimulating the ECS using cannabinoids like CBD appears to influence many outcomes favourably including a downregulation of inflammation and pain signalling. Many athletes use CBD products for help with sleep, targeting muscle and joint pain from injuries as well as overall muscle aches and pains following training.
- CBD and Muscle Soreness
Physical stress, damage and inflammation are key to building muscle. Damaging your muscles during exercise triggers the immune system into starting the inflammatory process. Inflammation is a necessary process that increases blood flow to a damaged area and stuffs it full of protective immune cells and repairing agents.
However, long term inflammation or simply too much inflammation can be an absolute nightmare. Thanks to potent anti-inflammatory effects, CBD may be able to help keep inflammation in check and reduce some of the muscle pain typically experienced after a workout. Numerous studies point towards the effect of CBD being useful in the reduction of in experimental models of arthritis, IBDand Multiple Sclerosis.On top of this, there is a growing amount of anecdotal evidence from athletes that CBD helps them and is now part of their standard regime. Many athletes turn to a combination of oral CBD as well as topical products for particular problem areas.
- CBD and Injury Recovery
CBD may have utility for athletes in aiding the recovery from injury either by supporting the actual recovery or by reducing symptoms of injury like pain. Inflammation and pain are hallmarks of most sports injuries, so targeting these may be particularly effective.
Very importantly, CBD does not produce the potentially serious side effects associated with NSAID or opioid use so is considered by many to be a much safer alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications. That’s why so many professional athletes use CBD and cannabis (in the USA) to deal with injuries.
- CBD and Sleep
The endocannabinoid system is directly involved in the regulation of the sleep/wake cycle and introducing exogenous endocannabinoids has shown marked effects on sleep in various rodent studies. Other studies suggest CBD not only increases sleep time but might also increase sleep quality. Although research is still in its early phase, emerging evidence using rodent models of anxietyand human patients with Parkinson’shave shown that CBD can help with sleep. While this is preliminary evidence it could certainly be very exciting news for athletes who prize their sleep and recovery time.
Based on current research, CBD is a well-tolerated and safe compound (at a wide range of doses) which has a range of purported health benefits many of which are particularly relevant to highly active individuals: emerging evidence of the role of cannabinoids in managing inflammation and pain are especially exciting prospects as well as the relative safety of CBD when compared to commonly used drugs like NSAIDs and Opioids.
‘Athletes of all calibres could find real utility in CBDs anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties’
A note on safety and quality:
If you are considering using CBD products of any kind and are a drug-tested athlete think carefully about how you proceed. Not all CBD products are well made, and many contain additional additives and regulated compounds that are harmful or can land you in trouble. Many CBD products on the market contain illegal or substantial levels of THC which may or may not be openly advertised. Always purchase your CBD from a reputable brand that knows their product inside and out and can provide you with evidence of their credentials and product ingredients. Dr. Ed Sport was created by scientists and athletes to address this specific problem; creating a brand athletes and fitness enthusiasts can trust for advice and market-leading 0% THC CBD supplements.