These days, the uses for CBD seem like they’re never ending. From treating skin conditions to use as a pain suppressant, CBD’s unique interaction with the human body means that we’re still finding more ways to use it to help make our lives better.
However, the use of CBD has primarily been limited to specific medical treatments. What about just using it to make our lives better and easier? What about using CBD as part of your routine to help keep you physically active and help up your game?
What is CBD & What Does it Do to You?
CBD may have entered into relatively common usage as a word and as a medicine but, thanks in part to its frequent initialism, CBD sounds like some sort of mysterious, abstract scientific secret. In reality, CBD actually couldn’t be any simpler.
Cannabidiol, the proper name for CBD, comes from Cannabis sativa plants, and is the other primary cannabinoid alongside THC. However, unlike THC, CBD doesn’t possess psychoactive properties, nor does it cause motor control reduction or any of those famous hunger pangs. Instead, it does something quite unique.
When you consume CBD, it is digested and processed in the liver, ultimately interacting with something in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS exists in all mammals and is actually responsible for a large number of bodily functions that exist without our really knowing about. Additionally, the ECS is able to interact with a number of other bodily functions, thanks to the presence and location of its two primary receptors, CB1 and CB2.
These receptors are triggered by CBD when it enters your system. Their specific locations dictate the effects they’re able to have on our body. For example, the CB1 receptor is primarily located inside the brain, working alongside neural tissue, and is responsible for – in addition to many other things – controlling the sensation of pain and the release of common neurochemicals such as serotonin.
The CB2 receptors, however, are spread more liberally throughout the body, enabling them to interact with a wider variety of bodily functions. Their primary responsibility, alongside their ability to control the body’s inflammation response, is the regulation of cell regeneration. This unique trait is what allows CBD to so readily affect the body’s cells, as it can help increase the rate of healthy cell regrowth.
CBD’s abilities have primarily been used as part of a medical treatment for a huge number of different medical conditions, but scientists are just now beginning to unlock the potential for CBD to help people’s physical activities, even if they’re not suffering from any kind of ailment to begin with.
Let’s take a look at how CBD can help up your game in the gym and get you working out like never before.
CBD & Your Physical Fitness
Your physical wellbeing is easily the most important thing you need to maintain. Though some people prefer to try to maintain it through healthy living and eating right, many others prefer the grueling intensity of the gym.
For some people, working out is more than just a hobby or a way to try and stay in shape; it’s a way of life.
Working out is hard, no matter how experienced you are at it. Whether through accidental injury, or just working too hard and pulling a muscle, athletes and gym rats all over the world are always looking for the next big thing to help them improve their work out.
So, how could CBD help improve exercise?
Reducing Your Recovery Time
Any experienced gym-goer understands the curse of recovery time. This period of silent contemplation is that uncomfortable, awkward 90 seconds to 2 minutes you need to wait between sets to allow your muscles to relax and prevent them from being overworked.
Most people spend this time on their phones or checking themselves out in the mirror, but for those looking to keep working out, there’s always CBD.
Thanks to CBD’s established ability to help combat pain, demonstrated by research such as this study by Ethan Russo, CBD is useful in reducing recovery time and allowing you to get back into your routine faster.
CBD helps by reducing the sensation of pain, but it also works to help relax the muscle fibers and decrease vascular tension, allowing for more oxygen to become accessible to those poor, tired muscles of yours. A study conducted by Stanley et al. discovered that CBD caused the vascular walls of the body’s circulatory system to relax, allowing for an easier flow of blood throughout the body, as well as reducing the risk of heart complications or unnecessary stress on the heart.
This not only gets your muscles more oxygen, it also allows for less constriction on the heart, leading to overall better heart health, despite your intense workouts.
However, when working out, it’s sometimes not the recovery period that’s the most annoying; it’s the period afterwards wherein you have to deal with soreness and general pain from your muscles.
Why does this happen and how could CBD help?
Helping with Muscle Fatigue
The intense soreness that is sometimes so bad that you can’t even lift up your arms is known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. This is your body’s way of telling you that you went way too hard at the gym and you need to calm down for a few days.
Through it might seem like your body is trying to specifically punish you for your transgressions, this is actually a natural response by the body to any kind of overworking on the body’s muscles.
How it works is your body triggers the inflammation response, causing swelling along the joints and muscles around the affected area. This serves to both cushion the area against external pressure, as well as generally warn you that, hey, maybe you should calm it down for a while.
For those that want to work out as much as physically possible and hit their targets, this is an unnecessary distraction. This is perhaps even more of a problem for those that are new to working out, as they can misjudge the amount they can handle and end up with not being to use their arms for 3 days.
However, CBD can actually work wonders to try and fix this. Muscle fatigue is nothing more than an elevated inflammation response by the body, so any type of medicine that can help reduce inflammation can work to reduce it.
CBD is a natural anti-inflammatory, able to reduce inflammation due to the way it interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body. In a clinical study conducted by researchers Carrier et al. for the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, they discovered that CBD is unique in how it manages the body’s inflammation response.
CBD was discovered to encourage the production of the Adenosine Receptor known as A2A. It does this by acting as a direct antagonist of the receptor, essentially turning away the body’s chemicals that tell the A2A to shut off.
In this roundabout way, CBD is able to increase the signaling of the receptor through its interaction with the CB2 receptor in the ECS.
This all might sound extremely convoluted, but the fact of the matter is that, by imbibing CBD before or after a workout, you are able to help prevent the inflammation response by the body, thus mitigating the effects of Muscle Fatigue.
Additionally, this lack of inflammation can help the production of new muscle tissue caused by working out, eventually leading to an easier formation of new muscle.
Basically, CBD not only makes it easier to recover from an intense workout, it also makes it easier to build the muscles you worked on.
Final Thoughts & A Few Warnings
CBD’s ability to interact with both the body’s pain and inflammation response is huge news for weightlifters and general gym rats that didn’t know about it before, as it enables them to workout to a much higher intensity than they did previously.
With little to no side effects of any concern (basically just some slight fatigue in the evenings, as well as some small body adjustments like nausea when you first take it) and no risk whatsoever of addiction, CBD should prove instrumental in making better workout sessions and fewer after workout rest days.
However, it’s worth mentioning a few words of caution. Just because your body isn’t expressing to you the sensation of pain, or swelling your overworked areas with inflammation, it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing damage to yours muscles.
The reason your body gives you pain and inflammation is its clever way of telling you to go easy; you’ve basically hurt yourself.
Your body almost doesn’t understand that you need to push your muscles past their comfortable range to get stronger; it only understands that you’ve torn the muscle fibers and it needs to rebuild.
If you lack the feeling of pain, or simply just lack the swelling around a damaged muscle, you might not realize that you’ve hurt yourself.
If you keep working a muscle group that’s been damaged or overworked, you risk giving yourself a serious injury that could require hospitalization.
This is the primary risk when using CBD for working out – you need to be aware of your body’s limitations and not push yourself too hard, even if you don’t feel the feelings of pain and inflammation you normally would.
Your body’s normal messages to you are turned off, so you need to look after yourself. Still take rest days and have some recovery time, but you can easily reduce them to keep yourself in the gym just a little bit longer.
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