You’ve stretched. You’ve warmed up. You’ve exercised. And now your muscles are sore from the exertion. Whether you’re strength training or engaging in a regular yoga practice, muscle soreness can follow for a myriad of reasons, from simple overexertion or overuse to injury.
If you’re looking for relief from sore muscles from your regular workouts, over-the-counter topical remedies can help. Add CBD into the mix, and you could be addressing more than typical muscle pain creams offer.
CBD-containing topicals are products that you apply to the surface of your skin. Depending on how they are made and where on the body you use them, they can have different absorption rates and benefits. CBD topicals can be infused with isolated forms of Cannabidiol, the non-intoxicating chemical compound – or cannabinoid – found in varying amounts in the Cannabis sativa plant.
CBD can be more abundant in hemp plants, a variation of the Cannabis sativa plant and one that has much lower levels of THC, the cannabinoid that creates a euphoria or “high.” Products made with CBD derived from the same plant as THC versus industrial hemp-derived ones may be regulated similarly to cannabis and carried in dispensaries, even if the THC has been removed.
The cannabinoid CBD may help reduce the inflammation in your joints and muscles after exercise because studies show it possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties. While THC is considered an effective analgesic addressing pain, CBD also can help relieve pain, with or without THC present.
CBD topicals are non-intoxicating because they do not have THC. They also do not penetrate through your skin to enter your bloodstream.
What Should Be in a CBD Pain-Relief Topical?
Most topical products contain ingredients added to stabilize, preserve, and in some cases, increase the absorption of active ingredients to enhance effectiveness, called an active pharmaceutical ingredient or API. Typically, a cream applied to your skin will only penetrate a few layers deep. Most CBD creams that do not have the added ingredients to increase absorption so are good for surface or localized relief.
When purchasing a topical for muscular or joint relief, you can look for an API like oleic acid, emu oil or terpenes such as limonene and pinene or for the term “transdermal” on the label. You can also find effective remedies for muscle aches post-workout with added ingredients that are also known to help with inflammation reduction and pain relief.
Some CBD products contain arnica, derived from Arnica montana, a perennial herb that is commonly used in homeopathy, a centuries-old medical system for addressing acute and chronic health conditions. Other herbs and plants with anti-inflammatory properties that could be added to a CBD topical are chamomile, lavender, and aloe vera.
Another set of ingredients you might see in a CBD product are substances that provide the feeling of cooling on your skin such as peppermint, menthol, and aloe vera. The cooling sensation can help interrupt the pain signals from your muscles and joints to your brain to provide the sensation of more immediate relief.
Finally, look for either Full Spectrum or Broad Spectrum CBD cream when examining the labels on topicals to understand what you’re applying to your skin to relieve inflammation in your muscles and joints. Full Spectrum typically refers to CBD extractions derived from the whole plant and containing an array of cannabinoids including small amounts of THC, 0.3% to be considered “legal” in the United States. Broad Spectrum means you’re getting a rich cannabinoid profile but with the THC removed. Many cannabis physicians report that full or broad spectrum CBD is more therapeutically effective than isolated CBD without other cannabinoids, known as CBD isolate.
Going For a Pain-Free Workout
While topical products, even those containing CBD, can address inflammation and pain after a workout, they can’t work alone. Make sure to ease into exercise, don’t push yourself too hard if you’re not used to intense exercise, and stay hydrated. Think of your workout, whether weight training, running, or a yoga routine, as a long term habit where you build endurance and strength gradually over time. Your body will thank you!
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