CBD For Muscle Pain: Does It Help?
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
Discomfort is part of life. Whether you’re training for an actual marathon or crunched on the couch for a Netflix marathon, you’ll feel it the next day. If you’re training for a marathon, you feel it in your calves. If you’re on a Netflix marathon, you feel it in your lower back after hours curled up on the couch. As you age, you wake up with aches1 that don’t have any directly traceable cause. No matter how many orthopedic pillows you buy, sometimes you just “sleep funny.”
When you’re in physical discomfort, it can affect every facet of your life. If your calves twitch or your neck twinges as you get in bed, it can be difficult to fall asleep. Then, you wake up the next morning tired, frustrated and with sore muscles.
This might prompt the question: Does CBD help muscle soreness?
The short answer? Yes! CBD balm and oils can indeed soothe your muscles ,helping you feel at your physical and mental best. This quick guide explains how.
What Causes Muscle Soreness?
In order to understand why and how CBD helps soothe sore muscles, it’s important to identify what causes discomfort in the first place.
According to the Cleveland Clinic2, any of the following might be the root cause of your aching muscles:
- Post-exercise inflammation
- Muscle tension and stress
- Repetitive use or overuse
- Lack of sleep
Next, we’ll break down the pathways involved in these different types of muscle soreness.
The American College of Sports Medicine3 notes that Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can occur anywhere from 12-72 hours after working out. In high school, you might have learned that this was because of lactic acid buildup in the muscles. However, the ACMS explains that this is a common misconception.
Lactic acid is not associated with DOMS. Rather,
“Most believe soreness develops as a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibers involved in the exercise. This type of damage likely results from novel stresses that were experienced during the exercise.”
Thus, the resulting discomfort and muscle pain is an inflammatory response. Due to these tiny injuries, your body reacts as it would to any threat or intruder. Your nervous system signals the immune system to kick into gear, and it sends white blood cells to the affected region.
The good news is that this inflammatory response helps muscle recovery allowing your muscles to heal. The bad news is that, in the meantime, you’re in discomfort or pain. In addition, Charles Raison, M.D., tells Shape4 that “When inflammation is at a high level all the time, it creates chronic wear and tear on healthy tissues and organs.”
Repetitive Use and Overuse
We all know that exercise takes your body through new ranges of motion, challenging your muscles and asking them to work more than they do in everyday life. However, small repetitive movements can have a similar effect.
There are certain motions that you perform over and over again. Whether you’re a pro tennis player or someone who works on a keyboard, it’s like that you’re subjecting your elbows, shoulders and wrists to the same positions and motions.
Small movements that can cause discomfort and potentially joint pain over time include:
- Using a computer mouse
- Swiping items in a checkout counter
- Holding a tool
- Assembly line work
Like exercise, repetitive motions and overuse can also trigger an inflammatory response—and with it, bodily discomfort. While the above is not an exhaustive list, it illustrates a clear picture of repetitive tasks that can strain the muscles over an extended period of time.
Conversely, lack of movement can trigger inflammation and discomfort. Especially as we spend more of our days sitting than moving, it’s important to show ourselves some self care with:
- Gently stretching throughout the day
- Walking in nature
- Deep breathing
Tension and Stress
When you’re anxious about work, money or general life stressors, your muscles tense up5. You probably know this is true from experience. On a particularly nerve-wracking day, you might feel like it’s impossible to relax your neck and shoulders.
The American Psychological Association explains that “Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress — the body’s way of guarding against injury.”
If you’ve been feeling bodily discomfort with no discernible cause, it’s possible that your body is storing stress in your muscles. For tips on handling tension from life stressors, check out our tips on how to manage stress.
Lack of Sleep
Inadequate sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for bodily discomfort. While we don’t completely understand the link between the two, Science ABC6 presents two hypotheses:
- Poor sleep disrupts the healthy functioning of the nervous system. In turn, it causes sensitization, and the body reacts stronger to any stimulus.
- Poor sleep is known to lead to inflammation. As we already know, inflammation is associated with bodily discomfort, and over time, it can actually damage the body.
Do you experience one or more of these types of discomfort? If so, you’re probably looking for some relief.
Luckily, CBD can help with muscle aches and discomfort.
CBD Muscle Recovery
As you can deduce, discomfort has its root not just in physical trauma, but in our overall bodily health. This is why CBD can be so effective in treating soreness.
CBD is known to have the following benefits:
- Soothes soreness
- Relieves post-exercise inflammation
- Supports healthy sleep
- Quiets nerves and stress
- Promotes joint health
Therefore, CBD is one of the best natural remedies for muscle soreness because it addresses both the physical and mental states that contribute to such discomfort.
CBD can help with the following issues:
- Post-exercise inflammation – Hitting the gym or the yoga studio should be an all-natural way to relieve stress and tension. However, it can put a damper on things if your hamstrings burn for days after your activity. For one, it makes you reluctant to head back. Not to mention the fact that everything from the stairs to your desk just got a whole lot more uncomfortable. The easiest solution? Use CBD balm to soothe your muscles.
- Stress and tension – When you’re feeling stressed, you may not feel inspired to go to the gym. It’s bad enough having to sit at your desk. Your stomach’s upset, your mind is clouded, and beyond that, your neck, shoulders and jaw are tight. You can poke and prod them all you want, but nothing seems to give. This is where CBD comes in. A CBD balm can be rubbed on areas that feel tight due to stress and tension for soothing relief.
- Poor sleep – Maybe you’re so stressed that you can’t turn your mind off at night. Or maybe your cat wakes you up at 4 a.m. without fail, and you simply don’t know how to return to sleep. As a result, you’re not just tired — you’re achey. Whatever the cause of your poor sleep, CBD can help. CBD supports healthy sleep habits by making it easier to fall asleep and remain in slumber. Once you’re sleeping better, your body will feel better, too.
How to Use CBD for Muscle Aches and Discomfort
If you’re interested in taking CBD to help manage discomfort, what’s the most effective product for your specific complaint? From CBD balms, capsules, and moisturizers, the market offers tons of different products. To a novice in the CBD space, this might be overwhelming.
If you’re trying to identify the best product for your discomfort, see below.
Use Topicals to Treat Specific Muscle Groups
Do you tend to experience soreness in one place? For instance:
- You know your quads overfire during workouts. Ascending stairs is a challenge afterward.
- Your finger and wrist joints are unhappy from what feels like a lifetime of texting and swiping.
- You experience daily stress, and it resides in your shoulders. No matter how many deep breaths you take, they never relax and melt away.
If you relate to this, you should apply topical CBD to the affected area. CBD can be absorbed transdermally (through the skin) which makes topical CBD a great method to target a specific muscle or area. You can try applying CBD cream or balm.
- Giving yourself a nourishing massage with CBD body lotion or topical cream
- Applying relief balm to any sore spots
Tip: Are you considering using hemp oil for muscle recovery? Be aware that products advertised as “hemp oil” may not contain CBD extract. Make sure to check that CBD is listed under your oil’s ingredients if you want to experience its benefits. Better yet, seek out products that have their lab reports listed and in compliance with lab testing standards.
Take CBD Tablets or Oils to Support Overall Health
If you know the specific root of your muscular discomfort, you can address it directly. But perhaps no matter how many CBD massages you’ve given yourself, discomfort crops up at different points in your day.
Do any of the following sound familiar?
- You have aches in different areas of your body, depending on the day. You never know what will act up next.
- After a night with one too many glasses of wine, you wake up and your whole body aches.
- You’ve been sleeping badly, and you seem to twist your neck or hurt your hand with even the slightest strain.
- You can’t quite put your finger on it, but your whole body just feels…off.
In these cases, CBD can help support your relaxation, sleep and health to address the source of your discomfort at its root. Taking CBD orally is a direct way to absorb it into your bloodstream and experience the full array of its beneficial effects.
- Making CBD drops a part of your daily routine
- Taking CBD capsules, which can be more discrete and portable than CBD oil