Can I Take CBD as Pre-Workout?
Plenty of exercise enthusiasts are combining CBD products with their workout regime, ranging from amateurs to professionals. Former NHL enforcer Ryan VandenBussche, for instance, has become a huge advocate and sees tremendous benefit over using opioids. One study found three types of athletes who use CBD: (1) older athletes using CBD for medical reasons, (2) mixed-age recreational users of both THC and CBD, and (3) long-term users combining THC and CBD, often considered “serious” athletes.
CBD has been called a “potential game-changer” in the world of sports. In 2018 the BIG3 basketball league became the first professional sports league to allow its use and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) took CBD off its banned substances list.
Obviously, CBD has piqued the interest of the active world! At the same time, if you’re trying to learn more about CBD and exercise, there are more questions than solid answers! What are the specific risks and benefits of CBD for exercise? When is it optimal to take CBD, before or after your workout, or both? What is the ideal dosage and method of delivery? Here we will cover what is currently known so you can make the best choice for your body and workout routine.
What Does the Research Say About CBD and Working Out?
Unfortunately, not much! Despite its increasing use, there is little direct research on this topic to guide an active individual in their decision-making. Most information on CBD and exercise is anecdotal at this point. Exercise scientist Dr. Thorsten Rudroff of Colorado State University says, “CBD for exercise-induced inflammation is absolutely the next big area we need to explore… However, most of what we know about CBD and exercise is based on anecdotal reports… There’s basically no research on the topic. We need to investigate CBD’s effects on inflammatory biomarkers [compounds like C-reactive protein in the body that occur with inflammation] in athletes and exercise recovery”.
But a lack of research isn’t stopping workout enthusiasts from trying!
Why Might CBD Help With Workouts?
Anyone who has worked out has likely felt stiff or sore the next day. Soreness is caused by microscopic tears in the muscle. Inflammation triggers the repair process, facilitating muscle growth. If CBD can help mitigate these effects by reducing pain and inflammation, that may help users get back into the gym or onto the field sooner and in better condition.
The research base for CBD has grown substantially over the last decade, but there is still much to learn. CBD has been found effective for chronic pain with no serious side effects. It also has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in mice, though more research is needed with human subjects.
Many workout fans already incorporate pain relief and anti-inflammatory mechanisms into their routine. Some examples include consuming foods with antioxidants, using ice baths, or NSAIDS such as ibuprofen. CBD, however, has few adverse events while over-the-counter NSAIDS have harmful side effects with prolonged use, at high doses and when used as a preventative measure.
This might not be a problem if you only go for an occasional run, but if you’re pumping iron every day your body may thank you for looking for an alternative.
Among a survey of athletes using CBD, many found benefits included an overall sense of well being and calm. On the other hand, while CBD is often thought of as relaxing, low doses can actually have a stimulating effect, which has the potential to contribute positively to the exercise experience.
When is it Optimal to Take CBD, Before or After Working Out?
There are no existing guidelines for CBD usage in exercise. Based on reports from around the web, experience is mixed and may vary depending on the individual, their activity level and type of exercise.
Some pre-workout benefits may include:
- inducing a calming effect before yoga
- reducing pre-workout anxiety
- feel energized and focused without sedative effects
One user, however, found only a slight improvement using CBD pre-workout, unsure whether it was a “placebo effect” or a real change.
Post-workout CBD benefits have also been reported, including:
- fewer muscle aches the next morning
- near-immediate relief of muscle pain using topicals
Still, others tried using CBD and found no significant benefit to their workout routine.
What Are the Risks of Using CBD as Pre-Workout?
Without a solid body of research, it is difficult to know! CBD has been found safe at high doses. In one study participants took up to 1,500 mg/day for 26 days with no negative effects. Researchers do not currently know about the longer-term impact.
Athletes have reported adverse effects including respiratory problems (wheezing, coughing, etc.), cardiovascular issues (increased heart rate, palpitations), anxiety, problems concentrating, worsened performance, and increased appetite. These occurred at a low rate, however, and were most common among long-term users who combine their CBD use in combination with THC. This means these side effects may actually be due to the THC, or the combination of CBD and THC, rather than CBD itself. Importantly, the positive benefits experienced from CBD usage outweighed negative effects in general.
With a lack of detailed research, it is also currently unknown whether any differences in dose and method of delivery may impact one’s experience.
The Bottom Line of CBD as Pre-Workout
On the whole, there appear more reasons to try CBD with your workout than not to. With minimal known side effects, the worst-case scenario for most appears to simply be a lack of benefits or harms. Of course, everyone’s body and situation is different, and as with any health measure, consulting your doctor is a great idea.
If using CBD alongside exercising appeals to you, take it slow, and observe the effects. Start with a low dose and pay attention to both positive and negative outcomes. Alter your dosage or consider discontinuing if you experience discomfort. ou may want to try different modes of delivery, so get curious to see whether a dose of CBD oil before your workout improves your experience or whether a topical cream may be perfect for those achy muscles when you finish.
Remember, you’re exercising to improve your health and well-being, so long as CBD is contributing positively to that goal, it appears safe and beneficial to add it to your workout routine!
Sarah has a Ph.D in Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Arizona. Her current research spans the fields of trauma, psychology, neurobiology and sociology.