If you exercise, either for the purposes of keeping fit, for casual sport, or for more professional reasons, you most certainly know the tell-tale aches and pains that come along with it. This muscle strain is of course an integral component of exercise, and so too is muscle recovery. Whether this recovery is needed simply between workouts or to treat a strained muscle or injury, physiotherapy is here to help speed up this process.
That’s why many professional sports teams employ the services of a sports physiotherapist. These trained professionals can diagnose and treat a range of muscular and skeletal injuries to help restore full body function as quickly as possible so that athletes can get back to their passions. Physiotherapy, just like all modern medical practice, is an ever-changing and adapting area of study that incorporates new techniques and methods to continually improve.
If you’ve ever suffered a muscle strain, you’ll know how painful and debilitating it can be, both mentally and physically. In instances where muscles are damaged, physiotherapy acts as the helping hands needed to make sure recovery can happen effectively and quickly.
But it’s not just for excessive strain or injury. Every time you exert your muscles you are causing microscopic damage to millions of tiny proteins that make up your muscle cells. This subsequently leads to inflammation, which we then feel as those characteristic aches, pains, and stiffness that can be felt after a workout.
For all kinds of muscle recovery, physiotherapists will typically develop a rehabilitation program which includes a range of muscle-strengthening exercises and deep tissue massage to help restore the muscle to its original strength. There are several advantages of working with a physiotherapist rather than leaving your muscle to heal in its own time:
As is apparent, physiotherapy isn’t just about recovery, it’s about prevention of further injury or strain too. To be both restorative and preventative, physiotherapy usually targets five key areas of focus:
So where does CBD come into play? Can CBD be used to support the recovery process between workouts? What about more rapid healing after an injury? Many athletes have already turned to CBD to support recovery, but studies are still in their infancy, and much more work needs to be done.
The anecdotal evidence is there, but understanding how CBD functions within our bodies will shed light on why more and more athletes are taking to CBD. Simply, CBD is a cannabinoid, and the human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. Some cannabinoids exist within our bodies already, but they can also be introduced into our systems by naturally occurring external compounds like CBD, or indeed THC.
The ECS communicates with our other body systems to promote overall homeostasis and may help to regulate such functions as inflammation and pain, sleep, anxiety, and even appetite. CBD acts as a modulator of the endocannabinoid receptors, attaching to them in a unique way and modifying their structure. This allows our naturally-produced endocannabinoids to bind to them more effectively. CBD doesn’t stimulate the endocannabinoid system directly, but rather may help the ECS function more effectively on its own.
Because CBD has been shown to only stimulate our own ECS system into functioning more effectively – rather than introducing foreign compounds into our bodies – it does not have the same psychoactive properties as THC. The world of professional athleticism knows this too – in 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its banned substances list. This means that CBD is not comparable to performance-enhancing drugs like amphetamines, hormones, or illegal drugs.
You can only fail a drug test if you’ve taken CBD if you’ve used a supplement that includes illegal amounts of THC. For this reason, if you’re competing in professional sporting events and are interested in using CBD, you should opt for a product made from third-party laboratory tested CBD that can prove the absence of THC.
As we’ve said, CBD research has not as yet ‘proved’ anything, but CBD may prove relief during the physical recovery process needed after muscle strain or intense exercise. More indirectly but just as importantly, CBD may also help to support healthy sleep, lower stress levels, and optimize protein synthesis.
Reducing inflammation is one of the main reasons athletes use anti-inflammatories or ice after a workout or injury. Reducing inflammation limits the damage caused to nearby muscle and joint tissue, which subsequently helps with recovery time. Some athletes have begun using CBD to support recovery in the muscle tissue without compromising recovery times.
CBD may also help to combat aches and pains and may offer symptomatic support for muscle injuries or post-exercise recovery. With less pain, it will be easier to get back into action faster, and feel more comfortable between exercise.
The importance of a good night’s sleep is crucial for both mental and physical wellbeing. Without restful sleep, our bodies may increase cortisol levels, which has a negative impact on protein synthesis. We might also experience a reduction in testosterone, which is heavily involved in the process of muscle recovery for both men and women. CBD may help us relax and feel less pain before bed.
There are so many different CBD supplements out there that it’s incredibly easy for people to start using this supplement in whatever capacity makes the most sense for them. However, as mentioned above, it is paramount for any athlete who may be drug tested to ensure their product is absolutely THC-free. Ongoing studies into the true effects of CBD are still very much inconclusive, so adding CBD to any routine should of course not be taken as gospel.
Here are some of the most common ways you can add CBD to a supplement/recovery regimen:
There are innumerable ways to incorporate CBD into an effective recovery schedule. As with any treatment plan, however, it’s important to make CBD just one part of a comprehensive and holistic approach to recovery. Coupled with traditional physiotherapy, CBD can indeed help us all on the path to recovery.
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