When you are used to exercising several times a week or everyday, an injury that sidelines you from the gym or your Aaptiv app workouts can feel like a major setback. You’re eager to do whatever you can to heal quickly, including going to physical therapy, working with your doctor, and resting and stretching (if needed) until you feel stronger again.
One of the major concerns with injuries like those from overuse and minor strains is inflammation. Until the swelling goes down, you won’t be able to get back to your running, lifting, cycling, or whatever it is that you love.
Nowadays, there’s a buzzy ingredient out there that’s getting a lot of attention: CBD. CBD, or cannabidiol, is said to help reduce inflammation in the body. Sounds ideal for sports injuries, right?
But, is it a good idea to use CBD when you are hurting? Here’s the truth.
What exactly is CBD and will it get me high?
First things first, even though CBD is derived from the same plant as marijuana, it won’t get you high. Most CBD oils have less than 0.3 percent THC, the psychoactive component to CBD. What’s more, there’s already a system in the body called the endocannabinoid system.
“Our body makes its own cannabinoids that influence pain and inflammation, as well as several other bodily systems. CBD is a compound in cannabis that acts on these same receptors,” explains Kyle Burton, a doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncturist, and licensed herbalist in Los Angeles. “When present, they help decrease levels of pain, as well as inflammation. CBD is still being studied for how these mechanisms work, but there are several studies that conclude CBD does have a noticeable effect, especially with seizures, which is a strong objective reaction.”
For injuries, you can try CBD as an oil, tincture, or in a topical cream or ointment used daily or several times a week as you recover.
CBD and Sports Injuries: A Match Made in Exercise Heaven
CBD is anti-inflammatory, so when you are sore or injured, it may be useful as you recover, says Andrew Kerklaan, doctor of chiropractic and founder of Dr. Kerklaan Therapeutics. “Sports injuries most often involve either significant inflammation response or mild-micro traumas,” he says. “Because of CBD’s anti-inflammatory potential, it may be useful in a myriad of symptoms—from mild everyday aches and pains to minor injuries.”
Dr. Kerklaan says that CBD may be beneficial for recovery from a number of common exercise-induced injuries. “These will all trigger inflammatory responses and therefore CBD may have potential to help in the recovery process,” he says.
You may want to try CBD as you recover from the following:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Muscle spasm
- Minor sprain/strain
- Everyday aches and pains from overuse
Of course, you’ll want to use CBD in conjunction with the treatment plan your doctor or physical therapist creates for you. If you are recovering from surgery or on other pain medications, you may want to hold off using CBD until you get the green light from your doctor.
When to Skip It
CBD may help reduce inflammation and help with pain management, but it isn’t a blanket solution to take with all injuries, Dr. Kerklaan explains. “Any severe injury should get a medical opinion and treatment,” he says. (That, of course, includes anything broken or torn.)
“Anything severely limiting movement with significant pain and inflammation along with reduced function may likely be beyond the benefit of CBD,” he says.
Is CBD safe to use?
CBD contains minimal amounts of THC, and is generally considered safe to use; however, always check with your doctor or a holistic health professional if you are concerned. These professionals can let you know if it’s safe for you and if it will interfere with any other medications that you are on. Also, follow any directions or recommendations for a safe dose on the package or label.
“CBD is widely believed to be safe, although therapeutic doses and applications are still being determined,” Burton says. “GW Pharmaceuticals determined [that] nine mg/per pound body weight is the maximum safe dose, although that high dosage may not be necessary depending on the ailment being treated. Because CBD acts on our own receptors and doesn’t interfere with our own body’s production, it is believed to be non-addicting and safe for anyone to try.”
Remember, using CBD isn’t a substitute for seeing a doctor or physical therapist when you are injured. Instead, think of it as a supplement to your medical and/or physical therapy care. Don’t rush back to exercise until your doctor gives you the OK. Take all the time you need to heal when you are injured, and you’ll come back stronger.