CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring oily compound found in the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Non-psychoactive, it is thought to deliver a whole range of biochemical, psychological, and physiological benefits when taken as part of a health and wellness plan.

In fact, recent research indicates that it may significantly aid post-exercise recovery — so it could have the potential to augment the training and health regimes of athletes and other people who engage in physically demanding activities.

With so many possible advantages associated with taking CBD, we thought we’d compile a quick guide to the science surrounding this remarkable compound, look at how it can support a fitness regime, and answer the question of whether CBD should be taken before or after a workout.

Three scenarios where you should take CBD before your workout

If you regularly feel anxious or stressed

Every athlete has experienced “butterflies in the stomach” — that tell-tale sign of anxiety that often occurs before a big game or competition. However, many people are unaware that taking a CBD supplement before exercise can help manage pre-workout or pre-competition stress.

The research is in the early stages, but one study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found lowered blood pressure in a study group taking a CBD supplement, compared to a group that was given a placebo.

There’s also good anecdotal evidence to support claims that CBD helps people to concentrate better during exercise or competition. So, given that CBD seems to help manage anxiety so well, there’s a good case for taking it as an aid to mental focus in sports.

A second study found that CBD can help reduce nerves, anxiety, and the physical symptoms of mental stress. This study also found that taking the compound can improve cognitive function before a stressful event, such as a performance, high-level workout, or athletic competition.

However, another study states that the available evidence is preliminary and based on preclinical studies — so, as yet, we’re not able to give a definitive answer on the case for taking CBD to support athletic performance.

That said, we feel there’s enough anecdotal evidence from people that use CBD as part of their overall training and health regimes to recommend it as an aid to post-exercise recovery and enhanced mental focus.

You struggle to maintain a regular, healthy sleep cycle

One of the additional benefits of CBD’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety is improved sleep quality. Quality sleep and the right amount of it, are critical to your overall health and therefore, athletic performance.

CBD can reduce the time spent in REM sleep and increase the amount of deep sleep, or NREM Stage 3 sleep. So, if you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, a quality CBD supplement might be the answer for you.

Sleep is the body’s “downtime” — it’s when the unseen process of repairing and restoring all our various systems occur. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, then all our physical, emotional, and mental processes suffer; and that can have a big impact on performance.

Deep sleep is better for us because it requires less energy. Body temperature, heart rate, and brain activity all fall during this sleep state, meaning better overall rest and more complete recovery from exertion.

There’s also evidence to suggest that CBD has therapeutic benefits in the treatment of sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleeping problems. It may, therefore, pay to take a CBD supplement before going to bed to maximize the restorative effect of your night’s rest.

You often experience muscular tension during workouts

CBD may also help you if you suffer from muscular tension during your workouts. The compound is one of nature's own muscle relaxants and slows the movement of neurotransmitters that can be the cause of excess muscle tension, contractions, or spasms.

And again, because of CBD’s natural calming effect, it reduces overall anxiety and tension, thereby contributing to relaxed, free-flowing movement and athletic performance.

Best ways to take CBD before a workout

There are a wide variety of CBD supplements on the market and there’s a product for everyone — some deliver their CBD quickly, others more slowly — so it pays to think a little about what will work best for you and your circumstances.

For example, if you’re on the go and need a fast-acting supplement, consider taking CBD sublingually. This is where flavored powders and CBD oil come into their own because holding a CBD product under the tongue is the fastest way to get the compound into your system.

If you’ve got a little more time before training, then gummies, mints, and capsules are a great way to take CBD if taken up to an hour before your workout.

Lastly, blending flavor-neutral CBD powder into food or beverages gives you the option to incorporate your supplement into your overall nutritional program and is a good way to take CBD if you aren’t keen on flavored products or capsules.

Two scenarios where you should take CBD after your workout

You struggle with muscle soreness and mobility after working out

More research is needed, but there’s growing anecdotal evidence to suggest that some of CBD’s most powerful effects are experienced post-workout. This is due to CBD’s ability to mitigate Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and promote muscle repair.

Exercise increases strength by causing microscopic damage to muscle fibers. It’s these micro-tears that cause post-workout soreness and swelling of muscle tissue.

We all know when we’ve pushed it too far in a workout and overdoing it is counterproductive and may hinder muscle growth and regeneration. Fortunately, recent studies show that CBD can reduce DOMS and the discomfort it causes by modulating the body’s response to micro-damage.

In a 2021 study published in Frontiers in Physiology, CBD was found to stimulate post-exercise recovery due to its analgesic, anxiolytic, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory qualities.

What’s more, there’s also evidence to support the theory that CBD may help the body modulate its reaction to exercise by promoting a natural anti-inflammatory response to combat muscle micro-damage.

And if that weren’t enough, other scientific studies show that CBD may increase nerve function and therefore movement in people that suffer from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) — a debilitating condition that can severely hamper physical activity and mobility.

Here’s a link to an article that tells you all you need to know about CBD and post-workout recovery.

You struggle to get to sleep after evening workouts

If you struggle to unwind, fully relax, and get to sleep after you’ve stimulated your mind and body through exercise, you’re one of the millions of people who find it difficult to get a proper night’s rest after a workout.

So, instead of taking your CBD supplement before your workout, try taking it afterwards — you may find it enables you to fall asleep more easily and help you establish a regular post-exercise sleep pattern.

Best ways to take CBD after a workout

There are lots of ways to take CBD after your workout and as always, it’s best to experiment to find the right method for you and your fitness program. In general, though, there are three main ways to take CBD as part of your health and exercise regime:

  • You could use a topical CBD product, such as a cream, oil, or lotion, to directly massage sore muscles
  • Another approach is to take an oral CBD supplement as soon as pain or soreness occurs
  • Lastly, you could take a regular, daily dose of CBD to maintain a more generalized, lasting effect through your training program

Potential side effects & interactions

Although CBD is a natural product and possesses a myriad of health benefits, it can produce side effects, so exercise care when taking it. Some people will have no side effects at all, while others may experience them to a mild or possibly more marked degree.

Among the reported side effects of taking CBD are fatigue, changes in appetite, and diarrhea, so listen to your body and modify your dose accordingly.

It’s also important to note that CBD can interact with some prescription drugs. An interaction may impair the functioning of a medicine and may even cause an adverse reaction; therefore, it’s vital to consult your doctor about your dosage and possible contraindications.

NB: CBD should also be avoided while pregnant or when breastfeeding.

How to choose a CBD product

Choosing a CBD supplement is a bit of a minefield, and it pays to do some research, as not all products contain the amount of CBD that they claim to.

So much so, that one recent study found that only 31 percent of supplements sold online contained the CBD their manufacturers claimed they did.

The formulation of a supplement can also have a big impact on its efficacy — just because a product contains CBD doesn’t mean it delivers it efficiently to your body, so knowing the science behind a product can help you determine if it offers good bioavailability and value for money.

It may sound obvious but choosing a supplement from a trustworthy manufacturer is the way to go because well-established brands conduct their own research and publish their own laboratory reports.

Purity is important too, so again, choose carefully, as many supplements contain significant quantities of the psychoactive compound, THC. THC is the compound that cannabis is famous or infamous for, and all good CBD supplements will be free of it

At this point, we must note that, as with all supplements, Dutch Natural Healing products are not a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle, nor are they intended to treat or prevent disease and should only be used after consulting a medical professional. Any data or findings discussed herein are based on a review of relevant scientific literature only.

The bottom line - should I take CBD before or after exercise?

There’s still more to know about the role CBD plays in exercise and the decision to take a supplement before or after your workout will depend on your fitness and health challenges, and what form of CBD supplement you are most happy using.

Learn more about the different "types of CBD"

Increased acceptance of the role CBD can play in health and fitness regimes has started a new era in wellness as more and more people around the world are experiencing the therapeutic effects of CBD for the first time.

However, as with any new supplement or health innovation, it’s important to only use products with a proven track record of quality and purity.

FAQs

Is CBD a performance-enhancing Substance?

There is some debate as to whether CBD improves athletic performance and should, therefore, be considered a performance-enhancing substance.

While many athletes do say that CBD helps their physical and mental performance, its claimed effects on stamina and focus have not been proven.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has therefore removed the compound from its list of banned substances, but professional sportspeople are still advised to use care when choosing a supplement, as many contain detectable quantities of the banned compound, THC.

Can pro athletes take CBD?

CBD is completely legal in most countries and states, is permitted for use as a supplement under international anti-doping regulations, and can therefore be used by professional athletes.

However, as we’ve already covered above, the purity of CBD products varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and some may contain detectable levels of THC (which is on the anti-doping list), so choose your supplement carefully.

How much CBD should I take?

How much CBD to take depends very much on the individual’s particular requirements and tolerance to the compound. As with any supplement, it’s a good idea to start taking CBD in small amounts at first and increase your dosage according to need and results.

We recommend a starting dosage for CBD oil and our water-soluble CBDActive+ of one or two drops or pumps, one to two times a day, unless otherwise advised.

You can read more about how to achieve the ideal dose here.

Does CBD affect athletic performance?

There’s good anecdotal evidence to support the claim that CBD improves athletic performance, and many athletes use it to promote sleep, aid recovery, decrease pain, and combat inflammation.

Is CBD good for weightlifting?

A quality CBD supplement offers benefits to people engaged in strenuous exercise, such as weightlifting, because of its ability to relieve DOMS, promote post-exercise muscle repair, and speed up post-exercise recovery, meaning you can get back to training more quickly.

Does CBD increase stamina?

CBD may increase stamina because of its ability to promote good sleep and overall well-being. If a person is well-rested, they tend to perform better physically, so there’s a good case for using CBD to increase athletic endurance.