A jar of Sunset Lake CBD salve next to ski goggles, emphasizing its potential benefits for muscle recovery.

You hit the gym, go to bed, and wake up the next day with sore, stiff muscles. Those deep aches are a telltale sign of an intense workout. But they can also prove to be a real pain, and in some cases, impact your mobility. It’s led many, even professional athletes, to wonder if they can do anything to lessen the soreness and improve their recovery. Some sports medicine professionals are now studying hemp, hoping that CBD can help with muscle recovery.

In this post, we’ll cover muscle recovery, what causes muscle aches, and discuss whether or not CBD can help with muscle recovery. We’ll also compare CBD’s benefits to other popular recovery methods athletes and fitness enthusiasts use.

What is Muscle Recovery?

During a hard workout, you stress  your muscles and sometimes push them to failure (the point at which you can’t do another repetition with the correct form). When you push to failure, you damage and inflame your muscle fibers.

Muscle inflammation triggers your body’s immune response, which repairs the damage to ensure that you can handle greater muscle stress in the future. That’s why as you progress on your fitness journey, you’ll need to subject your muscles to greater stress, like heavier weights, to see results.

While your muscles are inflamed, it’s common to experience soreness. This is your body’s signal that your muscles are under repair and that you’ll need to fully recover before you can train them again. Understanding the muscle recovery process is crucial for optimizing your workouts and minimizing downtime due to soreness or injury.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the more than 100 naturally-occurring compounds produced by the hemp and cannabis plant. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another prominent compound in cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive and will not make you feel intoxicated.

As of this writing, there aren’t many FDA-backed studies about CBD’s effects on humans, though there is an FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex, that’s derived from CBD to manage rare forms of epilepsy. This approval highlights the potential of CBD, though more research is needed to fully understand its benefits and applications.

CBD has gained popularity for its potential therapeutic effects, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties. These effects make it an appealing option for those looking to manage pain, reduce anxiety, or enhance recovery without the side effects associated with some pharmaceutical drugs.

Can CBD Help with Muscle Recovery?

To an avid gymgoer, there’s nothing as deflating as an unscheduled rest day because of lingering soreness. If only there was something out there that could help hasten your recovery.

CBD may be just the thing. According to a 2021 review in Frontiers of Physiology, “[CBD] seems to have anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, analgesic, anxiolytic, and pain-relieving properties which can be potential mediators of recovery in athletes during regular training…”

It should be noted here that all of the following research and citations to said research are not FDA-approved and should not be considered medical advice or a statement of fact. However, the anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies are promising.


Inflammation is your body’s immune response to an irritant. Regarding muscle recovery, inflammation happens when you stress and break down your muscle tissue in an attempt to grow new muscle fibers. In some cases, though, your immune system can go overboard and clean out healthy tissue around the recovering muscle.

Some athletes supplement their recovery with ingestible and topical CBD. One athlete who touts CBD’s benefits is Megan Rapinoe of USWNT fame, “When [CBD’s] taken after hard training and before bed, I feel it gives me a better night’s sleep and I feel like I’m able to relax a bit easier.”

Comparing CBD to other anti-inflammatory supplements like turmeric or ibuprofen, CBD offers a natural alternative without the potential gastrointestinal side effects associated with long-term NSAID use. Additionally, CBD’s multifaceted approach, impacting both inflammation and pain perception, provides a comprehensive recovery aid.

CBD’s Anti-Analgesic Effects

A few non-FDA-sanctioned studies have found that CBD used in conjunction with THC, also known as full-spectrum CBD, has been used to effectively manage pain. While not FDA-approved yet, it seems that American adults aren’t waiting. 60% of Americans who use CBD are taking it for its pain-relieving effects.

Rest is a big part of muscle recovery. Good rest can be tough to come by when you’re in pain. Some athletes (and non-athletes) use topical products infused with CBD to mitigate their surface-level muscle and joint pain to let their body’s internal repair system get to work faster.

In comparison to other pain relief methods like ice baths or massage, CBD offers a convenient, portable option that can be used anytime, anywhere. Ice baths, while effective, can be uncomfortable and time-consuming, and massages often require scheduling and can be costly. CBD, particularly topical forms, can be applied directly to the sore area and provide relief without the need for additional equipment or appointments.

Someone wearing a ski boot rubbing CBD Salve on their shin

CBD and Sleep

We already have a full piece about CBD and sleep that you can read here. But when it comes to muscle recovery, nothing is better for you than sleep. Quality sleep is essential for muscle repair and overall recovery. During deep sleep, your body releases growth hormone, which aids in tissue growth and muscle repair.

CBD may help by putting you to sleep faster and helping you stay asleep through the night. This can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with insomnia or have difficulty staying asleep due to pain or anxiety.

Comparatively, traditional sleep aids, such as melatonin or prescription medications, can have side effects like grogginess or dependency. CBD offers a natural alternative that may help improve sleep quality without these drawbacks. Moreover, CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety can also contribute to a more restful night, making it a dual-purpose solution for both sleep and anxiety-related issues.

How Can You Use CBD for Muscle Recovery?

How you take your CBD for muscle recovery is important depending on what your goal is. Regarding muscle recovery, you may want to try two different methods in tandem with each other.

Topical CBD

Topical CBD can be a product like lotion or a rub that’s infused with CBD. They will often contain ingredients that are also good for your skin. You would want to use topical CBD in areas where you have localized soreness.

For example, if you notice that you have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in your quads after squatting, rub some topical CBD on the areas of acute soreness to help calm the nerves.


If rest is your goal, try ingestible CBD oil. As opposed to topical CBD’s localized relief, taking CBD oil orally is going to help you relax and if taken before bedtime, CBD oil may even help improve the quality of your sleep.

You can use both topical CBD and CBD oil together depending on your needs. This combined approach allows for targeted relief where you need it most, while also providing systemic benefits that can enhance overall recovery and well-being.

Additionally, comparing CBD with other oral supplements for recovery, such as protein powders or branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), CBD offers unique benefits related to pain management and sleep improvement, which are not typically addressed by these other supplements.

Muscle Recovery: Is CBD Worth It?

When it comes to muscle recovery, optimization, and strength training, CBD isn’t a magic pill that turns you into an unstoppable force. It’s merely a part of the hemp plant that many have used to help with sleep, stress relief, and pain management.

It can be a bit challenging to find what CBD is right for you. If you plan on taking CBD oil, we recommend starting with 25mg daily for two weeks straight. Learn how your body responds and adjust your dose accordingly. Again, CBD isn’t going to speed up your muscle recovery, but it may just help you relax while your body puts itself back together.

If you’re new to CBD, consult your doctor and ensure that it’s not going to interact negatively with any of your existing medications.

In comparison to other muscle recovery aids like foam rollers, stretching routines, or hot baths, CBD offers a complementary approach that can enhance the effectiveness of these traditional methods. Foam rolling and stretching are excellent for improving flexibility and breaking up muscle knots, while hot baths can soothe sore muscles. CBD can be used alongside these practices to provide additional pain relief and promote relaxation. For more information Visit our website.


    1. What is the best way to use CBD for muscle recovery?
      • Topical CBD for localized relief and CBD oil for systemic effects are the best ways to use CBD for muscle recovery.
    2. How long does it take for CBD to help with muscle recovery?
      • The effects of CBD can vary, but many users report feeling relief within 30 minutes to an hour after application.
    3. Can CBD prevent muscle soreness after a workout?
      • While CBD may help reduce inflammation and pain, it does not prevent muscle soreness but can aid in the recovery process.
    4. Is it safe to use CBD daily for muscle recovery?
      • Generally, CBD is considered safe for daily use, but it’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are on other medications.
    5. Are there any side effects of using CBD for muscle recovery?
      • Some potential side effects of CBD include drowsiness, dry mouth, and changes in appetite, but these are typically mild.