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The Runner's Toolbox

Excellent posture, loosely curled hands, body tilted forward at the ankle: mastering the art of running can take years of practice and hours of hard work. An intensive and physically taxing form of exercise, it’s common for runners (novice and seasoned) to experience all manner of aches and pains. Runners are also some of the most susceptible athletes to soft tissue injuries such as ankle sprains, joint pain, and muscle inflammation, and stand to reap a lot of benefits when it comes to integrating tools to help manage into their training program.

Although Ibuprofen is a popular pain reliever, taking too much too often can have negative effects on the liver, especially over the long term or when combined with other medications. Thus, for professional runners and committed hobbyists who run often and require regular pain and muscle relief, the frequent use of Ibuprofen has the potential to be problematic. For some, simply gritting their teeth and working through the pain is possible, but for most, inadequate pain relief for their workouts means putting their fitness dreams on hold and delaying their progress. Although foam rolling is a popular option for improving recovery times in runners, it can be difficult to do properly and isn’t guaranteed to yield good results. So what else can runners do to improve their recovery time?

Chances are you’ve heard of CBD by now. Derived from the hemp plant, this supplement is being looked at by health and fitness industries as a natural alternative to Ibuprofen, an anxiety reliever, a post-workout recovery hack, and sleep aid. Whether you’re a runner and athlete interested in integrating this supplement into your workout routine or just discovering the benefits of legal CBD products for the first time, here’s what you need to know.

What Is It?

CBD stands for cannabidiol and is one of many classes of chemical compounds found in hemp and cannabis. Known for their effects on cannabinoid receptors (the cells that control neurotransmitter release), cannabinoids are most easily understood as the class of compounds that affect the brain.

However, cannabinoids also occur naturally in the body in a system many runners are likely familiar with, known as the endocannabinoid system. The same substance responsible for a marijuana high, endocannabinoids help to regulate several physiological and cognitive processes and are notable for the prevailing theory that heightened levels of endocannabinoids like those caused by running, are in part responsible for runner’s high and its mood-boosting properties.

How To Take It

Legal CBD products are available in a wide variety or forms, ranging from CBD oil tinctures to capsules, creams, balms and gummies. What you take, be it an indigestible or topical, really depends on what you’re using it for. For anxiety and sleep, CBD tinctures and capsules are popular methods, while acute pain and muscle recovery are often addressed with topical applications.

Although this supplement doesn’t get you high, it still affects your brain through the inhibition of neurotransmitter receptors. Thus, the first time you take it, it’s best to start with a low dosage to give your body a chance to adjust. Once you’ve found the right routine for you, you’ll be able to integrate with your daily training and reap the benefits of enhanced recovery.

How can CBD help?

One of the biggest uses CBD is being looked at for is dealing with inflammation. Although we’re still learning when it comes to the science behind the supplement, researchers believe its effects on the brain’s receptors extend to those relating to pain-sensation.

Consider inflammation. A natural cellular process and the body’s response to injury, inflammation tells the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue. Acute muscle inflammation can occur from a strenuous run and is natural and normal, in many people chronic inflammation can lead to even greater concerns. While not completely understood, CBD is believed to effect inflammation by interacting with the brain’s receptors that control it. For runners, this means it could improve recovery time and relive the muscle aches associated with a good workout—all without the negative effects of Ibuprofen use.

Similarly, CBD is being considered as a means to treat arthritis and joint pain, for example in runners who experience sore knees caused by the pressure from impact on their joints.

Who’s Using It?

Since it’s approval by the World Anti-Doping Agency and removal from its banned substance list, CBD has been gaining popularity in the athletic community. Originally aimed at endurance athletes who often experience the most inflammation, the overall health benefits have seen it become recommended by nutritionists who see its inflammatory fighting properties as a boost to the digestive system. Today, many pro-athletes including NHL and NFL stars are advocating for more research and acceptance surrounding the supplement, particularly as mounting evidence suggests the widespread use pharmaceutical pain killers has created a cultural crisis.

No matter if you’re a professional athlete, a dedicated runner, or a sufferer of chronic pain, chances are you’re interested in this supplement because of its highly publicized benefits. A natural alternative to prescription pain medication and notoriously addictive opioids, this supplement offers health and fitness enthusiasts a return to natural remedies. To reap the most benefits from its use, be sure to purchase from a reputable provider, and look to see if the hemp the supplement was derived from was organically grown.