April 26, 2021

Cannabis Topicals for Workouts: How to Work Cannabinoids Into Your Cool-Down and Recovery

Make your workouts work for you by adding a cannabis topical to your fitness routine.

One way we know a workout is successful is because our muscles hurt after we’re done. 

Though some subscribe to a “no pain, no gain” philosophy, there are also many of us who would be just fine with gaining the benefits of exercise without the downside of nagging aches and soreness. That’s where cannabis topicals come in.

What’s a cannabis topical, exactly? It’s a product that’s designed to be applied directly to the skin. Topicals come in many forms, such as balms, creams, lotions, oils, ointments, salves—and they’re infused with THC as well as other cannabinoids and plant compounds. 

Here’s how cannabis topicals work: Thanks to receptors located throughout our bodies that are part of the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), topicals provide targeted relief. 

The result of rubbing an infused lotion into, say, a sore lower back, is that the active cannabis compounds primarily stay localized to the area—meaning it won’t cause a “high” feeling. (There is one important caveat with THC topicals: Even though topicals don’t cause a psychoactive effect, if you’re subject to drug tests as a condition of employment or military service, be aware that certain types of tests are extremely sensitive to THC.)

Cannabis Topicals for Workouts

Using cannabis topicals as a regular part of a workout routine is something every athlete and dedicated fitness buff might want to consider. Already, a shift in perception is taking place: A 2019 study found that “nearly 82 percent of people who partake in legal cannabis light up before or after exercise (most often both).”

The reason for this impressive statistic likely lies in research that has found both THC and CBD compounds to possess anti-inflammatory, muscle-relaxing, and pain-relieving effects. In the context of a workout, a cannabis topical may thus be especially helpful when it comes to common related complaints like muscle soreness, muscle spasms, or joint pain.

In addition, use of a cannabis topical can also help expedite recovery times, be it between workouts at home or bouts in a kickboxing ring

Times for Topicals: Cool-Down and Recovery

If you’re ready to start this journey at home, there are a few different ways to consider using a cannabis topical as part of your fitness routine. 

One of the best places to start is right after a workout is complete. In the immediate cool-down period, tending to aches and pains before they arise can be the difference between feeling like a truck hit you the day after lifting weights or feeling refreshed and ready to crank out more squats. 

For those dealing with chronic pain, topicals may also prove beneficial in a pre-workout capacity. Thinking ahead to the shoulder that will inevitably throb after you’re done swimming laps or the elbow that always quits on you right after a good game of tennis, applying a cannabis topical ahead of the activity in question may do wonders to limit such discomfort moving forward.

Though the relationship between major sports leagues like the NFL and the NBA and cannabis topicals remains a work in progress, plenty of former professional athletes are now coming forward to endorse the concept and offer their own spin on the recipe. Among them are former Miami Dolphins tailback Ricky Williams, Olympics gymnastics gold medalist Gabby Douglas, and former NBA star Al Harrington, among others.

It’s a busy scene and one that continues to further define itself by the day. At the center of it all, however, is the power of cannabis topicals to help us make the most of our forays into fitness. 

Looks like running may soon have competition as the best high associated with exercise.

Donate to Last Prisoner Project