The hottest thing going right now in the running market when it comes to performance and recovery is definitely CBD or cannabidiol, one of the many Intrigued about CBD and how it can help your running and recovery? Here's our round-up of products to help you do just that CBD oil is now in everything from muscle balms to pillow sprays, but can it really help runners to recover faster? We look at the best CBD oils on the market
Best CBD Products for Runners – A Round-Up of Solutions to Help with Performance and Recovery
The hottest thing going right now in the running market when it comes to performance and recovery is definitely CBD or cannabidiol, one of the many compounds found in the cannabis plant. This association immediately scares most people, but CBD is different than its primary counterpart, THC, in that it lacks any true psychotropic properties. Essentially, CBD doesn’t give you that high feeling often associated with marijuana. Also different from THC based products, CBD is also legal in all 50 states and can be sold and shipped to most as well. Many cultures have been using CBD for years due to its health benefits and its ability to aid in muscle recovery has seen numerous athletes turning to it to help with their training. At The Running Event late last year, the floor was littered with companies trying to enter the market all with a variety of approaches. The real question everyone is asking themselves is what can it do for me and in this article, we jump into a bunch of brands and walk through their offerings.
To start off, we look at the hard question of what CBD is designed to do. It is typically used to reduce muscle pain and decrease inflammation, it helps speed up your recovery time and makes it easier to sleep, and lastly, it plays a role in reducing general stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of calm both in and out of training. It is also 100% natural in its normal state, but of course, it is then refined in many ways depending on the uses and you will find it in everything from topicals to gummies to gels and much much more. The following are some we have selected after 30-60 days of use as best in the breed, not everyone has the same reaction to each brand however so there is some experimentation in this.
The Most Well Rounded CBD Training Lineups
From our perspective, Venga offers one of the most complete CBD endurance and training lines on the market right now. The entire lineup has been built end to end to cover all aspects of your training routine. More than that, their CBD is water-soluble and designed to deliver five times more CBD to your bloodstream than most products you’ll find. Their offering currently consists of three primary products, their Ultra Gels, Aid Station Gummies, and Recovery Balm. They also have a great CBD Guide for Endurance Athletes that is worth a read through, you can find it here.
The full lineup of Venga products
The Ultra Gels also contain Curcumin which in itself helps with inflammation so the combination is supposed to supercharge this. These are water-soluble so it should work quickly and Venga says they can really be used anytime. We found they worked best in the evening as they led into a peaceful sleep and recovery, but in theory, you could easily take these pre-run or even in a run. Each tablet contains 25mg of CBD and features their patent-pending nano-emulsion technology which is all about increasing the absorption rates. A container of 30 gels will run you $99.00 (USD).
A close-up look at the Ultra Gels from Venga
Next up are their Aid Station Gummies (which are vegan and gluten-free!) which for us were perfect in a run. They contain 25mg of CBD each and the citrus flavor is okay, but it’s definitely hard to compete on taste given all the players in this market, but they do the job. You can easily do 1 to 2 an hour and a jar of 30 will run you $49.00 (USD).
Venga Gummies are fully vegan, sport a citrus flavor, and have decent mouth texture during run.
Last up is their Recovery Balm which is perfect after the shower or before bed. They have two jar styles, a 2oz version featuring 1000mg of CBD and a smaller 1oz jar at 500mg. In addition to the CBD, you will find a mix of aromatic essential oils and beeswax and honestly, the smell on this is very minimal which is a huge plus. It doesn’t have the icy hot cooling feeling others do, but it does work well. The large jar is $99.00 (USD) and the smaller is $59.00 (USD).
Venga’s Recovery Balm has that really stiff texture that just melts away as soon as the heat of your fingers touches making it quick to absorb and easy to use. A little can go a long way.
IKOR is a really interesting one and we had a chance to try it right on the show floor at The Running Event in Austin which took us into a longer test. They also have a nice lineup that spans all your needs and where they do a good job is blending CBD with other well known all-natural ingredients to produce a cocktail of sorts. Their lineup includes a recovery shot, a daily tincture, and then a recovery topical.
First up is the IKOR Recovery Shot which is 2oz and probably 100% better tasting than you might expect. It features 22mg of liposomally encapsulated (for absorption) full spectrum hemp extract (13mg of CBD), and then a mix of beetroot, tart cherry, raspberry juice, turmeric, ginger, ashwagandha root, and hyaluronic acid. Pop these bad boys in the fridge and then pull them out before or after exercise, give it a hard shake and you are good to go. Each one costs $5.99 (USD) and you can also buy them in 6 and 12 packs or even subscribe!
This little shot is packed with goodness, but more than anything it just tastes good… unexpectedly so.
Their daily tincture (drops) features 18mg of full-spectrum hemp extract (5mg of CBD) and a nice citrus flavor from the included fruit extracts. It is designed to be used twice a day (morning and night) and at 5 pumps a day should provide about 200 servings. They come in a 1oz tincture for $69.99 (USD) or a 3.5oz version for $179.99 (USD).
Then have some great athletes on their team and you can learn more and buy direct from them on their site.
The Best CBD Options to Just Throw in Your Training Bag
So first off, MuscleMX does offer drops and lotions, but what we truly loved were their balms which we really leaned into and have become a mainstay. Built and packaged much like deodorant, the balms come in two versions, ACTIVATE and RECOVERY, both retailing at $39.99 (USD) for a 2.5oz stick. The Activate version is designed to be used before your workout and like so many others features all-natural ingredients including broad-spectrum CBD, Camphor, Arnica, Peppermint, Beeswax, Coconut, Grapeseed, Eucalyptus, Caffeine, and more. It goes on really easy, heats up a bit, and lasts for at least the first 30 minutes of your exercise. After you pop out of the shower, you can then throw on the Recovery version which really does contain the exact same ingredients in just a bit of a different level mix. Fair warning, the camphor and peppermint gave it a bit of a medicinal smell, but it does work.
MuscleMX comes in Active and Recovery models and they also have travel sizes so you can breeze through security. It doesn’t get any simpler than this, just works like your normal deodorant stick.
You can learn more and buy direct from MuscleMX, make sure to try out their products as well. They also sell travel sizes!
Level Select like many others also makes drops and roll-ons, but in their case, we really leaned into their sports creams. All of their products use a proprietary blend of broad-spectrum and nano CBD for better absorption and the interesting part here is they have lumped all their products into “levels”. Each level is really about the amount of strength needed based on the degree of pain, inflammation, and heaviness of workout. Every 3oz container and the ingredients, for the most part, are identical including that broad-spectrum CBD, Menthol, Rosemary, Arnica, Chamomile, Chestnut, Grape Seed, and more. They also have the same minty smell.
The full lineup from Level Select… one for every level of pain.
For example, Level 1 retails at $39.99 (USD) features 300mg of CBD and it is better for really easy days where a little relaxation is needed. Level 2 comes in at $59.99 (USD) features 600mg of CBD for those harder days and then Level 3 at $89.99 (USD) features 1200mg of CBD which is really for those days when maximum strength is needed.
A close up look at the minty freshness that is Level Select. All of them look the same and consistency is similar to old school cold cream.
Find them on all on the site at https://selectmylevel.com/ and you can use the code BOGO50 to buy one, get one 50% off.
The Best CBD Choices for Those on the Fence About CBD
The products from BLNCD are east to jump into and run the gambit across drops, roll-ons, lotions, salves, and more. We would refer to them more as a Wellness brand than an athletic brand, but the look and feel of the brand make it really easy to introduce this to runners and non-runners alive. Our particular favorite for runners is their CBD Salve for Relief and does have a subtle minty smell which again makes it easily accessible. It contains grapeseed, sunflower, beeswax, arnica, wintergreen, peppermint, eucalyptus, helichrysum, and of course CBD. They come in 500 and 1000mg tins for $50.00 and $80.00 (USD) respectively.
Great branding, super simple, and doesn’t scream CBD. A look at the actual balm which is very similar to Venga visually. It also responds the same way, but with less of a nose.
Last up is Sagely Naturals and one can’t get any more wellness-focused than this brand. It appears ripped from the world of Instagram influencers and every product is ready for a photoshoot. This is definitely a gateway into the world and their products run the gambit from capsules to roll-ons to creams, lotions, serums, oils, and more. Runners will want to focus on their Relief & Recovery lineup which sees broad-spectrum CBD mixed with other ingredients like Turmeric and Black Pepper extracts. For a little additional, check out the Extra Strength models.
The Sagely Naturals lineup is very safe looking for most and is an easy way to bring people into the CBD world.
Their website is a wealth of information and the 101 section alone is a great place to start one’s education. Make sure you signed up for their newsletter for 15% off.
The real conclusion here is that there is no magic pill, but there are folks out there really pushing the needle and this is a good thing for the entire running community. Whether it works for everyone remains to be seen, but CBD is really an amazing all-natural alternative for recovery in our tests. There is a bit of an unknown on the long term use side, but people around the world have been using hemp and CBD for centuries so we can lean on that as a decent test sample. Personally, we have had really amazing success with many of these products. We would love to see some regulation come to bear to really justify the quantities of CBD that are thrown around as right now one really just has to take it on faith. The other area we struggle a bit with is when you have products that contain camphor, menthol, tart cheery, beet, etc then you have to wonder if it’s the CBD or those products and is it worth the extra cost. However, if you feel it is helping you then in the end, stick with what works and in this case… CBD is all the rage, so get on board and give it a shot.
The CBD products that can help running recovery
Intrigued about CBD and how it can help your running and recovery? Here’s our round-up of products to help you do just that
The medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant have been used for centuries to heal and restore health. In ancient times, herbalists and physicians cultivated cannabis extracts to help cure everything from the common cold to indigestion, and in the last few years the active ingredient cannabidiol (CBD) which is found in the plant has created a major buzz in wellness circles.
There are so many health concerns that CBD is thought to help address. From helping you to sleep better after a long run or before a big race to melting away post-workout pain, this wonder ingredient can help to turbocharge training.
Here’s our round-up of some of the latest CBD products to help running recovery.
1. Cheerful Buddha CBD Infused Chocolate
Your perfect post-run healthy indulgence. Made with the finest sustainably sourced single origin cacao and precision infused with UK hemp-derived CBD oil, Cheerful Buddha’s 70% dark CBD chocolate is the ultimate go-to recovery snack. A Great Taste award winner, it delivers all the benefits of high-quality CBD in a deliciously smooth and rich luxury chocolate. Buy it online or from WHSmith Travel stores nationwide.
Available in Plain, Mint and Orange flavour.
2. Ardoa CrossPro CBD Muscle & Joint Recovery Cream 50ml
High in CBD, anti-inflammatory and 100% plant-based, CrossPro Topical is specially formulated to aid in sports related muscle, joint and skin recovery. It combines 18 nourishing botanicals, selected for their therapeutic benefits, with 750mg of pure CBD isolate to create a powerful addition to your post workout routine.
Get £5 off + free shipping with code WRUNFIVE at the checkout.
3. Mission C Pre-Workout + CBD Heating Muscle Balm
Mission C’s Pre-Workout + CBD Heating Muscle Balm is the perfect way to prep your leg muscles before any training run or big race day. Infused with Pure Isolate CBD plus Arnica, Camphor, Menthol and natural essential oils, this luxurious balm intensely heats the muscles, stimulating blood flow while reducing inflammation and providing the required energy boost for your best performance yet.
4. Fourfive CBD Thermal Joint Gel
Designed to keep you moving, this CBD Thermal Joint Gel is the perfect post run saviour. Combining 300mg of premium CBD with active ingredients such as glucosamine, arnica and menthol, this innovative formula is 100% natural and paraben free. Apply the joint gel as and when needed and feel the warming effects on aching joints.
5. Runk CBD Foot Cream
Our feet are what keep us going throughout the miles, so why wouldn’t you want to look after them? They’re often forgotten about, so it’s time to put them on the front foot (pun intended). Runk’s CBD Foot Cream is thick and buttery, and full of natural oils, to provide an intense moisturising treatment for dry and cracked heels. Use after a run to keep your feet in tip top condition! The CBD element can help relieve pain with its anti-inflammatory elements.
£14.95 | runk.co
6. Holistic Herb CBD Oral Drops
Holistic Herbs THC Free CBD Oral Drops use a unique delivery technology, Total Bioavailability™, to enable better absorption into the bloodstream. Model, racing driver and TV personality Jodie Kidd uses these drops as an alternative solution to treat her anxiety and pain. She takes the drops each morning and evening, and through the day as necessary when she has an important meeting or she’s travelling through crowded areas. If it works for Jodie!
Available in single & double strength in 15ml, 30ml & 60ml.
7. Papilio CBD Tiger Balm
For centuries, Tiger Balm has been used to bring relief to tired and aching muscles, to ease headaches or as a decongestant. Combining the wisdom of this ancient recipe with the beneficial properties of CBD, this premium quality balm quickly soothes by massaging just a small amount at the point of discomfort. The perfect addition to any runner’s recovery kit!
Get 20% off CBD Tiger Balm with code RUN20 at checkout.
Valid until 31st December 2022.
8. Runk CBD Joint Relief Cream
Made with natural ingredients to provide pain relief, Runk’s CBD Joint Relief Cream is designed for runners to help the post-run issues. Created with CBD which has anti-inflammatory elements, use this cream to help ease tired muscles and joints post-exercise.
The best CBD oils for runners
CBD oil is now in everything from muscle balms to pillow sprays, but can it really help runners to recover faster and sleep better? We look at the evidence – and at some of the best CBD oils on the market
CBD oil now appears in everything, from muscle balms to pillow sprays to ice cream. It promises everything from helping us sleep better, to improving our recovery from long runs and easing our aches and pains. And the CBD oil marketing machine is clearly working: according to independent research, between 8 and 11% of the UK population have tried it in the last year.
But what is it, and does it really work for those muscle aches and pains? CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of many compounds found within the marijuana plant. Another one of these compounds is THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – and this is the compound that is psychoactive, changing the way your brain works to produce a high. CBD, however, has no psyschoactive effect and – the World Health Organisation agrees – is safe to take.
However, while it may be safe, there’s relatively little information yet about how it works. Graeme Close, Professor of Human Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University, who studies CBD, explains that ‘The scientific literature is a long way behind, because it’s been under prohibition for many years. There is some evidence that it can help with pain management, with anxiety, and with sleep, and obviously those are three really important things from a sports performance perspective,’ says Close. ‘There certainly is a mechanism for all three of them scientifically. It’s just that at the moment I would say the research evidence needs to catch up, to explore these claims better.’
What’s the best way to take it?
As CBD oil is now in everything, you might wonder what’s the best way to take it – oil, capsules, balm or spray? As you’d probably expect, the science shows ingesting it is more effective than rubbing it into your skin. ‘If we looked at a sort of hierarchy,’ says Professor Close, ‘well, I would absolutely by no means want to advocate vaping or smoking, but that appears to be the most effective way to get it into the system. Then it’s the drops under the tongue, then tablets. Even less is known about the balms and things.’
And how much is a good dose to take? It’s hard to say, because research suggests that CBD may react differently in different people. ‘We know that the European Food Safety Authority have set the safe upper limit at 70 milligrammes a day,’ says Professor Close. ‘But we don’t know that’s an effective dose. Also, if a label on a bottle states that a CBD oil contains ‘1,000mg of CBD’ that refers to how much is contained in the entire bottle, So what percentage will be in a few drops?’
One reason the experts are cautious is also issues around quality control. One recent study tested 25 products and found only three of them had anywhere near the CBD content claimed on the label. Another US study looked at 84 samples and found only 26 contained the amount of CBD claimed. More worryingly, 18 of them contained more THC than they said. CBD products sold in the UK must contain no more than 0.2 per cent THC content, but even that would be more than enough to get you banned as an elite athlete. So anyone wanting to avoid THC must be careful to get CBD from a source that tests each and every batch properly. As Grayson Hart, who set up PureSport CBD, says, ‘All our products are tested by BSCG [The Banned Substances Control Group], which tests for all banned substances and contaminants, and certifies that the product is exactly the strength it claims to be. Unfortunately the CBD world is riddled with brands that don’t take that seriously, and are out to make a quick buck’.
In January 2019 the Novel Foods Act included CBD for the first time. This means that to stay on the market, CBD products had to apply for authorisation. This process is ongoing, and products are allowed to stay on the market until examined, but a large number could well be removed. ‘Hopefully then we will get rid of the cowboys, which will just leave the credible brands on the market,’ says Professor Close.
‘At the moment, you could end up spending a lot of money without really knowing what you are getting, and how to take it. But there are some really credible brands who are funding research and doing their best to answer these questions.’