(Picture: Gymbox)CBD, the wellness world’s latest miracle offering, has become 2019’s cause celebre. Brands are adding it to everything from milk to beauty products. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s found a way into our fitness routines.
For the uninitiated, CBD (aka cannabidiol) is a chemical compound found in cannabis plants like marijuana and hemp. Unlike its cooler sister, THC, which is the psychoactive substance found in marijuana, CBD doesn’t give you a high when ingested or smoked, so it’s perfectly legal and sold over the counter.
It’s said to treat a whole slew of ailments like anxiety, inflammation and even sleep issues, but is CBD a genuine cure-all, or simply the latest well-marketed health gimmick?
Gymbox has now launched ‘Cannabliss’, a muscle rehab class that incorporates CBD. The class promises to relieve everyday stress and anxiety by getting rid of muscle tension and is aimed at anyone with a sedentary 9-to-5 lifestyle, and/or anyone who does a lot of high intensity strength training.
As someone who fits the bill in both respects I was curious to test out the benefits of the class for myself, especially since I’m always sceptical about any wellness fad that purports to be a miracle cure for modern-day life.
Can CBD be a fitness supplement?
There seems to be anecdotal evidence that CBD is an effective fitness aid, but scientific research on the topic is inconclusive at best. It’s touted to have anti-inflammatory, pain-relief and cortisol-balancing effects on the body, meaning relief from muscle aches and tightness.
Working out causes tiny tears in our muscles that cause inflammation. This triggers the body’s repair process, but too much inflammation can lead to strains, aches and injuries.
Supposedly, this is where CBD comes in.
When applied – whether through topical creams, capsules, sprays, or otherwise – it provides a faster and more natural way for your muscles to recover. Although there’s no conclusive scientific proof, CBD is said to help curb post-workout stiffness and soreness, and allowing more flexibility and a shorter recovery time.
‘CBD interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoid system, helping to reduce the inflammation induced by exercise,’ Fiona Lawson, a nutritional therapist and CannabiGold spokesperson, tells Metro.co.uk.
‘We do know that CBD oil can modulate the immune system, thereby helping to reduce inflammation. On a very basic level, intensive or endurance-based exercise acts as a stressor for the body [and] it may feel like CBD oil helps with post-exercise recovery because it quells the inflammatory response to exercise, thus reducing soreness and muscle fatigue. CBD oil is also known to support sleep and relaxation, both of which boost recovery.
‘Before exercise it may help to reduce muscle fatigue during exertion. After exercise, it may help with soreness.
‘This is based purely on our best knowledge of the biological mechanisms involved. It’s important that consumers understand that, at this stage at least, most exercise-related benefits are conjecture rather than fact. Experiment and see what works for you.’
The Cannabliss class
(Picture: Gymbox)Given that the class was called Cannabliss I was expecting something along the lines of an opium den in a hippie retreat, but the experience wasn’t as new age, nor as cringe. There was no incense, healing crystals or trippy music in sight.
Our instructor Stevie handed each of us a CBD patch and told us to apply it anywhere on our body. If there was a spot that felt tight or ache-y, we should stick it on there, if not anywhere else would do. We were also told that the CBD patch was completely optional, which made me suspect that perhaps it would have no significant effect.
We began by lying down (bodes well for relaxation) while Stevie guided us through some breathing exercises, followed by static stretches. Then came the pain – but in a good way.
We were each handed a rubber lacrosse-sized ball and shown a series of self-massage techniques to release tension from ‘trigger points’ in our body.
The ball was used along the IT band (the long tendon that runs from your pelvis to your shin), under each glute, hip, and shoulder blade.
The idea was to lie down on the ball and roll it repeatedly until we found the spot that hurt like hell. If it was unbearable, it was working. This technique would reach tight spots in our muscles and fascia that traditional stretches or foam-rolling can’t.
The class was definitely calming, and any tightness in my muscles disappeared by the end of it, but I don’t know how much of that was down to the CBD patch. Aside from providing a cooling and slightly tingly sensation similar to Deep Heat, I couldn’t notice any effects.
We were told that all that stretching combines with CBD’s anti-anxiety properties would help us catch more Z’s that night, with a chance of having weird dreams. I can fully attest to that, because I fell asleep on the tube ride home (something which has never happened in my seven years of commuting through London) and had one of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had.
The jury is still out whether the CBD patch had miracle abilities or if it was a mere placebo, but I left the class chilled-out, flexible and void of aches, so Cannabliss did what it says on the tin.
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