Athletes at all levels are familiar with the muscle stiffness, general soreness and poor sleep that can set in after an extra-tough workout or race. Most of us just accept it as the price we pay for getting stronger and faster, however this constant discomfort doesn’t have to be the case.

I’ve been a runner for 15 years and a triathlete for seven. I’ve done race distances from 5k to marathon, from sprint to Ironman. Along the way I’ve tried a long list of recovery methods for everything from IT Band pain to simple fatigue.

Of all the methods for treatment, I’ve had the most success with cannabis cream, lotion, muscle balm, external spray, and bath salt.

For the uninitiated, using these products externally does not leave you with the euphoria commonly associated with smoking, vaping or edibles. And it doesn’t show up on any drug test, which means you can focus on what’s important – your health.

You Can’t Beat Topical Cannabis

The aches and pains athletes experience are the result of micro-tears and inflammation in muscles. These are actually small injuries that must be tended to in the hours immediately after exercise for continued solid performance and good health.

Cannabis topicals could revolutionize the sports world.

Cannabis cream could revolutionize the sports world.

Cannabis-infused topicals are exceptional for sports recovery because unlike topicals that use menthol and camphor, marijuana doesn’t trick your body into “looking the other way” from the source of the pain. Instead, the cannabinoid compounds found in the herb activate receptors in your skin at the spot of the injury. They work with your body to address the source of the problem without causing more discomfort.

Not to be confused with hemp-based skin treatments, cannabis topicals can include CBD, THC, and THCA along with other therapeutic or aromatic oils.

As with any other market, you’ll want to do a little research to find the best brand and type of topical application for you.

In my experience, athletes need four things from a pain-relief solution:

  • Fast-acting
  • Long-lasting
  • Effective
  • Pleasant and easy to use

Here’s how each cannabis topical stacks up.

Relax and Heal with Lotions and Creams

Lotions and creams work best for mild or early-stage soreness. They are easy to use on a small area or particular muscle group. The cannabis-infused varieties I’ve tried have a silky texture and absorb into the skin quickly. I usually experience a noticeable relief within 10-15 minutes that lasts for 8-10 hours – way longer than an ice pack or ibuprofen.

An additional advantage of applying CBD externally is that it provides anti-fungal, skin-smoothing relief for chafing and blisters. These lotions are made with herbs and natural oils formulated to have a pleasant, relaxing aroma.

Cannabis massage lotion penetrates, soothes, and relaxes those tense muscles.

Marijuana massage lotion penetrates, soothes, and relaxes those tense muscles.

During my most recent marathon training, I took full advantage of CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits, using the lotion as part of a sports massage, one of the most recommended methods of muscle recovery.

Use Salves and Balms for Deeper,
More Localized Pain

Balms or salves go a step beyond lotions. They stay on the skin longer and penetrate deeper into the muscle, working best for the more severe localized pain from DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness,) or joint pain in knees and hips.

This type of application also takes effect quickly, sometimes in as little as five minutes. I’ve experienced relief from cannabis balms that lasts as long as 10 hours, which takes away the need to continually reapply to keep the relief going.

Nobody is calling cannabis cream a miracle, but it certainly works a lot better and a lot longer than most other products.

Nobody is calling cannabis creams and lotions a miracle, but they certainly work a lot better and a lot longer than most other products.

For me, cannabis salves have long been the best remedy for a sore neck after long cycling workouts and for deep pain caused by working neglected muscle groups in the gym.

Best of all, these balms don’t have the pungent menthol odor that lingers on your skin for hours, nor do they come with the burning sensation caused by irritants used in other products.

Cannabis Spray is Versatile and
Easy to Carry

Especially convenient when you’re on the move, cannabis spray provides the same analgesic, antimicrobial properties as the other cannabis topicals.

No matter your athletic level, we all deserve the best medicine available when it comes to treating and healing our bodies.

No matter your athletic level, we all deserve the best medicine available when it comes to treating and healing our bodies.

Topical spray is a favorite for skin infections such as insect bites, cuts or athlete’s foot. Yet it has also been reported as a relief for muscle tension or rheumatic joints.

Soak in Cannabis Bath Salt
for Full-Body Relief

For generalized body ache, nothing beats a soak in cannabis bath salt, which can help you and your body to get some much-needed restful sleep for athletic recovery.

Remedy that full-body ache with a soak in cannabis bath salt so you can get the rest and sleep you deserve.

Remedy that full-body ache with a soak in cannabis bath salt so you can get the rest and sleep you deserve.

A soak in a hot bath using a cannabis-infused bath salt gives immediate all-over relief with a wonderful aromatherapy experience to boot.

A bath soak has been my go-to recovery from the beginning of my endurance sport career. I used plain Epsom salt for years, but I’ve found the THC-infused variety provides a level of relaxation that other salts can’t.

Healing Your Body with
the Best Medicine

Poor recovery is one of the main culprits in poor training and racing performance. Anyone who’s tried to push themselves without thorough recovery – myself included – can attest to the “lead legs” and massive fatigue.

Is it a matter of time before ALL athletes start using cannabis topicals?

Is it a matter of time before ALL athletes start using cannabis topicals?

Cannabis topicals are tailor-made for the type of healing a proper recovery regimen demands. They deliver better, faster relief and a better holistic experience. They feel like and are natural medicine, and they work really well because cannabis is indeed the best medicine.

These products are available from recreational dispensaries (no medical marijuana license needed) and medical dispensaries.

If you’ve benefited from topical cannabis, we’d love to hear your story below. And if you think others can benefit, share this article with your social media networks. Let people know they don’t have to live in pain.