Best CBD Products for Muscle Soreness

CBD is becoming a staple in muscle pain salves, ointments, and creams. Here’s a list of our top CBD supplements and topicals for muscle soreness and recovery.

Article By
Justin Cooke , posted 2 months ago

Muscle pain can result from injuries, underlying medical conditions, chronic stress, or recovery from a rigorous workout. It can affect our quality of life, keep us out of the gym, and make it harder to do normal daily activities. 

Recently, CBD (cannabidiol) has taken the stage as one of the primary ingredients for muscle salves, recovery supplements, and massage oils designed for reducing muscle pain and discomfort. It’s a non-psychoactive compound — which has risen to popularity for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and muscle-relaxant activity. People are using it in place of conventional pain-killers for common symptoms involving pain and inflammation. 

With so many new CBD products entering the market, each promoting similar benefits, it can be hard to decide which product to spend your money on.

After all, no one wants to spend their hard-earned money on snake oils.

In this article, we’ll cover our top-rated CBD products for muscle soreness and provide some insight into what we look for in a quality CBD brand.

  • Table of Contents

Best CBD For Muscle Soreness & Recovery

NumberProductTotal CBDPotencyCost per mg CBDLink

1

Ojai Energetics Sports Gel

100 mg

3.33 mg/mL

$0.46

2

Kat’s Naturals Pain CBD Cream w/ Capsaicin

350 – 1400 mg

11.6 mg/mL

$0.11 – $0.13

3

Medterra CBD Rapid Cooling Cream

250 – 750 mg

2.5 – 7.5 mg/mL

$0.12 – $0.20

4

NuLeaf Naturals CBD Oil

240 – 4850 mg

48.5 mg/mL

$0.09 – $0.16

5

Lazarus Naturals CBD Massage Oil

200 – 1600 mg

3.4 mg/mL

$0.04 – $0.06

1. Best CBD Topical for Sore Muscles & Recovery

This water-soluble CBD sports gel is specifically formulated for supporting muscle recovery. This includes promoting the regeneration of muscle tissue, curbing inflammation, and alleviating DOMS muscle pain after a tough workout.

This formula contains a mild dose of CBD (3.33 mg/mL) — but this doesn’t take away from its usefulness. In fact, it’s well-justified in order to leave room for the myriad of other beneficial ingredients added to the formula.

Ojai Energetics Sports Gel contains moringa, para cress, wild cherry, buchu, arnica, rosemary, calendula, and a variety of essential oils traditionally used to support muscle recovery.


2. Best Warming CBD Rub

$45.00 – $160.00
Kat’s Naturals

Kat’s Naturals Pain CBD Cream w/ Capsaicin 28 mL (1 oz) – 120 mL (4 oz)

4.33 / 5

  • Total CBD:

    350 – 1400 mg

  • Potency :

    11.6 mg/mL

  • Cost per mg CBD:

    $0.11 – $0.13

  • Extract Type:

    Isolate

  • THC Content:

    0.0%

Kat’s Naturals makes three pain rubs — one with another herb known as arnica, this one with capsaicin, and another version with high-strength CBD. Although we love all of these topicals, we’ve found the warming cream with capsaicin (the active constituent that makes chili peppers spicy) to the best for sore muscles.

The warming effect promotes blood flow to the muscles — bringing in fresh nutrients and clearing our metabolic waste faster to promote a speedy recovery.

The warming sensation with this cream is perfect — not too hot that it makes your skin turn all red and inflamed, but warm enough that you can feel it.

This stuff is great. We recommend keeping some in your gym bag or medicine cabinet to use after a tough workout, or to after an injury.


3. Best Cooling CBD Cream

$49.99 – $77.99
Medterra

Medterra CBD Rapid Cooling Cream 100 mL

4.5 / 5

  • Total CBD:

    250 – 750 mg

  • Potency:

    2.5 – 7.5 mg/mL

  • Cost per mg CBD:

    $0.10 – $0.20

  • Extract Type:

    Isolate

  • THC Content:

    0.0%

This cooling cream from Medterra is made with a blend of arnica, menthol, and CBD. The CBD provides the bulk of the pain-relieving effects, while the menthol provides a gentle cooling action.

Arnica is a popular herbal medicinal plant species used to speed healing wounds, broken bones, and irritated skin and serves as a great addition to this formula to speed up the recovery process.

This formula is extremely versatile in its uses. You can apply for wounds and injuries, sunburns, joint pain or muscle recovery after a workout. You can find this product in two strengths. Although the lower strength option may be sufficient for small cuts, scratches, and burns, the high-potency option is preferable for muscle recovery, joint pain, or more severe injuries.


4. Best CBD Oil for Muscle Pain

Nuleaf Naturals makes some really top-notch CBD products. The company places an emphasis on using premium starting hemp and keep up with regular quality-control testing through independent labs. Their products are both simple, yet effective — a concept that is embodied perfectly in their lineup of CBD oils.

These oils are made with a full-spectrum hemp extract and high-quality hemp seed oil. These oils only come in one potency — 48 mg/mL — keeping things simple for their customers.

We love this decision, as it ensures that nobody makes the mistake of ordering CBD oil that was too weak to do them any good. It’s easier to take a smaller dose of a high potency oil than it is to get the right dose with a low potency oil.


5. Best CBD Massage Oil for Sore Muscles

$12.00 – $70.00
Lazarus Naturals

Lazarus Naturals CBD Massage Oil 60 – 480 mL

4.17 / 5

  • Total CBD:

    200 – 1600 mg

  • Potency Range:

    3.4 mg/mL

  • Cost per mg CBD:

    $0.04 – $0.06

  • Extract Type:

    Full-spectrum

  • THC Content:

    LOQ

There’s nothing quite like a massage when your muscles are feeling tight. What better than a massage oil infused with active CBD!

This massage oil contains just 3.3 mg/mL of CBD. This is relatively low, — however, when using the oil for massages, the oil covers a large surface area on the skin. This gives the oil a good opportunity to work its way into the skin and muscle (carrying the CBD along with it).


Causes of Muscle Soreness

The first step to determining the best CBD product for you is to have a basic understanding of what’s causing the muscle soreness.

1. Exercise

Exercise is a common cause of muscle discomfort. That low to high-grade muscle ache experienced the day after a tough workout can be enough to interrupt our ability to function throughout the day.

There are two main causes of muscle soreness that can be caused by exercise — DOMS, and injuries.

We’ll discuss injuries in the next section. For now, let’s take a closer look at DOMS — what is it?

DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness — this pain is perfectly healthy (though uncomfortable). It happens as the muscle fibers repair themselves between workouts. DOMS pain usually begins 24 hours after the workout and can last up to three days after the workout.

We recommend using a CBD topical for this form of pain. A product with a cooling action is ideal for avoiding the burn before it begins, and a warming cream is effective for alleviating the soreness when it’s already set in.

2. Muscle Injuries

Muscle injuries are very common — they can be the result of exercise-induced injuries, falls, accidents, poor posture, or other forms of physical trauma. We usually refer to this form of muscle pain as a strain or sprain depending on the severity of the injury.

This pain will usually come on quickly and causes sharp pain in the muscle. This is not a healthy burn. The pain can last several weeks depending on the severity of the injury and which muscle group is affected.

Muscle injuries can take a long time to heal, so it’s important to be consistent with your CBD use. Personal preference can vary, but most people prefer using CBD salves or ointments that have a mild warming effect for alleviating the sharp pain caused by muscle injuries.

3. Other Medical Disorders

Many other underlying medical disorders can cause muscle pain.

Of course, each of these underlying medical disorders will involve a different focus for treatment. In most cases, CBD oils and topicals can be used to support the symptoms of muscle soreness.

Some potential underlying causes of muscle soreness include:

  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lyme disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Influenza
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Stress and muscle tension
  • Magnesium deficiencies
  • Multiple sclerosis

How CBD Helps with Muscle Pain & Soreness

CBD works through three main mechanisms when it comes to alleviating muscle pain:

A. CBD Blocks Pain Signals from Reaching the Brain

Our bodies are loaded with pain receptors designed to warn the brain when something is wrong. Once triggered, a pain receptor sends a message up to the brain where it can be interpreted as pain.

CBD exerts a pain-killing effect in three places — the site of injury (through its anti-inflammatory activity), as well as the spinal cord and brain (through its modulating effects on the opioid and vanilloid pain receptors).

B. CBD Lowers Inflammatory Causes of Muscle Pain

Inflammation is a process the body uses to recover from damage. Immune cells will flood into an injured area to clean out waste, forcing oxygen and nutrient-rich blood into the area to speed up the recovery process.

One of the other things inflammation does is activate the pain receptors. This helps to remind us that there’s damage to the area and to make sure we’re careful not to cause more damage until we’ve healed.

When we lower inflammation in the region, we can also reduce the pain that follows.

CBD has a profound effect on inflammation, offering inhibitory effects on over a dozen unique inflammatory messengers in the human body.

C. CBD Relaxes Tight and Spastic Muscle Fibers

When we injure our muscles, it often causes other muscle fibers in the area to seize up — sometimes going into a spasm. This can be extremely painful, making it difficult for the body to orchestrate the recovery process.

CBD is a strong muscle relaxant, helping to relieve the pain associated with the tension and spasms in the short-term and speeding up the recovery process in the long-term.

Tips for Choosing the Best CBD for Muscle Soreness

1. When to Use CBD Topically vs. Internally

 CBD OilsCBD E-LiquidCBD Topicals
Strengths• Better for reaching deep muscle tissues
• Provides direct pain inhibition on the opioid pain receptors
• Offers additional relaxing benefits
•  Provides the fastest relief from symptoms
•  The most convenient form of using CBD
• Delivers CBD directly to the muscle
• Best for surface level muscle pain and inflammation
• Provides fast relief locally
Weaknesses• Doesn’t provide a strong dose of CBD to the affected area directly
• Can be too sedating in high doses for some people
• May not provide enough relief to the muscle itself
• Requires you to vape, which may be harmful to health in other ways
• Can be messy
• Hard to reach a high dose of CBD to muscles found deeper below the skin

There are advantages and disadvantages to all the different types of CBD products when it comes to muscle soreness — however, most people using CBD, for this reason, prefer a topical product to internal CBD oils or vape oils.

This is because topical CBD products such as pain salves and ointments are much better at delivering the active cannabinoids to the site of injury. Topical products help reduce inflammation in the area, speed healing and recovery of the muscle tissue, and block a lot of the pain and discomfort in the area directly.

For deeper muscle injuries or muscle soreness caused from other cases like autoimmune disorders, bone damage, or muscle tension and stress, it’s best to use a combination of topical CBD and a form of internal CBD such as CBD oils, capsules, or vape oils.

2. Look at the Potency of the Products You’re Using

When it comes to using CBD for pain and inflammation — not all products are created equal.

There are plenty of CBD products out there, but not all of them are going to provide a strong enough dose of CBD for the desired effects.

For minor symptoms, or as a general health supplement, this is less important — however, for alleviating muscle soreness it’s critical that you use a product that has a higher concentration of the active ingredients. Otherwise, you’re just going to waste your money on CBD products that won’t provide the relief you’re looking for.

Reaching Optimal CBD Potency For Muscle Soreness With Different Form of Ingestion
Product TypesRecommended Minimum Potency
CBD Oils 33 mg/mL
CBD Topicals 8 mg/mL
CBD Capsules 15 mg/mL
CBD Vape Oils 10 mg/mL

Of course, you can use lower potency options for most of these products — it just means you’ll need to use more of it to reach the desired effects. Most people using CBD for muscle injuries report they need to take a higher dose in order to feel its effects.

This means that if you order a low-potency CBD oil, the bottle won’t last as long because you’ll need to take more of the oil to reach your desired dose.

Always looks for a CBD salve, balm, or cream with at least 8 mg of CBD for every mL — the higher is even better. 

3. Be Patient and Consistent

CBD is a powerful supplement for many different causes of muscle pain and discomfort. Depending on the condition, the type of CBD you use, and your body’s reaction to CBD — it can take some time to produce any benefits.

Be patient with your CBD supplementation or topical use. Some people report benefits after just 1 hour, others report the maximum benefits are only reached after a week or two or regular use.

Here are some general guidelines as to how long you can expect the CBD to work. Keep in mind these are just estimates and your results will vary.

Topical CBD Expected Wait Times

Cause of Muscle SorenessExpected Timeframe For ReliefExpected Timeframe For Maximum Benefit
Stress & Tension 15 – 60 minutes1 – 2 days
Post-Exercise Recovery 15 – 60 minutes1 – 2 days
Ligament Injury 15 – 60 minutes3 – 6 weeks
Joint Injury 15 – 60 minutes2 – 4 weeks
Torn Muscle 15 – 60 minutes1 – 3 weeks
Muscle Sprain 15 – 60 minutes1 – 2 weeks
Autoimmune Disorder 1 – 8 hours3 – 5 weeks
Compartment Syndrome 15 – 60 minutes3 – 5 days

Internal CBD Expected Wait Times

Cause of Muscle SorenessExpected Timeframe For ReliefExpected Timeframe For Maximum Benefit
Stress & Tension 1 – 3 hours3 – 7 days
Post-Exercise Recovery 3 – 8 hours3 – 7 days
Ligament Injury 1 – 3 hours3 – 5 weeks
Joint Injury 1 – 3 hours2 – 3 weeks
Torn Muscle 1 – 3 hours1 – 2 weeks
Muscle Sprain 1 – 3 hours1 – 2 weeks
Autoimmune Disorder 1 – 2 weeks3 – 5 months
Compartment Syndrome 1 – 3 hours1 – 2 weeks

4. Read the Ingredient list

As with many of the other uses of CBD, it’s best to find products formulated with other ingredients to make the effects even stronger. CBD is great, there’s no question about it, but we can make it even better by combining the compound with other beneficial ingredients that can help reduce pain, ease muscle tension, and speed healing.

The best formula will vary a lot depending on the cause of the muscle soreness.

There are some formulas designed to fight inflammation, others more specific for athletic recovery or symptomatic pain relief.

(Kat’s Naturals CBD Pain Cream w/ Capsaicin)
Some Beneficial Ingredients Often Added to CBD Products for Muscle Soreness
Ingredient What is it? What does it do?
Arnica (Arnica montana) Arnica is a small flower found growing in the rocky mountains. It’s been used in traditional medical systems for generations for speeding wound healing, preventing bruising, and alleviating muscle and bone pain. Arthritis, torn muscles, and ligaments, bruising, broken bones, muscle tightness.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It has a rich history of use in India under the Ayurvedic medical system for treating a wide range of illnesses. Athletic injuries, strains, and sprains, compartment syndrome, fibromyalgia.
Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) Frankincense resin is obtained from a drought-resistant tree in the middle east. The resin is a potent antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory. Athletic injuries, inflammatory conditions, compartment syndrome, sprains and strains, gout pain.
Capsaicin (Active compound in Capsicum annuum) Capsaicin is the compound responsible for producing the warming effect in chili peppers. Capsaicin gives topicals a warming sensation, helps improve blood flow to the muscles, and alleviates pain.
Magnesium (Element) Magnesium is an important mineral for bone, joint, and muscle health. It’s the 9th most abundant mineral in the human body. Best for athletic injuries, speeding muscle recovery and alleviates muscle tightness or spasm.
Menthol (Active compound in Mentha piperita) This is the active constituent that gives mint its cooling effect. Menthol is great for people looking for a cooling effect on the muscles. This makes it useful for hot inflammatory conditions, and muscle tension.
(The peppermint plant — Mentha piperita — is the source of menthol, a cooling agent often used in topical pain creams and salves)

Key Takeaways: Best CBD for Muscle Soreness

Both internal CBD (oils, capsules, and vaporization) and topical CBD (creams, salves, ointments, balms) are useful for muscle soreness.

Internal CBD & Sore MusclesTopical CBD & Sore Muscles
  • Fights inflammation around the body, including the muscles and surrounding tissue
  • Provides systemic muscle relaxant effects
  • Alleviates pain by interacting with the vanilloid and opioid receptors in the spinal cord and brain
  • Provides support for a variety of potential underlying causes of difficult to treat muscular pain
  • Delivers a high dose of CBD and other beneficial phytochemicals directly to the site of injury
  • Great for fast-acting pain-relief
  • Supports muscle recovery between workouts and alleviates the discomfort of DOMS

Choosing the right product to buy comes down to the underlying cause of the pain, and which muscle groups are affected.

The rule of thumb is that topicals are much better for surface-level pain, and muscle groups with large surface areas for the CBD to absorb through.

Internal CBD, on the other hand, is better for soreness in muscle groups that are smaller, deeper, or more widespread throughout the body. This form of CBD supplementation is also better for pain that hasn’t responded to conventional muscle relaxants or pain killers, like fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis type pain.

For optimal effects, we recommend using CBD both topically, and internally to provide all-around support.

Top-Rated CBD Products For Muscle Recovery

NumberProductTotal CBDPotencyCost per mg CBDLink

1

Ojai Energetics Sports Gel

100 mg

3.33 mg/mL

$0.46

2

Kat’s Naturals Pain CBD Cream w/ Capsaicin

350 – 1400 mg

11.6 mg/mL

$0.11 – $0.13

3

Medterra CBD Rapid Cooling Cream

250 – 750 mg

2.5 – 7.5 mg/mL

$0.12 – $0.20

4

NuLeaf Naturals CBD Oil

240 – 4850 mg

48.5 mg/mL

$0.09 – $0.16

5

Lazarus Naturals CBD Massage Oil

200 – 1600 mg

3.4 mg/mL

$0.04 – $0.06

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