In recent years, CBD has gained popularity among athletes - but is it really worth the hype? We caught up with Gymbox trainers Firas Iskandarani and Stevie Christian to hear how combining CBD with self-myofascial release can aid recovery.
Not too long ago, any mention of CBD (cannabidiol) would have been met with confusion or, worse, the assumption you were using it to get high.
However, over the last year or so CBD has shed most of its negative connotations. It has become immensely popular among individuals from all walks of life, particularly with athletes and those struggling with sleep-deprivation or anxiety.
Now, Gymbox’s ‘Cannabliss’ class should banish any lingering misgivings you may have about CBD. More focused on recovery than getting a sweat on, Cannabliss uses stretching and guided SMR (self-myofascial release – massage balls and foam rollers, essentially) to help eliminate or ease areas of discomfort in the body and help restore tissue.
The moves are supplemented with CBD patches, which helps to combat inflammation and can help to reduce pain.
We caught up with Gymbox Master Trainer Firas Iskandarani, who created the class, and fellow Gymbox instructor and CBD user Stevie Christian, to hear how it can benefit you.
Firas, what inspired you to come up with the concept for Cannabliss?
We’ve been running a Rehab class for years; a class focused on yin yoga style stretches, deep breathing with SMR and end-range conditioning work. We wanted to narrow down the scope a little and have a more pain-relief focused class, so the benefits of CBD seemed to be an ideal combination.
Could you run me through what a class looks like?
The class starts with an introduction to CBD, its benefits and uses. Once the patches are handed out, we do some breath work. This is the ‘warmup’ – in the same way you’d warm up your joints and muscles for a tough workout, we want to prime the diaphragmatic breathing. This allows you to make the most of the stretches and holds as well as the SMR work.
We’ll then usually start with some upper body SMR work, which is followed by longer deep stretches for the region we’ve worked on. This process is then repeated for the lower body.
What benefits do you think the class and the use of CBD can bring?
CBD’s benefits are mainly its anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects, so for me it’s more of a catalyst than an ingredient in the class.
For example, if I were to get you to just spend ten minutes doing deep nasal diaphragmatic breathing while lying down, you’d most likely feel a lot better, and the same applies to the stretches and massage work. These are the meat and potatoes of the class, so to speak - the CBD oil is just the salt and pepper!
Who would you recommend this class to?
Really, a class like Cannabliss is not only useful but a necessity for pretty much anyone, regardless of how active you are.
We are in the same positions for extended periods of time, day in, day out. This is not great for our bodies, both when it comes to muscles and the skeleton, and internally, for the lungs and digestive system.
Likewise, we go hard when we train and often rush the recovery work afterwards – this isn’t great for us either.
How do you think Cannabliss will help athletes and those training regularly?
The addition of CBD patches allows members to down-regulate during class, helping them to still the mind and fully succumb to each position.
Given the proven anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of CBD, we recommend members place the patch on any sore and irritated areas they may have.
I’ve had several members tell me how much better they feel after class due to the healing combination of the patch and the SMR release.
Stevie, what made you decide to give CBD a go, and when did you first try it?
My mother recommended I start taking CBD a few years ago to combat my insomnia and anxiety. While I was sceptical to try it, I felt the results almost instantly. At the time, we had to purchase it in Barcelona as it wasn’t as readily available in the UK.
In what ways has using CBD benefited you?
During the day I regularly vape CBD to counteract my anxiety and find that, combined with some breath work and meditation, I can ease my panic attacks and agitation within a few minutes.
I also take a few drops with a 5 HTP tablet before bed to help me switch off and get a good night’s sleep.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about CBD oil?
Many people see the word cannabis and assume it is illegal, but it’s the THC in marijuana, not the cannabidiol, that is illegal and psychoactive. This is removed from the oil which means that it’s safe and can be consumed legally.
I think many people are slightly dubious that it will work due to its sudden emergence and the fact that it’s an oil from a plant rather than a manufactured medication – I was one of these people, before trying it. Also, people are sceptical has because it has ‘hippy’ connotations because it’s made from a marijuana plant.
However, there is more and more research emerging on how the plant can help with a range of medical issues.
Who would you most recommend the use of CBD to and why?
Any regularly gym goer who struggles with sleep and down-regulation could benefit from including CBD in their supplementation, as rest and recovery is just as important as training itself. If you don’t get good quality, restorative sleep, the body cannot adequately repair itself and the likelihood of injury is greatly increased.