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CBD Workout Gear: Does It Get the Job Done?

CBD workout gear
Written by Sarah Friedman
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The world of products is a large and competitive one, filled with awesome new inventions, and forgettable failures. Sometimes its hard to know what’s just a passing gimmick, what’s nothing more than snake oil, and what’s the real deal. This is the case with CBD workout gear, it sounds quite unique and interesting, but does it actually work?

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What is CBD workout gear?

Before getting to whether it works or not, let’s start with what CBD workout gear actually is. Recently, there has been a huge uptick in cannabis-infused products. This has greatly fueled the edibles industry, which has come out in the last few years with some of the most interesting products including sodas, energy drinks, and gummies among others.

Along with the ability for a wider edibles market, new technologies for cannabis have allowed for cannabinoids to be put in lots of places. Lotions and salves for the skin, shampoos and conditioners for the hair, and patches to go directly in a problem area. There’s even CBD toilet paper, and bedsheets. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there would be an attempt to put something a little medicinal in sportswear. After all, CBD is known to be useful for dealing with pain, as well as helping to relieve inflammation, and heal sore or injured body parts.

CBD workout gear is clothing meant for exercise purposes, that has some amount of CBD infused into the fabric, meant to be released over some period of time. The workout gear is designed to get CBD to specific areas of the body by letting it be released from the fabric onto the skin touching it. Essentially, CBD workout gear is an example of infused-clothing, which is definitely one of the more interesting methods of medicine uptake. How well it works is less defined. It could be that if the technology is still lacking a bit at the moment, that within a few years, things like CBD clothing will become the norm.

CBD activewear

How is CBD workout gear made?

CBD workout gear is clothing that has medicine infused into it through a process called microencapsulation. Microencapsulation means taking microscopic quantities of a substance, and trapping it within a polymer coating, which forms microcapsules. These microcapsules are then attached to fabrics using technology which is often patented, and which is designed to allow the CBD to be released at certain points.

Such technology has already been employed in the textiles industry, and can be seen in fabrics with fragrances, clothing with microcapsules to absorb UV radiation, clothing with thermo-changeable dyes (remember when everyone was wearing shirts that changed color when they sweat?) It can also be seen in car seats with thermo-regulation, has been used in military clothing for bug repellant purposes, and is similar to patches, which use a different kind of material, but which do the same thing.

Simply being able to microencapsulate CBD into a shirt, doesn’t mean it will function as desired, however. How strong the microcapsules are, and what it takes to make them release, are important factors that will determine how effective a product using this method of uptake, will be. As more uses of this technology come into play (like, simply, the idea of applying CBD to workout clothing), the more research goes into developing ways of attaching microcapsules to different materials, immobilization techniques to ensure time-release is done correctly, and new materials that can be used.

In the case of CBD workout gear, CBD is the compound being microencapsulated, with the particles protected by the encapsulation so that the CBD doesn’t evaporate, oxidize, or become contaminated in some way. When enough friction is applied to break the capsules, the CBD is released onto the skin. Since athletes tend to have issues with joints and muscles and injuries in general, the idea of having CBD go directly to a specific location with enough contact, may be very useful for some athletes, particularly if they have issues in particular places where CBD can help.

Workout gear isn’t the only place CBD is showing up. There are also companies selling CBD bedding, including sheets, pillows, and even more. And let’s not forget that hemp clothing itself – even without a CBD injection – is also getting more popular.

CBD workout gear products

One of the first companies to get in on the CBD activewear game, was Acabada ProActiveWear, which put out its first line of CBD-infused activewear in 2019. Acabada came out with a line of sports bras, leggings, biker shorts, tank tops, and jumpsuits. It’s hard to say how the company did, but it did seem to stop business in the beginning of 2020.

workout clothes

According to Acabada, the company used ‘luxury high-performance fabrics’, and that up to 25mg of CBD was infused in strategic places, so that it hit users in the right spot. The company claimed an article of its workout gear could last through 40 wash and wear cycles, even high-intensity ones. The company used a patented textile finishing treatment – which it did not explain – to embed the microcapsules into the fabrics used. The infused parts were done strategically to line up with major muscle groups, so that as a person got into their workout, they’d get micro doses of CBD to where they needed it most.

A newer company which seems to be making it through, is Hue. This company offers CBD-infused leggings for $75. This company is more open about its fabrics, explaining the leggings are made of 47% rayon, 47% cotton, and 6% spandex, and says that the clothing can make it through 30 wash and wear cycles. It did not express in detail the amount of CBD infused. Interested parties should contact the company for more information.

The company also offers CBD-infused socks for $15, which are made of 68% cotton, 29% nylon, 2% spandex, 1% polypropylene. Besides these items, the company also puts out a variety of CBD-infused sleepwear to ensure that those working out, can get a good night sleep as well.

A few logic points

I’m not going to sit here and say that CBD-infused workout gear will actually work, but I don’t necessarily see why it couldn’t, at least to a degree. We already know that fabric can be infused with compounds, after all, that’s how it gets dyed different colors. And we know that sometimes, depending on the compounds used and the type of fabric, that what’s in the fabric can leach out onto our skin. At some point most of us have has dye from our clothing rub off onto our skin if the piece was new, or it got wet, or rubbed enough. So we already know this does technically work.

And we also know that CBD is perfectly accessible through dermal uptake. Dermal uptake means it can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Not only do we know this is possible, but there are plenty of medical products already taking advantage of this form of uptake. Think about creams, and salves, and patches – which much like clothing, offer a time-release piece of material that is next to the skin.

So, in terms of whether it could work, it certainly seems like it should. At the very least it seems if a fabric is worn next to the skin, it should be able to release a compound onto it, and therefore into the bloodstream. How well this can be done in a time-release fashion, and for what period of time, seem like the more important questions, with obvious issues when it comes to things like washing the clothing. And what to do with the clothing when it’s CBD value is gone.

CBD for athletes

Conclusion

It’s hard to know how well something works when its still in beginning phases of production, and without a lot of options. Whatever will become of the CBD clothing industry is therefore hard to say, but enough interest seems to be out there to expect something.

On a personal level, I train almost every day, and I also hurt almost every day. In fact, I’m more surprised when I happen to wake up without pain in my lower back, or when I can’t feel my legs in a negative way. But this pain is part of my life and the activities I do, so the idea that a clothing could be formulated to help with these athletic issues, is of great interest. Maybe the products that will really do this aren’t yet available, and maybe Hue represents the real beginning of the industry.

In the end, I don’t expect this to be a gimmick. If nothing else, I expect there to be a medical value in it, even if it doesn’t ever get big in the recreational market. Think about providing CBD clothing to diabetics, or cancer patients, it could have a massive effect in these areas. And for people like me that choose to rip ourselves apart every day, it’s pretty awesome to think that clothing is being developed to help stave off some of the biggest issues of regularly working out.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

About the author

Sarah Friedman

I am a US born writer, travelling the world and doing the digital nomad thing.

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