Athletes have a lot of demands placed on their bodies, from long training sessions to tough competitions. To stay in peak physical condition, athletes need to find ways to manage muscle pain and inflammation, reduce stress levels, and improve recovery time. While there are many treatments available for athletes looking for relief, an increasingly popular option is cannabidiol (CBD).
In this article, we’ll explore the potential benefits of CBD for athletes and highlighting the best CBD for athletes. We'll also outline some research that supports the use of CBD in sports.
Athletes who use CBD for Sports Performance
CBD (or cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. This compound exists in many forms and is quickly becoming popular among athletes. Let’s take a look at some of these athletes:
MMA Fighter Nate Diaz
Diaz famously uses CBD for muscle recovery and its anti-inflammatory benefits. Diaz states, “I believe CBD is a healing world,” he credits it with helping him recover faster from his MMA bouts. For Diaz, CBD helps alleviate muscle soreness and pain after a match, allowing him to return to the gym quicker. Diaz also uses CBD for its anti-anxiety benefits, which help him perform better on fight nights. More MMA fighters are following suit and ditching addictive opiates for CBD.
NBA Player Al Harrington
Retired NBA Player Al Harrington believes in the power of CBD so much that he founded Viola Extracts, a hemp extraction company offering hemp products that include CBD oil. Harrington firmly believes that “CBD helps athletes in many ways, from calming nerves to reducing inflammation” and can help athletes take their game to the next level without the risks associated with taking painkillers. Al Harrington has also recently partnered with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) to push a CBD product line that will be available on major marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart.
NFL Player Derrick Morgan
Morgan advocates CBD and regularly uses it to manage pain after games, practices, and workouts. This NFL star player uses CBD to help reduce inflammation and soreness and manage stress levels during the season. Morgan found it much easier to manage his body and mind with CBD compared to the side effects of taking painkillers.
Heavyweight Boxer Shannon Briggs
According to Shannon Briggs, weed and CBD saved his career and prepared him to fight again after a severe depression. For Briggs, CBD is the best way to relieve suicidal thoughts and emotional imbalances. The heavyweight boxer also runs a CBD product company, Champ RX LLC, that provides CBD products to help athletes manage their post-game and post-training pain. His push for CBD use in sports is also fueled by disgust for opioids, which he claims have taken the lives of many athletes.
Women’s Soccer Legend Megan Rapinoe
Megan Rapinoe is a longtime user of CBD and an advocate of CBD in sports. Rapinoe says she uses CBD for its anti-inflammatory benefits to help her muscles and joints recover faster after workouts and improve her mood. She also finds that using CBD is far better than Advil and other pain management medications that she had previously used. She believes that CBD is one of the only supplements she has used to improve her performance while maintaining a healthy attitude.
Olympic Skier Gus Kenworthy
Gus Kenworthy, the Olympic skier, claims that he uses CBD to sleep better at night and reduce muscle inflammation after training or competing. With quality sleep being an important part of recovering from hard workouts and competitions, Kenworthy finds that CBD helps him maintain balance during high-stress and activity periods. He also dedicates time to educating his global audience on the benefits of CBD in sports.
Despite the growing number of athletes endorsing CBD in sports, there is still controversy surrounding its use. CBD sports products are perceived as a performance-enhancing drug as they offer several benefits to athletes, such as physical and mental performance, energy, and recovery.
Benefits of CBD for Athletes
CBD is being touted as a miracle supplement for reducing inflammation, pain, anxiety, and stress in athletes. Here are some CBD benefits for athletes in more detail:
Pain relief is one of the oldest known benefits of cannabis, which dates back centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. In this section, we will discuss how CBD helps with pain relief.
Explanation of pain relief through CBD
Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce inflammation and act directly on pain receptors, both of which are associated with chronic pain relief. For instance, when CBD pain relief salve is used on sore muscles and joints, it interacts with a network of receptors to provide relief from localized pain and inflammation.
Research evidence supporting CBD as a pain reliever
Arthritis patients who use CBD share that they experienced less pain during the period of use, which helped them sleep better. The National Institute of Health also noted that CBD has analgesic properties, which can help athletes manage pain associated with strenuous physical activity.
- Best CBD for bone healing: Full Spectrum CBD Oil
The anti-inflammatory nature of CBD is one of its biggest draws for athletes, as they are increasingly using CBD oil for recovery from inflammation.
Explanation of inflammation reduction through CBD
Research has shown that CBD can help reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body, thus reducing overall inflammation significantly.
Research evidence supporting CBD as an anti-inflammatory
Recent clinical studies confirm the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD and have shown it to accelerate wound healing in diabetic patients possibly.
- Best CBD for muscle recovery: Hemp Muscle Rub
- Best CBD oil for muscle recovery: Full Spectrum CBD oil
Anxiety and Stress Relief
CBD has powerful anti-anxiety properties, which can help athletes manage stress before competition or intense training sessions.
Explanation of anxiety and stress relief through CBD
CBD helps reduce anxiety levels by mimicking the effects of our natural endocannabinoid system, thus ensuring that we balance our mental and physical well-being.
Research evidence supporting CBD as an anti-anxiety agent
CBD has become a popular method of relieving anxiety and stress amongst athletes such that it is now “hype.” But is CBD being hyped for no reason? According to a medical survey published in the National Library of Medicine, CBD is shown to be beneficial to people with mental health-related problems such as anxiety, so the hype around it can be justified.
Better Sleep Quality
Quality sleep is important for athletes pushing their bodies to their limits during intense training sessions.
Explanation of improved sleep quality through CBD
CBD helps promote better quality sleep by reducing stress levels before bedtime and helping us unwind after an exhausting day of physical activity or competition.
Research evidence supporting CBD as a sleep aid
According to research, CBD regulates REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, a deep sleep stage essential for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and emotional well-being.
CBD for Gut Health
CBD is known to play an important role in gut health due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD and Inflammation in the Gut
Studies have shown that CBD can help reduce inflammation in the gut, leading to improved digestion and nutrient absorption. This is especially beneficial for athletes as it helps them maintain optimal energy levels while also helping to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disorders.
CBD and Gut Microbiome
CBD has also successfully managed the effects of IRS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and can help balance the gut microbiome by providing our beneficial bacteria with necessary nutrients and increasing their populations. This, in turn, helps improve overall immune function and decrease the risk of infection.
The Science Behind CBD for Sports Performance
As stated earlier, cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound in the cannabis plant that has become increasingly popular among athletes and sports enthusiasts due to its many potential health benefits. CBD has been associated with reduced inflammation, improved focus and concentration, better sleep, improved gut health, and more. Let’s look at the science behind the use of this compound in sports.
Mechanisms of action for CBD
To understand how CBD works in the body, we need to understand the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a physiological system composed of endocannabinoids and receptors throughout the body. These cannabinoids interact with the receptors to regulate physiological processes such as pain, mood, sleep, and appetite. When
CBD is introduced into the body; it binds to receptors in the ECS and modulates their activity. This can lead to various effects, such as reduced inflammation, improved sleep quality, enhanced focus and concentration, and better gut health.
Clinical Evidence of CBD Efficacy
Although limited clinical evidence supports the use of CBD for sports performance, a 2022 pilot study investigating the acute effects of oral CBD (300 mg) on physiological and psychological responses to aerobic exercise in endurance-trained males revealed that CBD could improve certain aspects of exercise, such as oxygen consumption and feelings of pleasure, without impairing performance.
A second CBD study revealed that CBD could be particularly beneficial for athletes recovering from injuries or who experience muscle soreness after intense training sessions, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD was also shown to have antioxidant properties, which can help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which helps athletes to recover faster.
Some research has differentiated the efficacy of CBD based on the targeted issues it intends to solve or manage. For instance, CBD for athletes dealing with topical issues such as joint pain, soreness, or muscle tension might result in better outcomes than treating anxiety. Similarly, using CBD oils for athletes dealing with insomnia and difficulty sleeping might result in better outcomes than using them for treating inflammation.
Potential Side Effects and Risks
Although CBD has many potential benefits for sports performance, it is important to consider the potential side effects and risks associated with its use.
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), specifically the CB1 receptors, primarily in the brain and the central nervous system. Activation of these receptors decreases the activity of certain neurotransmitters, such as glutamate and noradrenaline, which are involved in arousal and wakefulness. CBD also interacts with serotonin receptors, which can have a calming effect on the mind and body, causing drowsiness.
CBD can cause gastrointestinal distress, resulting in nausea, vomiting, and digestive discomfort. This is due to the interaction of CBD with the ECS, which regulates various bodily functions, including digestion. However, CBD oil salves and other topical products like CBD sports balm can alleviate this adverse effect by directly applying the compound to the skin, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract.
Dry Mouth (Cottonmouth)
A dry mouth, also known as a cottonmouth, is another common side effect of CBD use. CBD interacts with the CB1 receptors found in the salivary glands, resulting in decreased saliva production. This can lead to a dry mouth and an increase in thirst. While this side effect is generally mild, it can be uncomfortable, and it is important to stay hydrated when using CBD.
While CBD may stimulate some individuals, higher doses can cause fatigue and tiredness. CBD reduces cortisol levels, a hormone responsible for stress and alertness. Lower cortisol levels can lead to feelings of tiredness and fatigue. However, CBD’s effects on cortisol levels can also be beneficial, particularly for athletes who experience high-stress levels and fatigue during training and competitions.
As with any supplement, it is important to consider potential drug interactions, allergies, or preexisting conditions. It is also important to use CBD products that are of the highest quality and sourced from reputable manufacturers. Lastly, it is advised to consult a doctor or healthcare provider before using CBD products for sports performance.
How to Use CBD for Sports Performance
Although CBD is available over the counter except for Epidiolex (A prescription medication for certain types of seizures), it is important to remember that CBD is not a one-size-fits-all solution. To maximize its benefits, each athlete must understand how to use CBD.
Forms of CBD
CBD oils are typically taken orally by placing them under the tongue or adding them to food and drinks. Oils are popular because they enter the bloodstream quickly, making them ideal for athletes who need quick relief. The downside, however, is that CBD oils are not as long-lasting, so they may need to be taken several times throughout the day.
Capsules can provide a more convenient solution for athletes without worrying about measuring dosage amounts. Like CBD oils, capsules take effect quickly and usually last six to eight hours. However, they do not enter the bloodstream as quickly as oils, so they may not be the best choice for athletes looking for instant relief.
Topical CBD products such as CBD oil salve and CBD sports balm are popular among athletes because they can be applied directly to areas of soreness or discomfort. This makes them ideal for localized relief without the need to ingest anything.
CBD gummies for athletes provide an easy and enjoyable way to get a dose of CBD. However, they may not provide the same degree of fast-acting relief as oils or capsules, as it can take up to two hours to take full effect.
CBD 10-50mg daily may effectively treat pain and inflammation. Some studies show that dosages up to 1,500mg have been well-tolerated. However, the ideal dosage for athletes depends on their needs and tolerance levels.
Generally, it is recommended that athletes start with a lower dose and increase it slowly over time until they find the right balance for them. The frequency of CBD use should also be considered before starting a supplementation program.
How to Choose a Reputable CBD Brand
Hundreds of CBD products are on the market from several brands, so it isn’t easy to know which one is right for you. When choosing a CBD product, you should use this checklist:
Source and quality: Ensure that the CBD product you choose is derived from high-quality, organic hemp and free from pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
Extraction method: Look for products extracted using CO2 extraction, as it is the safest and most effective method for extracting CBD.
CBD concentration: Check the concentration of CBD in the product and determine whether it suits your needs.
THC content: Determine whether the product contains any THC, and if so, ensure that it is within legal limits (0.3% or less) and appropriate for your preferences.
Type of product: Decide on the CBD product that works best for you, whether it’s oil, capsules, topicals, or other forms.
Dosage and serving size: Consider the product’s recommended dosage and serving size and ensure they align with your needs.
Brand reputation: Choose a reputable brand that has a history of producing high-quality CBD products.
Customer reviews: Read customer reviews to see how the product has worked for others and to gain insight into the brand’s customer service.
Price: Compare the product’s price to others on the market to ensure you’re getting a fair price for the quality and concentration of CBD you’re receiving.
Precautionary Measures on the Use of CBD for Athletes
CBD is generally considered safe, but there are still some preventive measures that athletes should take before using it. Firstly, ensure that a third-party lab has tested the CBD product you are using and has a certificate of analysis (COA). This way, you can verify the potency and purity of the product, as well as its THC content.
Talking to a doctor or healthcare professional before starting any supplementation program, including one involving CBD, is also important. This is especially true if you take any other medications or supplements, as they may interact with CBD unexpectedly. You should also consider WADA and other sporting organizations’ regulations on the use of CBD in sports.
WADA and CBD in sports
WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is the global governing body for drug testing in sports. Its prohibited list outlines the substances athletes are not allowed to use, and a certain kind of CBD is on this list. This means that athletes who compete at an international level may not use CBD products without risking disciplinary action or disqualification.
However, WADA has recently begun to relax its stance on CBD use in sports and has removed CBD from its list of banned substances, provided that the THC content is 0.3% or less. It’s important to note that many other sporting organizations still have very strict regulations on CBD use, so it is important to check with your organization before using any CBD product if you are a competitive athlete.
It is also important to note that the FDA has not approved CBD, and it’s important to research any potential product before using it. Finally, athletes should be aware that their sport may have a policy against using CBD, even if it is not specifically outlined in the WADA prohibited list.
Ethical Considerations on Using CBD for Athletes
The ethical implications of using CBD in sports need to be considered carefully. There are concerns over fairness when athletes with lower levels of access to quality products compete with those who can afford more expensive products.
There is also the potential for abuse and misuse of CBD, as it can be difficult to monitor the use and ensure that athletes are not taking too much or products that contain unsafe THC or other substances.
Additionally, there is the risk of athletes using CBD to gain a competitive advantage, such as by increasing endurance or performance. It is important to consider these factors when deciding whether to use CBD as an athlete.
CBD is a non-psychoactive product that WADA has approved for use in sports and has many advantages, including lowering inflammation and pain, enhancing sleep, and promoting mental clarity. However, they need to take the necessary precautions to reduce the impact of possible negative effects such as fatigue and dry mouth when taken excessively.
Athletes are advised to take only between 10-50mg of CBD a day, but it has been found that taking up to 1,500mg is still tolerable. Also, consulting a healthcare practitioner is recommended before taking CBD, and athletes should be aware of their organization policies on using CBD in sports.
The Best CBD Products For Athletes
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does CBD Affect Sports Performance?
CBD may help with athletic recovery and reduce inflammation, but there is no evidence that it directly affects sports performance.
Is CBD Legal In Sports?
CBD is allowed for use by athletes, according to the World Anti-Doping Agency. However, many sporting organisations still have very strict rules on CBD use, and it is important to check with your organisation before using any CBD product.
What Form Of CBD Is Best For Athletes?
The form of CBD that is best for athletes will depend on their individual needs. For example, tinctures, edibles, and topical creams may be more suitable for athletes depending on their needs.
How Much CBD Do Athletes Need?
Athletes should take between 10-50mg of CBD a day, but it has been found that taking up to 1,500mg is still tolerable. It is important to consult with a healthcare practitioner before taking CBD.