Are CBD and athletes a good match? Are there benefits in CBD for athletes?
Athletes are always on the lookout for better, more natural ways to boost their performance and recover from intense training sessions. Current options for post-workout pain relief and recovery are more harmful than beneficial. Some are even extremely addictive. So when an all-natural product like CBD comes out with great promises, it turns lots of heads.
CBD or cannabidiol is the new favorite natural remedy. After showing impressive medicinal properties in preliminary studies, it was welcomed into the health world. Now there are more than 60 clinical trials studying its effects on different ailments. With great promises to reduce pain, inflammation, and muscle soreness, it quickly grabbed the attention of athletes. Many athletes tried it and now have incorporated CBD into their routines. This can be a big shift in the sports world toward healthier options for recovery and performance enhancement.
If you’re an athlete and are wondering about what CBD can do for you, keep reading.
What Are the Potential Benefits of CBD for Athletes?
CBD has various uses for everyone. In the case of CBD and athletes, these uses lean toward a better overall performance by affecting different aspects of an athlete’s journey. Here are some benefits of CBD for athletes.
Reduce Pain and Inflammation
Pain and inflammation are a part of every athlete’s bodily responses. While a little pain and inflammation can have positive effects on training, too much can prevent recovery and therefore reduce the overall performance. There is no focused research on CBD and athletes, but the athletes who have tried CBD, swear by its effectiveness in reducing pain. Recent studies confirm CBD’s ability in reducing pain and inflammation caused by nerve and tissue damage.
A possible explanation for this can be the interaction between CBD and CB2 receptors in the brain which will signal the immune system and reduce the inflammatory response to intense workout sessions.
A Natural Replacement for NSAIDs and Opioids
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have been athletes’ go-to pain-relieving remedies for a long time. Simple medications like Advil are not as safe as we thought they were. Other than causing heart problems, they can damage your kidneys. Opioids are even worse. While they manage to reduce the pain significantly, they are extremely addictive and can cause painful cases of overdose. Based on CDC’s report, there were more than 40,000 opioid-related deaths in 2016.
Athletes in search of a healthier alternative found that CBD can replace NSAIDs and opioids in effectively reducing pain. According to the World Health Organization, it seems that CBD is not addictive like the other pain-relieving options and can even help you quit opioids.
A Solution for Gastrointestinal Problems
Inflammation can also happen in your intestines and cause discomfort. This discomfort can prevent you from performing at your best. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD come into play again. By interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the intestines, CBD may be able to fix these gastrointestinal issues, recover the intestines’ permeability and rid you of the inflammation-induced gut problems.
Muscle Recovery and Bone Health
The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of CBD can help with muscle recovery too. Intensive workout sessions can tear your muscle tissues and cause inflammation. On one hand, this can help you gain and build stronger muscles. On the other hand, too much of it can have adverse effects. CBD might be able to balance this out and help your sore muscles recover.
Another way CBD can help athletes is with the bone structure. Studies show that CBD may help bone fractures heal and improve bone deposition. This is especially beneficial for athletes who are more prone to bone injuries.
Manage Sleep and Anxiety
Getting enough sleep is crucial for every athlete’s recovery and performance. On the other hand, there might be some nights when you need to stay awake longer. Studies show that lower doses of CBD can induce sleep and higher doses can keep you awake. But will this put you out of balance? Not according to the clinical trials that evaluated the effects of CBD on cognitive functions. Athletes who have taken CBD for insomnia report a better night’s sleep.
One of the causes of insomnia is anxiety. Studies show that CBD can reduce this anxiety and help you sleep better. This can also be useful in stressful situations and the right dose of CBD before your big event can be effective in calming your mind and making you focus.
Is CBD Legal for Athletes?
According to studies, CBD is generally safe with minor side effects like changes in weight and appetite in some people. For this reason, WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, removed CBD from its prohibited substances list back in 2018. With CBD being legal in all 50 states, athletes won’t be breaking any rules using it.
But THC is still on that list and a urinary test going over a threshold of 150 nanograms per milliliter THC will get you in trouble. THC is the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, more abundant in marijuana than hemp. Although CBD products like full spectrum CBDs still have up to 0.3% THC in them. This amount is not harmful and will not get you high, but it might show positive on a test. The risk of this happening increases significantly when you buy CBD from an unreliable source. These types of products might have impurities and increase your chances of falsely testing positive. The above threshold for THC is set by WADA by considering that athletes might be a causal CBD user and to differentiate the hemp from marijuana.
However, if you’re not certain about full spectrum CBDs and don’t want to risk testing positive, you can opt for CBD isolates instead that contain zero THC and are pure CBD.
Best Types of CBD for Athletes
CBD comes in different forms and each form takes a different time to affect your body. Oils and tinctures are the fastest while edibles take longer and some part of them is lost before reaching your circulation. You can read more about how each type of CBD affects your body in How to Take CBD.
Apart from that, each body will respond differently to each type of CBD. What it comes down to at the end in the case of CBD and athletes is their personal preferences. Nonetheless, here are the best types of CBD for athletes.
- CBD oils and tinctures: CBD oils and tinctures are placed under the tongue for fast absorption. They will spread through the entire body and they are one of the easiest ways to incorporate CBD into your life.
- CBD salves and creams: CBD salves and creams are one form of topical CBDs with fast absorption. These products are applied on the targeted area and will not enter your bloodstream.
- CBD sticks and roll-ons: CBD sticks and roll-ons are the other form of topical CBDs with a different application method. Topical CBDs are a great option for targeting muscle pain and stiffness.
- CBD capsules and gummies: CBD capsules and gummies come in pre-measured doses so you don’t have to worry about dosing them yourself. While these edibles will be distributed throughout your whole body, the absorbed amount will be less than the consumed one, because of the first pass effect.
So are CBD and athletes a good match? Considering the potential benefits of CBD for athletes, we have to say yes. Based on the current scientific evidence, CBD is a very promising health remedy. From relieving pain to muscle stiffness, anxiety, and insomnia, and even helping athletes cut back from opioids and NSAIDs, CBD has a lot to offer the sports world. So many athletes have jumped on the CBD train and it’s time you do too. Just make sure to check in with your doctor and start with low doses so your body can get used to it. Try out different types of CBD to figure out which one suits your needs better.
There is still a long way to go in CBD research, but there is only more good news to come. Until then, enjoy your CBD for better athletic performance. Share this article with your friends and if you’re an athlete and already using CBD, let us know in the comments how it has helped you.