Megan Rapinoe. Rob Gronkowski. Billy Horschel. Flex Lewis. Nate Diaz.
These athletes come from different sporting backgrounds. They have won championships and dazzled the world with their skills. And they all have one thing in common—they use CBD to help them on and off the field.
You’ve probably heard of CBD by now—one in seven adults uses it in the U.S. But you still have questions about how and why you might start incorporating it into your daily routine, too. Namely, you want to know the benefits of CBD for athletes.
Before you head to your local dispensary, here’s everything you need to know.
CBD For Athletes: How Does It Work?
Now, if you know anything about CBD, you might be wondering how a cannabis-derived compound can improve athletic performance. But CBD is different than, say, smoking weed or eating an edible.
The main difference is that CBD comes without any tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This compound is what causes the headrush feeling when people smoke cannabis. That feeling wouldn’t be helpful for athletes, so, luckily, there’s none of that in CBD.
What CBD does offer are the other feel-good benefits that come with cannabis use—feelings of calm and relaxation, mainly. For athletes, though, there are several other benefits to incorporating CBD into their routine.
Here are five benefits athletes may get from CBD:
1. Reduces Inflammation
CBD modulates the inflammatory response. Preclinical scientific evidence points to the fact that CBD can soothe inflammation from exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD). Though inflammation is integral to muscle growth and EIMD repair, excessive inflammation may contribute to prolonged muscle soreness and delayed recovery. This excessive inflammation can be seen in athletes who consistently push their bodies to the limits.
In preclinical models of acute inflammation CBD reportedly :
- Reduced the effect of immune cell accumulation
- Stimulated the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines
- Inhibited the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines
It should be noted that these effects were reported with higher doses of CBD, although lower doses have indicated effects in some studies.
In general, CBD reacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. More research has to be done to confirm the link between CBD and its anti-inflammatory properties, but current evidence shows promising benefits for those recovering from a tough workout or an athletic injury. If further research clarifies the mechanisms at which CBD reduces inflammation then athletes may make further use of CBD to rest, recover and return to the field.
2. Decrease Muscle Tension
Training or playing sports can leave your muscles feeling tight and tense. You surely have ways to relieve these feelings. Perhaps you take a hot bath or sign up for regular sports massages.
CBD may be able to reduce muscle tension too. Whereas some athletes turn to benzodiazepine muscle relaxers to treat muscle tension, CBD may be able to act in a similar way.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from intense exercise comes with muscle tension. Prescription muscle relaxers work through the GABA system to regulate muscle relaxation. One study states that the antianxiety effects of cannabis appear to work through the same receptors, meaning that there is potential CBD can increase muscle relaxation and hence recovery from DOMS.
3. Reduce Pain
You may know this already, but marijuana has been used for years to dull pain. In fact, its medicinal usage goes all the way back to 2900 B.C.
So, relying on CBD to dull your post-workout aches and pains is nothing new. Slathering on a CBD ointment or taking a tincture of CBD oil seems to dull the power of pain from DOMS. This makes your pain feel less intense after a game or workout.
4. Improve Sleep
No athlete can perform without proper rest and restoration. And, CBD may be able to help you fall to sleep and say snoozing for longer.
Cortisol levels tend to wake you up—and stress you out—in the morning. But if you deal with insomnia, cortisol levels can spike at night, too.
CBD seems to interact with cortisol, though, dampening its effects so that you can rest better. So, if you’re worried about a big game or match, CBD could help you rest the night before.
5. Improve Energy Levels
Finally, CBD can boost your energy levels. Clearly, getting more sleep will help you feel alert and ready in the morning. But that’s not the only way that this compound can enhance your energy levels.
CBD has also been shown to interact with the hypothalamus in the brain, which has a hand in plenty of bodily and brain functions including energy and alertness.
Can Athletes Take CBD?
There’s no one answer to this question—there’s no overarching law regarding CBD in sports. You will have to ask those in charge of your particular league or sport to ensure you won’t be disqualified for using it. However, most major sporting leagues have removed CBD from their lists of prohibited substances.
One problem may arise, though: CBD could potentially trigger a positive drug test. It shouldn’t, because it is made by removing the headrush-causing THC from cannabis. But trace amounts of THC could still appear and show up on a pre-competition test.
If THC testing is an issue in the league you play in, a CBD isolate may be your best bet. CBD isolates are completely removed from THC, however full-spectrum CBD products contain a wide array of cannabinoids—including small amounts of THC.
What Else Should I Know?
Before you start on any CBD-inclusive regimen, it’s important to speak to your doctor. CBD is safe, of course, but taking it could interact with medicines or other treatments you are receiving. So, get the green light from a professional before you dive in.
And, you should make sure that your sports league allows participants to take CBD, too. Although there are many benefits to CBD for athletes, you don’t want to disqualify yourself by using it.
Once you have the go-ahead, though, all you have left to do is make CBD part of your routine and reap the many benefits of this cannabis-based substance. We can help you find the right CBD-based products for your post-game aches and pains—click here to shop now.