Cannabis may be the last thing you associate with working out and the world of sports, but the plant could be a great win for athletes! Cannabidiol (CBD) may have a variety of uses during different times throughout training, performance, and recovery.
Non-psychoactive CBD is just one of many different cannabinoids within the Cannabis sativa plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is typically the more well-known part due to its ability to produce a ‘high’ feeling, but CBD is different in that it will not make you feel those psychoactive effects. CBD may have many health and wellness benefits that athletes may use to improve their game!
CBD could be beneficial for athletes prior to exercise, during exercise, and after exercise to optimize performance. Here are a few ways that athletes may take advantage of CBD.
CBD promoting a sense of calm
CBD may be excellent for helping athletes cope with the stressors of competition and the feelings of anxiousness of a large tournament approaching. In one double-blind study from 2019, a group of researchers tested CBD’s effectiveness at treating social feelings of anxiousness disorder by using functional neuroimaging. Results showed that CBD significantly reduced feelings of anxiousness by interacting with the limbic and paralimbic brain areas. This finding could be applied to anyone encountering a stressful situation, especially athletes who need to shake off some bad mental energy and get their head back on a winning track.
CBD for overall wellbeing
Accidents like shin splints and muscle strains that bring along discomfort can be a major setback to an athlete in training and unfortunately discomfort is all too common as athletes look to break records and push limits. But popping traditional medications isn’t the only way to get rid of aches and get you back on your feet. In fact, those medications might not even be the safest option, as they may bring on negative side effects. Studies, like this one, show that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), may raise the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other heart problems, as well as heighten the risk for several other health issues.
Instead of relying too much on NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, athletes should consider CBD as a more holistic addition to their discomfort management plan. CBD products are widely available these days and come in many forms, like CBD-infused gummies for daily discomfort management or balms that can be rubbed directly onto the skin.
CBD may reduce joint swelling
CBD may also be a great choice for promoting a healthy inflammatory response. Joint swelling may be a very common occurrence for athletes but using some CBD discomfort gel may significantly help. In one 2016 study, researchers wrote, “transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling…” They concluded the data indicated that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis discomfort-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.
Anyone who puts through their bodies through repetitive movements is at risk for arthritis, especially those in contact sports like football. Older athletes may need to target arthritis-related discomfort or inflammation in general to keep themselves in the game. Did you know that using CBD may actually be an effective form of medication to treat arthritis? Consider a study from 2005 that assessed the efficacy of a cannabis-based medicine in the treatment of discomfort due to rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers wrote, “in comparison with placebo, the CBD produced statistically significant improvements in discomfort on movement, discomfort at rest, quality of sleep…” CBD topicals or balms could be more useful instead of relying on too many NSAIDs.
CBD may assist with the recovery process
CBD may help reduce the inevitable inflammation that occurs in the body after a strenuous workout, which is why many athletes are touting CBD as their wellness miracle worker. CBD is a great choice to help athletes recover from hard workouts. Some athletes especially like it to tackle aches and joint inflammation after heavy lift days. The study above suggests that CBD may help reduce muscle soreness when you rub it on the body as a muscle ointment or take it orally in a form like a tincture, tablet, or gummy.
CBD may help you obtain a better night’s sleep
We all need a good night’s sleep to work well the next day, and athletes especially require enough sleep if they want to be at peak performance. But sometimes, even hard-working athletes may have a hard time falling or staying asleep due to stress, feelings of anxiousness, or environmental factors. Being well rested is essential for any athlete who wishes to reap the rewards for more training gains during practice.
Luckily, CBD may help athletes get more rest, with many studies suggesting that CBD could be an effective aid for insomnia and other sleep problems. One study from Project CBD found that CBD reduced the average time it took individuals to fall asleep from 62 to 20 minutes. Their users also said they woke up less throughout the night, from 4 times on average to just once after taking CBD. Another 2019 study reported “sleep scores improved” within the first month of CBD use in 66.7 percent of the patients, 48 adults, attributing the sleep relief to CBD’s “calming effect in the central nervous system.”
Athletes who use CBD
Today, many athletes and former pro athletes are using CBD products to help improve their game and recovery. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe is well-known for using CBD because she wanted a more natural option for managing discomfort, falling asleep and for general recovery. David Wells, a pitcher for Major League Baseball who won two World Series, said he was under the influence of opiates throughout his career to deal with typical aches from the game and discomfort after surgery. He credited CBD for now helping him remain opiate-free.
In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from the 2020 list of prohibited substances. CBD is likely to gain more popularity among athletes as more people discover the cannabinoid’s natural benefits and learn about popular athletes who have found success with CBD products.