CBD for Athletes: Learning the Ropes

  • CBD
cbd for athletes

Athletes intentionally put their bodies under high degrees of stress to increase their performance and even break world records. Unfortunately, that type of stress can have some negative effects on the human body, as well as the mind. After all, physical trauma that isn’t well-regulated can lead to wear and tear of muscles and joints, and exacerbating existing pain. This brings us to the cutting-edge of research in sports recovery, and safer avenues for pain relief. Welcome to the world of CBD for athletes. 

Keep on reading to learn everything this extensive guide has to offer. We’ll be discussing the legality of CBD for athletic use, its numerous benefits, and how you can add it to your fitness regimen.

CBD in Sports: Is It Legal?

Before starting our deep dive into the chemical components of CBD, and its benefits, let’s establish its legality. The short answer to that question is yes. It’s been legal since the beginning of 2018.

Now, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances, both in and out of competitions. As for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), it followed suit and provided a ‘Marijuana FAQ‘ page to clarify things for American athletes. 

However, you’ll want to keep in mind that USADA has allowed in CBD and only CBD. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THCs), on the other hand, are still prohibited. If you’re unfamiliar with THC, it’s the psychoactive component of marijuana. The same rules apply to synthetic cannabinoids.  

Moreover, you’ll find that ADA has set the urinary threshold for THC to 150 nanograms per milliliter, which is much higher than the previous limit of 15 nanograms per milliliter. One of the reasons behind the change is lowering the risk of an athlete testing positive for THC, due to casual consumption outside of competition days. 

All of the prior information applies to the world of sports, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for the legality of cannabis and cannabis by-products for use outside of sports. 

CBD for Athletes 101: Full Spectrum vs CBD Isolate

Now that we’ve moved past the issue of legality, let’s tackle the substance itself, and the different forms you can add to an active routine. 

There are two main forms of CBD that you’ll want to consider, which is choosing between a full-spectrum CBD oil, or a CBD isolate.

Full Spectrum CBD

According to the Farm Bill of 2018, which made hemp legal, the law requires THC levels to be 0.3% or less in CBD products. When it comes to full-spectrum CBD products, there will be different amounts of THC depending on the product’s label, so there is still a chance that THC might show up in a drug screening test. 

Of course, we’ve already mentioned that WADA did raise the urinary limit of THC. But, if you’re an athlete under WADA’s supervision, then you’ll want to play it safe and use CBD isolate instead. 

On the other hand, if it’s safe for you to use a full-spectrum CBD product, then you should make use of its more enhanced endocannabinoid system. This is the system that responds to “The Entourage Effect” much quicker and more effectively than the CBD isolate.

CBD Isolate

This doesn’t mean that CBD isolate is a weak knock-off of full-spectrum CBD products.

You can still benefit from the cannabidiol available in CBD isolate products, with additional peace of mind that there will be no THC whatsoever in the product you’re consuming. 

The Benefits of CBD in Sports

It’s time to start highlighting the various benefits that CBD provides for athletes of all stripes. We’ll start with some of the core benefits, and then move on to other benefits that tend to be overlooked. 

Helps With Physical Stress

This is the driving force behind the popularity of CBD amongst professional athletes. For golfers and equestrians, and other athletes who experience sore muscles, CBD can truly be of aid. 

With physical strain comes pain and inflammation, which can lead to chronic pain if it doesn’t get properly addressed. By using CBD products, many athletes have sped up their recovery time, due to the anti-inflammatory properties that CBD provides. 

Moreover, for any person who plays high impact sports, or they’re involved in strenuous training activities, this pressure makes pain management a sore point to deal with. Sadly enough, studies have shown that while NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can relieve pain, it tends to come with hefty side-effects, especially if used in the long-run.

On the other hand, CBD works for pain relief through a similar mechanism to NSAIDs. Simply put, your body has CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are cannabinoid receivers that are located throughout your body. When you consume CBD, it binds with the receptors located where the pain is felt. 

But, you might be wondering why your CBD works so well. From a biological perspective, your body will always try to maintain homeostasis, or reach that state if there’s been a fluctuation. Homeostasis is the well-balanced state of body health.

And, when you put your body through the wringer, as does any high impact sport athlete, your body’s native endocannabinoid will start increasing to fix the stress damage. CBD products perform the same functions as your native endocannabinoid, thus aiding in your healing process. 

Therefore, if NSAID has been causing trouble and you’re tired of the negative effects it has on your body, you should definitely give CBD a try. 

Aids With Getting Good Rest

If you’ve spent any time watching world-class athletes online, you’ll notice a common theme in all of their advice. They always emphasize the importance of sleep and getting a solid amount of rest to boost the body’s recovery from strenuous activities. 

Even for people who live sedentary lives, our bodies don’t function as well as we’d like them to when we don’t get the right amount of sleep the day before. It’s simply more obvious for athletes who need their bodies well-rested before competitions and training drills, which makes them more aware of the state of their bodies.

Also, what athlete would want to get injured during a competition, simply because they haven’t rested enough?

This is where CBD comes in. 

According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017, it’s been shown that CBD can help test subjects fall into deeper states of sleep, which is crucial for maintaining our mental and physical health. 

When it comes to essential sleep chemicals, adenosine plays a big role in your ability to sleep and sleep well. Adenosine is a molecule that breaks down during the day as our bodies burn energy. This leads to a build-up of adenosine in the brain as time goes by without your body getting some sleep. 

Once the body is asleep, it starts metabolizing adenosine. CBD comes in as an adenosine-inhibitor, which allows the human body to fall asleep quicker, and have a more restful sleep. 

Provides Preventative Joint Health Care

Osteoarthritis (OA) has been known as the bane of athletes for the longest time. After all, as they engage in both occupational and recreational activities, some of which are rather strenuous in nature, they’re at a higher risk for developing OA.

Now, which CBD hasn’t been proven to boost athletic performance in the lab, it’s been shown to bind to different receptors that can help reduce inflammation and pain. 

Cannabidiol could very well be used as a component of an emergent therapeutic strategy for eliminating joint problems before they develop into chronic conditions like OA. For instance, CBD can help prevent problems that come from oxidative stress, and the imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in our bodies. 

Of course, you’ll want to keep in mind that the research is still in the early stages of completion and the publishing of the results.

Soothes Intestinal Irritability

As we’ve previously discussed, by putting the body into a constant state of stress, a variety of problems start emerging. Two of those would be dehydration, as well as overheating, which are familiar problems that athletes have to deal with daily.

Nevertheless, these problems are compounded when they occur in a body that’s already dealing with an underlying inflammation issue, especially in the gut area. Thankfully, with CB1 and CB2 receptors spread across the whole body, you can use CBD to help treat inflammation disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome.

Still, you’ll want to take it easy, as there is a lack of studies showing these results when it comes to humans. One study has used mice models, and it has shown promising results.  

Great Alternative to Opioids

The U.S. is still floundering in the midst of the opioid crisis, with more than 42,000 deaths across the nation in 2016. 

The double-edged swords that are opioids like morphine, oxycontin, and codeine, is their high degrees of effectiveness when it comes to pain management. However, they come attached to the hefty price of higher risks of addiction and death by overdose. 

Needless to say, cannabinoids aren’t nearly as effective as opioids when you’re trying to tackle high-intensity pain. But, there are promising results that show that they are effective enough for long-term management, either with other medications or not. 

It’s definitely worth getting some additional research done, as CBD comes with the almost non-existent risk of dependence or accidental death.  

How to Use CBD

We think it’s fair to say that we’ve established how beneficial adding CBD to your routine can be. Now, let’s dive into what you need to know about using it and the different types of CBD on the market. 

If you’ve done any sort of minor research, you’ve probably been bombarded with what seems like new CBD products hitting the market every week. Thankfully, all you need to know is the core types of CBD products, and once you’ve gotten comfortable with their use, you can branch out into using more experimental types of products.

You can ingest CBD in capsules, pills, oil, and even gas form. You can drink it infused in sports and recovery drinks, or even light fizzy sodas. In addition to topical creams and lotions that contain CBD oil, you can consume it sublingually by placing a couple of drops under your tongue. 

Methods of Ingestions

The main concept behind the different consumption methods is the speed of feeling the effects of the CBD product. For instance, you’ll find that any CBD product that’s absorbed through your stomach lining, like capsules, edibles, and oils, will take a bit longer to hit your bloodstream as it flows through your intestines. 

On the other hand, topical creams will be absorbed through the skin, which can give you quicker results than edibles. But, when it comes to speed, nothing can beat how rapid CBD gets released into your bloodstream in the form of sublingual drops or tinctures, especially if you’d rather not inhale it via vaping. 

Choosing the Right CBD Dosage

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific standard dose that would work for everyone. As people have different bodies, sensitivities, and mechanisms, they can react to the same dose of CBD in rather different ways. 

The starting point would be checking the CBD product’s label. The most accurate way to consume CBD would probably be through capsules or the milligrams of CBD per volume of a tincture or oil. 

Therefore, our recommendation would be to start at a rather low dose, then increasing (or decreasing) the dose based on the effects you experience.

Unlocking the Power of CBD in Sports

We’re familiar with how overwhelming it can be to step into the world of CBD for athletes for the first time. But, we hope our extensive guide on all the key points that you need to know was enough to help guide you on your CBD journey.

After learning about the benefits of CBD and how to safely consume any sort of CBD product, you’re ready to integrate some into your daily routine. Just make sure to record your findings of how you feel, this way you can tweak the dosage to the right maximum effect.

Yet, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can check out our blog for all the additional information you could need. But, if you have a specific question, contact us and we’d be delighted to help you out. 


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