When you hear Lionel Messi, Serena Williams, LeBron James, or Usain Bolt, what do you think? Athletes, of course! When hearing their names, we probably recall the medals or the championships they won. But, fellow athletes might also think about the physical pain they endured or the pressure they were under.
In the sports and fitness world, finding an efficient pain-relief method is essential. From cold and heat to physical therapy, most athletes have tried everything. And don’t get me started on the anxiety! Most athletes lose their minds during the competitions.
Nowadays, there is a new product causing a massive hype in this field: CBD for athletes. This trendy pain-reliever anti-anxiety medication has become more and more popular—however, fear of drug testing and the stigma surrounding it keep potential consumers away.
At first glance, CBD’s positive effects seem incredibly appealing. But is it all just hype, or does it help athletes? Do its benefits outweigh its potential side effects? Keep on reading to learn more about this excellent remedy.
What is CBD?
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of marihuana? Probably it is some reporter at the news scaring us with an overdose story. Or your friends are talking about how they got high last weekend. Or even a family member at a gathering is warning you about the risks of weed. Somehow everyone always seems to forget that the Cannabis plant has a lot more to offer. So let’s talk about more than just getting high, shall we?
The hemp plant contains thousands of chemical components called ‘cannabinoids.’ Cannabidiol, best known as CBD, is one of the many cannabinoids. While it comes from the hemp plant, by itself, it does not cause a high or any psychoactive effect.
Many brands sell it as a supplement for therapeutic purposes. Although there is still research being done on this topic, the medical community supports the use of CBD for several health-related issues:
- Arthritis and inflammation
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of appetite in people fighting cancer
Although controversial, not only does CBD work to decrease physical pain, but it also regulates your mood and sleep cycles. Moreover, it is widely consumed in the world of sports. Several famous athletes have talked about its benefits for training, endorsing its use. Thanks to these celebrities, CBD has shaken off its association with cannabis in the sporting industry.
Now that we have left behind the stigma surrounding CBD, let’s unsolve the mystery: how does it achieve these life-saving results? What makes this component so great for our body and mind?
How Does CBD Work?
Okay, it’s high time for a lecture on the ins and outs of CBD. Are you one of those people who want to know exactly what is going on in their bodies? Then, hear me out because this will interest you.
Previously, we talked about how CBD comes from the Cannabis plant and that it is a ‘cannabinoid.’ All cannabinoids affect the body by interacting with your endocannabinoid system. So, what is this exactly? For all of you science geeks, this system is in charge of regulating a range of functions and processes, including:
- Pain and inflammation
Despite not consuming cannabis, the ECS is active in your body. The ECS involves three core components: endocannabinoids, receptors, and enzymes. Each of these is of absolute importance in helping regulate all the functions mentioned above.
First, endocannabinoids are molecules made by our bodies. These molecules are very similar to cannabinoids; that is why it is so easy for the CBD to enter our bodies unnoticed. In a few words, their role is to remain the ECS to don’t forget to do its job.
Second, these endocannabinoids bind to the receptors to signal that the ECS needs to take action. The receptors receive a stimulus and then deliver the message to our brains. Lastly, enzymes attach themselves to the receptors and break down the endocannabinoids, which helps discard them.
Even though experts still have doubts about how CBD interacts with the ECS, there are two main possibilities. Many believe it works by preventing the enzymes from breaking the endocannabinoids. In this way, their effect can last longer. Others think that CBD might bind to a receptor that they haven’t been able to find yet.
You might be thinking: “why bother taking CBD? Doesn’t my ECS manage everything on its own?.” Actually, for some people, this is not the case. Some individuals suffer from low endocannabinoid levels or an ECS dysfunction, having symptoms like irregular appetite, increased anxiety, chronic pain, trouble sleeping, and mood swings, among other conditions.
Besides, CBD helps the ECS ensure signals of wellness and happiness are sent to the brain. This is highly beneficial for all people, but especially athletes who want to minimize their pain.
Is CBD Legal for Athletes?
I get it. If you are a fitness enthusiast, it is entirely natural to worry about whether or not CBD is legal. There is a lot on the plate! Not so long ago, Sha’Carri Richardson, an athlete in track and field, faced a doping sanction because of THC consumption. So, you can never be too careful.
For the relief of many, the answer is yes. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) also decided to do this, and they provided a “Marijuana FAQ” page to clarify the rules.
It is essential to clarify that only CBD was taken out of the list: THC and other synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited. THC is s the psychoactive compound that produces the high, exactly what we want to avoid in these situations.
The exact rule says: “All natural and synthetic cannabinoids are prohibited, e.g., In cannabis (hashish, marijuana) and cannabis products. Natural and synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol (THCs). Synthetic cannabinoids mimic the effects of THC. Except: Cannabidiol.”
While full-spectrum CBD products contain a minimal amount of THC, CBD isolate is THC-free. This choice between what CBD to consume becomes a problem when talking about drug testing. Do test results come back positive for THC if you consume full-spectrum products? Read on to learn the answer to this question.
As regards the legality of CBD besides sports, that is a whole different problem. The legal status of cannabis is constantly changing depending on the area you are living in. Here you have our recommendation: always check the laws of your area before purchasing or consuming.
Benefits of CBD for Athletes
Most athletes use CBD as a pain reliever. Whether you’re a professional or recreationally doing some exercise, post-workout aches and old resurfacing injuries are extremely painful. Even worse than the pain itself, they can stop you for a few days or even more, not allowing you to train.
The last thing any athlete wants is to have to take a break. In the past, doctors used to prescribe opiates and NSAIDs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These were given to athletes out of the lack of knowledge. We know that NSAIDs increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes and that opiates have highly addictive properties.
Luckily, CBD is a fantastic alternative to these pain relievers. What makes CBD so great is that it helps with both physical and mental issues. Moreover, despite having some potential side effects like fatigue and diarrhea, there aren’t any significant negative aspects. On the contrary, the benefits of CBD for athletes abound. They can be divided into six main categories:
- Pain Relief
Studies have shown that CBD can reduce pain, from stiff joints to musculoskeletal pain. Nevertheless, the most effective CBDs are the ones that have some THC in them, even if it is very little. Some athletes have reported that full-spectrum products work best for them. Due to its analgesic properties, it helps with pain both during and after doing exercise. Post-workout application of CBD oil for athletes is increasing more and more.
- Stress Management
Do you have a huge competition coming up? When competing at a high level, athletes have to deal with a lot of stress. “‘Matchday nerves’ can seriously affect mood, sleep, and concentration – all of which could ultimately impact on performance.”CBD produces higher levels of serotonin, alleviating feelings of anxiety.
- Appetite Control
Are you in a hurry? Do you want to eat something healthy and delicious? Then, CBD snacks are perfect for you! CBD edibles are some of the most popular products among athletes. It probably has to do with the fact that they are straightforward to add to your diet. Moreover, they help with weight management and remove the temptation for an unhealthy middle-of-the-day snack.
- Reduce Inflammation
Post-workout soreness is the body’s natural response after so much physical effort. Inflammation is a good thing. A slight inflammation helps you adapt, but a lot can be very painful and produce long-term injuries. We are using CBD after a workout implies fewer days of rest and minor discomfort. We all want to fasten our recoveries as much as possible
- Sleep Quality
Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, but for athletes, this is of even more importance. Do you want to achieve a new goal? Then, be sure to sleep tight and be relaxed the next day. CBD helps in two ways. First, it allows you to fall asleep faster. Secondly, it turns you into a heavy sleeper. This is especially useful for those who can’t fall asleep thinking about tomorrow’s big day.
- Boosting Focus
Have you ever found yourself bored in the middle of a session or too tired to get on training? When practicing for an important event, being able to focus can be quite a challenge. Sports drinks are perfect for these occasions. They fit naturally into your routine and keep you hydrated. This way, you can finish your workout feeling like your best self.
How to Use CBD
The CBD market is continuously releasing new products. Even more so, when regarding the sports and fitness world. From pills and topicals to drinks and edibles, there are plenty of ways to consume CBD.
How long it will take for you to feel its effect will depend on which option you pick. While capsules, oils, and edibles have to be digested, topicals and sublingual drops tend to be quicker. Apart from these, inhalation through vaping is also very rapid.
CBD companies for athletes manufacture products that ensure a safe alternative to some addictive and dangerous medications. It is pretty standard for companies to focus on oils and salves, the two favorites among athletes.
CBD oil for athletes focuses on relieving lower back, neck, feet, hand, and joint pain. Arthritis and knee injuries are prevalent among people who practice sports. With oils, you can target the desired area and before and after the workout.
Moreover, salve products are beneficial because of the way they protect our skin. Balms and sprays come in hand to treat muscle soreness or dry skin. You can even use it for brushing and chafing. Not only do they ease pain, but they also, applying topically, there is a lower chance of CBD entering the bloodstream.
How Much CBD to Use
There isn’t a standard dose of CBD that works for everyone. Also, depending on how you consume it, CBD can be hard to doze. For example, capsules or gummies are the easiest methods, but you will need a dropper with some liquids. You can also calculate how many milligrams you have to take off a specific tincture.
Most companies recommend starting with small doses to see how CBD affects your body. After a while, if you feel the need, you can increase it. Last but not least, always remember to seek the advice of a medical professional before consuming any product. Make sure you only buy CBD products from reliable sources.
CBD and Drug Testing
As we have already mentioned, you can either buy full spectrum CBD or CBD isolate. Full-spectrum ones contain other compounds from the plant, including some small amounts of THC. This amount will depend on each country’s laws.
Because of the low amount in full-spectrum CBD, it’s doubtful for tests to come up positive for THC. Anyway, better be safe than sorry. That is why, from an anti-doping standpoint, CBD isolate might be a better option.
BD is a turning point in the world of fitness and sports. Although there is still a lot to discover about the wonders of this remedy, it has already proven to be highly effective. All in all, CBD offers much more potential health benefits than risks. Drug testing could be its primary problem, and it can be solved by researching and finding trustworthy brands.