Many professional athletes, from soccer legend Megan Rapinoe to extreme surfer Albee Layer, use CBD for its purported health benefits.
Numerous medical studies have highlighted CBD’s impact on pain, inflammation, anxiety, focus, and even energy.
Because of this, it’s no surprise that many extreme-sport athletes are curious about how useful CBD may be for both training and competition recovery. But how much do we really know about this compound?
In this article, we explore how and why CBD is impactful for action-sport professionals.
What Is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound found in the hemp plant. The plant also contains a host of other interesting cannabinoids (CBG, CBN) and terpenes (Linalool, Pinene).
While all of these compounds are intriguing, a growing body of research into CBD’s medicinal properties has exacerbated its popularity.
Research shows that CBD can interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex pathway sends messages around the body, influencing basic functions such as sleep, pain management, and even memory. In other words, it maintains balance and homeostasis in the body.
Influenced by the medical interest, the 2018 Farm Bill was signed, allowing US farmers to grow industrial hemp crops legally, with the guidance of state programs.
Unsurprisingly, this led to a considerable spike in CBD products being manufactured and sold across the United States. However, most CBD products must conform to particular regulations. For instance, they cannot contain more than 0.3% THC.
But this hasn’t stopped the market from growing. Online retailers and physical stores stock everything from high-potency CBD oils to athlete-focused CBD topicals; this is excellent news for consumers.
Are There Side Effects to Consuming CBD?
According to research, the side effects of CBD are generally mild. Some people may experience:
Changes in appetite
Despite these potential effects, reputable governing bodies such as the World Health Organization claim the compound has a “good safety profile”.
To minimize the chance of these side effects, users should always follow the recommended dosage guide for any product. Additionally, if you are new to CBD, starting with a smaller potency may also be worthwhile.
Before using CBD, one more thing to consider is whether it may interfere with other medications you may be using. In this instance, it’s best to contact your health provider and ask for advice.
Benefits of CBD for Professional Athletes
While there’s nothing more thrilling than landing a difficult hardflip or a 180 rewind in a skate or snowboarding competition, the aftereffects of high-energy routines can be difficult.
Sore muscles, anxiety, and even injury pain can play havoc with an athlete’s road to recovery. That’s why post-competition recuperation is just as important as preparation, especially for extreme sports such as:
Mountain biking and BMX
Could CBD be an effective solution to recovery? Below we investigate the compound’s most talked-about benefits for athletes.
Arguably the most common issue for athletes in recovery is managing pain.
During extreme sports, professionals subject their bodies to intense stress, often pushing themselves to the limit of what’s physically possible.
Pain can take many different forms, such as aches and soreness caused by inflammation.
As mentioned by this study, excessive inflammation in athletes can result in “prolonged muscle soreness and delayed functional recovery.” Interestingly, research has shown that CBD can reduce inflammation around the body by reducing oxidative stress and excitotoxicity. However, research into athlete-specific inflammation is still in its preliminary phases.
In terms of bodily pain relief, many athletes choose a CBD topical. Not only do creams target a specific area of the body, but they can be bought in high strengths, like PureKana’s 2000mg Pain Relief Ointment.
Maintaining good sleep is not only useful for your physical health but also your mental state. So, its importance for pro athletes is unquestionable.
Poor sleep may result in:
Slower recovery, meaning less training time
Sower reaction speeds
So how can CBD help? One study investigating this relationship found that CBD might impact cortisol levels, a hormone linked to stress. By limiting the production of cortisol, CBD could be beneficial in reducing nighttime awakenings and, therefore, ensuring consistent sleep cycles.
Some online retailers like PureKana, specialize in sleep-focused CBD products. They incorporate essential ingredients like melatonin and Gaba to induce tiredness and restfulness.
This could benefit not only the speed at which you fall asleep but also the quality, ensuring consistent sleep during recovery.
Many athletes experience nerves before a performance. However, anxiety and stress post-routine can be just as challenging, no matter how well you’ve performed.
Athletes may worry about not living up to their potential or feel the pressure and expectation building for future performances. Either way, managing these feelings is essential.
CBD’s impact on anxiety and stress has been a significant topic in cannabinoid research. Reports like this one show that the compound could be helpful as a stress modulator as it interacts with two major receptors in the ECS; CB1 and CB2.
The report also claims that 70.6% of the articles they reviewed noted favorable results towards using CBD for stress. While not entirely comprehensive, this is encouraging.
Luckily, many product types on the CBD market encourage wellbeing and relaxation, including potent oils and convenient capsules.
Can Athletes Consume CBD Legally?
In 2018, CBD was removed from the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) list. While this is an encouraging change, legality surrounding CBD in sport is still a confusing subject.
While CBD is gaining more acceptance in the world, THC is still barred from most sporting competitions and will show up on pre-drug tests. Because of this, athletics should be particularly careful about what CBD product they buy, ensuring it’s fully lab tested and opting for either an isolate or broad-spectrum formulation.
Additionally, for athletes competing in specific tournaments, it’s always important to check what the sport’s governing body has to say about CBD use.
However, for athletics using CBD for recovery post-competition, this is a lesser concern. Instead, you can focus on what your body needs in terms of potency and formulation, allowing much more freedom.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of CBD for Professional Action-Sport Athletes
Many professional athletes are already using CBD products in a bid to reduce pain, stress and even promote healthy sleep patterns.
Research also offers encouraging results, with several studies claiming that CBD has the potential to address the above issues, encouraging quick and comfortable recovery for professional athletes.
However, it’s important to note that many studies into these topics are ongoing.
To ensure the most effective results from your CBD product, buying from a trusted and well-renowned brand is an absolute must. Prominent companies, like PureKana, offer a wide range of products, high potency, and of course, detailed lab reports.