It is well known that maintaining excellent overall health is an essential part of performing well as an athlete. Beyond the energy that must be expended to complete training programs, a significant amount of effort also goes into time spent taking care of both the body and mind of athletes before and after workouts. From following a diet that supports proper nutrition to getting enough rest and recovery each day, both physical and mental health must be fully accounted for in order for athletes to reach and maintain peak athletic performance.
While there have always been cases in the athletic world in which illegal substances like steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs have been used to skirt around the rules and boost performance, it is important to keep in mind that more gold medals have undoubtedly been won through fair play. In this article, we are going to discuss the benefits of an alternative, legal substance which that provides benefits to athletes in a completely safe and natural way: CBD.
Before we begin, what is CBD and what are CBD Products?
CBD is one of the major, naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis plant. If you’ve heard of the Cannabis plant, you’ve likely also heard of its other major compound: THC. THC, the psychoactive compound in Cannabis, is still widely illegal in the U.S. (with the exception of a few states) and is definitely illegal when it comes to athletic competition. Additionally, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees anti-doping efforts in the U.S., also prohibits the 115 other Cannabinoids found the in the Cannabis plant (USADA).
100% pure CBD is the exception. CBD products, when extracted carefully from Cannabis, are be completely free of THC and other cannabinoids and therefore can be used by athletes without penalty. While CBD has not yet been researched well enough to be considered for use as a primary medical treatment for any illness or disease, it is scientifically proven to be an effective supplement for supporting the health of the body’s Endocannabinoid system, which plays a major role in maintaining homeostasis in the body. For athletes, improved health of the Endocannabinoid system translates to the potential not only for major improvements in performance, but also overall health and well being. Specifically, as we will detail in the following paragraphs, CBD has the potential to help athletes beat performance anxiety, reduce pain, boost sleep, fight inflammation, and accelerate recovery and fatigue.
Before proceeding any further, it should be emphasized that all CBD products intended for use by athletes must be third-party tested and 100% pure. Only 100% pure CBD isolate (not Full Spectrum CBD) should be used by athletes in the United States. So although the best hemp cream for pain may be full spectrum, athletes should look for CBD pain relief rub, CBD lotion, and other CBD products that contain only 100% pure CBD isolate. Now, without further ado, here are just a few of the most beneficial effects of CBD for athletes.
Top 5 Benefits of CBD for Athletes:
CBD Can Help Athletes Beat Performance Anxiety
From the minor leagues to the Olympics, the pressure of competition is widely felt among athletes of all levels. For many, this kind of anxiety can be a factor that negatively contributes not only to poor performance outcomes, but also to worsening states of mental and physical health. Supplementing regularly with CBD isolate can help in this regard because it has been proven to improve motivational disorders like anxiety and depression (Natalie E. Zlebnik and Joseph F Cheer). It can also be a useful product to fight alcohol addiction for those who are addicted. For athletes who tend to experience feelings of stress and anxiety before performance events and even workouts, CBD could be a viable solution which offers improvements without the side effects commonly experienced from pharmaceutical drugs.
CBD Can Reduce Pain
From dealing with injuries, to post-workout soreness and aches, pain can be an all-too-common sensation for hard-working athletes. As a solution, there is both scientific and anecdotal evidence showing CBD’s ability to alleviate inflammatory and neuropathic pain (Wei Xiong et. al). Although more studies need to be done to determine the extent to which CBD can alleviate many different types of pain, CBD certainly will never make pain worse and is sure to make pain better in many cases.
CBD Can Increase the Quality of Sleep
Both athletes and their coaches know that getting enough sleep is integral to maintaining optimal health and performance. But unfortunately, a number of factors can contribute to poor sleep quality, including mental health disorders and PTSD, medication, certain physical conditions, stimulants like sugar and caffeine, and environmental factors. In many cases, studies show that CBD presents a natural alternative that can help athletes rest and recover better at night. (Ferguson, Sian). However, understanding why sleep problems happen in the first place is the first step to solving them in the long-term. In terms of sleep problems, CBD should be considered a short term solution.
CBD has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
When muscles are broken down during workouts, inflammation occurs. Although the body has natural processes of reducing inflammation on its own, there are a number of other natural measures that can be taken to speed up the inflammation-reduction process. As mentioned above, CBD is a proven way to decrease inflammation and neuropathic pain (Wei Xiong et. al).
CBD can Speed Recovery and Reduce Fatigue
Going into workouts or performances feeling tired, without enough recovery, is a recipe for burnout and injuries among athletes. Supplementing CBD can be a good way to prevent this, again, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, and because CBD consumers anecdotally commonly report increased energy levels and better sleep patterns.
Although research on the Endocannabinoid system is still in its early stages, we do know that CBD has the potential to help maintain the overall health and wellbeing of athletes in a number of ways and to boost performance. For the average athlete, the beginning fitness enthusiast, or the experienced pro looking for a new edge, CBD isolate products present new opportunities that are promising, natural, and legal.
For more information on specific CBD isolate products, be sure to stay informed on the latest CBD reviews and research.
- (USADA). https://www.usada.org/six-things-know-about-cannabidiol
- (Natalie E. Zlebnik and Joseph F Cheer). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5818147/
- (Wei Xiong et. al). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371734/
- (Ferguson, Sian). https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-insomia#takeaway