This article discusses CBD oil for athletes, its benefits, and whether it is safe, to help you decide if it is worth taking. We will also look at how to incorporate it into your diet should you decide to do so.
Ask any athlete, and they will tell you that muscle inflammation, aches, sprains, and niggling injuries can be a constant companion. People who participate in high-impact activities such as HIIT and running are particularly prone to this.
Taking time out to recover makes sticking to a routine impossible. As a result, progress is hindered, and it becomes difficult to meet fitness goals.
Professional athletes usually don’t have the luxury of being able to take time off to rest and recover from injury. By taking CBD oil, they often won’t have to. And, with it now removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) blacklists, they can take it without risking getting banned.
For these reasons and more, the popularity of CBD oil, or cannabidiol, has increased over the last couple of years. Taken pre or post-workout or competition it can help to reduce or prevent injury-related pain and inflammation. According to its advocates, it can also enable you to go beyond your current limits and increase your endurance.
Legal CBD products use a non-psychoactive property that is a derivative of the stalks and stems of the hemp plant. They contain less than 0.3% THC, with some containing none at all, so you won’t get high when taking it.
NB: Synthetic cannabinoid THC and natural cannabinoids including cannabis, marijuana, and hashish, are prohibited by WADA and USADA.
According to its proponents, CBD oil has numerous benefits. Included among these is that it may help to manage medical conditions such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, IBS, psoriasis, and some neurodegenerative diseases.
There is also strong evidence that it can improve heart health, and help those who are trying to quit smoking and trying to get off illegal drugs. It may also help to shrink cancerous tumors.
I am not a medical professional so I can’t offer advice on the above. If you suffer from any of these conditions and you want to know if CBD oil can benefit you, check with your doctor or health care specialist.
Keep reading to find out about the benefits of CBD oil for athletes.
Benefits of CBD Oil for Athletes
No matter how fit and well-prepared, athletes experience a degree of impact trauma every time they perform or compete. This can range from muscle aches, pain, and strains to bone stress injury, knee and other joint injuries, fractures, and more.
Following are 8 reasons you may want to consider taking CBD oil to help improve your sporting performance.
Offers excellent pain relief
CBD oil is a natural product that can help to manage injury-related pain and inflammation from arthritis without risking the side-effects and potential addiction that can come from using OTC and strong prescribed painkillers. It is safe, effective, and non-habit forming.
It’s advised that ultradistance athletes should not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium during extended training sessions or when participating in long races and competitions. This is because NSAIDs increase the risk of renal damage in these circumstances.
Athletes participating in short events are not without risk either, with those who frequently take NSAIDs or have done so for a long time being at an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
CBD oil can help you to cut back on NSAIDs, or even eliminate them. It may also a viable alternative to opioids.
Opioids such as codeine, oxycontin, and morphine are highly effective at managing pain. Unfortunately, they come with a substantial risk of addiction and even accidental death caused by overdosing, with tens of thousands of deaths attributed to this each year in the US alone.
While CBD oil will not control acute and highly intense pain to the same extent as opioids, it may help to decrease the amount you need, and therefore reduce your risk of dependence and an accidental overdose.
NB: If you abruptly stop taking prescribed medication, you may experience side-effects and withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, you should check with your doctor before you cease taking your current painkillers.
There’s no denying that prescription and some non-prescription painkillers bring relief from pain. CBD oil offers a similar level of relief for most people, and it has the bonus of speeding up recovery time.
Useful for treating head injuries
CBD oil can speed up recovery and limit the neurological damage that can occur following a head injury or trauma sustained when playing sport. This can be the difference between being severely concussed and feeling temporarily dazed and foggy-headed.
Boosts the immune system
Serious athletes and even those who partake in sports socially will, at some point, experience the disappointment and frustration of getting a cold or feeling off-color right before a big competition or game.
Taken regularly, CBD oil, with its high level of antioxidants, boosts the immune system. It can help you to stay healthy and train optimally. Proponents say that it can also reduce the risk of infection.
Can curb the appetite
CBD oil helps to curb the appetite, making it easier to lose any excess weight or to maintain a healthy weight and so improve sporting performance.
This may come as a surprise because cannabis is often associated with an increase in appetite. However, the reality is that THC is what gives cannabis users “the munchies.” With the level of THC in cannabis oil being so low, this is not an issue. In fact, the opposite is the case, with the oil often decreasing appetite and giving a feeling of fullness for longer.
Additionally, CBD oil improves insulin function, which also helps to control overeating.
Helps to calm an upset stomach
If you’re a competitive runner, you may have experienced the discomfort and embarrassment of diarrhea before or during competition. Known as Runner’s Trot, this occurs due to blood being directed away from the intestines and towards the legs. This can cause nausea or even an uncontrollable bowel movement. Other reasons it can occur are related to stress and a strict training diet.
Research has shown that CBD oil can help to prevent Runner’s Trot by reducing intestinal inflammation. It can also decrease the anxiety that can occur before a big race by increasing serotonin in the brain.
Decreases stress and anxiety
CBD oil has proven anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties that can help professional or social athletes better cope with stress and anxiety before a big race or game.
The relaxing properties of CBD oil have proven to provide relief from stress-induced insomnia. Multiple studies have confirmed this, with the participants noting remarkable improvement. This makes the oil particularly useful in the days leading up to a race or competition.
Are there any side-effects?
Because CBD oil has only been legalized (in some states and countries) for a relatively short time, there is not a lot of long-term safety data.
Adverse side-effects are rare and usually non-serious. These include fatigue, diarrhea, and a reduction in appetite that can lead to weight loss. To help prevent these, start by taking the lowest recommended dose. Gradually increase this until you find the level that suits you, but don’t take more than the maximum suggested dose.
According to the Essentials of Pain Medicine, Fourth Edition, no deaths have been attributed to cannabinoid-based products. However, be aware that CBD may interact with certain OTC medications and dietary supplements, and possibly some prescribed medications. For this reason, before taking it, check with your doctor that it is safe for you to do so.
How to Take it
One of the easiest ways to take CBD is in a tincture form beneath the tongue. There are also CBD coffees and sports drinks.
Slow-release CBD edibles are another convenient option. These include CBD infused Gummy Bears and other candies, chocolates, caramels, and more. These come in a variety of different flavors and several strengths.
Vaping is a possibility, but it is not one I would recommend, as it could diminish your lung capacity, and therefore affect your health as well as your sporting performance.
You may also like to try directly applying a CBD balm to relieve muscle pain or injury-related swelling.
NB: Always buy a reputable CBD oil product brand from a trusted seller. If you are unsure of which one to get, read the label before purchasing.
Look for certification of the product’s contents from an unaffiliated source. This is important for your own peace-of-mind. And it is vital to ascertain that the product meets legal standards, in case you are required to take a drug test.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of CBD Oil for Athletes
The benefits of CBD oil for athletes are indisputable. The products offer a natural, non-harmful way of treating pain and specific injuries and reducing the recovery time. They can also boost the immune system, assist with appetite-control, help to calm anxiety and an upset stomach, and promote restful slumber.
Negative side-effects are rare, particularly when used as a topical to relieve pain in a targeted area.