Health & Wellness April 22, 2020

Benefits of CBD for Athletes

Athletes are near-constantly damaging their bodies; there’s no way around it because the damage caused by exercise and exertion is how improvements in strength and endurance are achieved. When lifting weights or engaging in cardio, the efforts of exercise creates microscopic tears and stresses in the muscles used, leading to the body rebuilding them even stronger. Regular exercise also increases the risk of injuries ranging from serious trauma like tearing a muscle or breaking a bone to minor damage like sprains and bruises. This makes it all the more important that athletes seriously consider the different means of aiding the body’s natural recovery process. While many people choose to seek relief through simple self-care techniques like the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), a persistent or more serious injury will often lead to the use of medicinal pain relievers. As more research finds that medicinal pain relievers such as NSAIDs and opioids pose long-term health risks, athletes both professional and casual are considering the uses of cannabidiol as a safer recovery tool.


Effects of CBD 

CBD has become a hot topic since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill made it considerably more accessible, but why exactly does CBD have such effective pain-relieving qualities? Scientists performing early research on CBD discovered that cannabinoids exist naturally in the human body, and are regulated by the endocannabinoid system, which also regulates neuron activity. To put it simply, the body naturally produces certain cannabinoids that bind to receptors in the nervous system which affect sensations of pain. It’s thought that CBD derived from cannabis or hemp derivatives act as a supplement to the body’s natural endocannabinoids. This supplementary effect is what creates the pain and inflammation relief that CBD has become known for. 


Common Sports Injuries and Current Relief Methods

Spending time on athletic activity can be one of the best things you can do for your health, both physical and mental. Unfortunately, exercising is also a very common way to injure yourself. The most common sports injuries are strains and sprains, which are caused by overstretching ligaments or tendons. Muscle pulls are similar to strains and sprains and often occur in the quadriceps, calves, lower back, and groin. Most people’s first method of relief from these common injuries are simple but effective. The RICE method is easy enough to apply it almost immediately and provides a solution for many of these minor injuries. When the RICE method doesn’t provide adequate relief, the next option is usually an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. These NSAIDs include common pain relievers like Advil and Aleve and are generally safe to use, but long-term or frequent use has been linked to increased risk of renal damage of heart attack and stroke. Serious injuries that require more significant medical care such as torn ligaments or broken bones may result in the prescription of opioids, which are powerful pain relievers but create a significant risk of addiction and overdose.


How Can CBD Help Athletes?

The pain-relieving qualities of CBD can be of great use to athletes looking to avoid overuse of pain-relieving medications. Regardless of the consumption method, CBD can relieve enough pain to reduce the frequency of use of NSAIDs, or even make them unnecessary entirely. CBD may not be as powerful as prescribed opioids but the use of CBD in combination with NSAIDs may reduce how long someone needs to take opioids. The utility of CBD for athletes is not just limited to pain relief, though. Inflammation is a constant issue for athletes that makes it more difficult to continue a workout and increases recovery time. CBD applied topically in the form of a lotion or balm can help pinpoint relief to an aching knee or shin. Even inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can be relieved by CBD taken in the form of a pre- or post-workout shake, making it easier to continue exercising for long periods of time. After the workout is finished, CBD can continue to help a worn-out athlete by assisting in getting a quality night of sleep, which is crucial to improving gains from exercise.


What Are the Best Ways for Athletes to Consume CBD?

As the market begins to populate with increasing numbers of CBD producers, CBD appears in new forms. Capsules, sublingual tinctures and oils, vaporizer cartridges, and all manner of edibles are only some of the products currently on the market. Different forms of CBD are metabolized by the body in slightly ways, which can be important when using it for specific reasons. Edible forms need the most time to take effect because of the digestive process, but will often last longer than other forms. A tincture or drop placed under the tongue will usually be felt faster than other methods, because the cannabidiol can enter the blood vessels directly. Lotions and topical creams take effect relatively quickly and are useful because they allow you to precisely target problem areas, making them most people’s preference for sports injuries.


The body of research on CBD and other cannabinoids continues to grow, and CBD seems to be growing as an effective alternative for traditional pain relief methods. It’s important to keep up to date on the legality and regulation of CBD under your local laws, but if it is an option for you, you may want to give it a try the next time you’re feeling sore after a tough workout.