There is no doubt that cannabidiol, better known as CBD is having its moment of glory. And right now it seems that everyone and their dog – quite literally! – are getting on board the CBD train, using it to help them deal with everything from acne to anxiety. No surprise then that CBD is gaining attention in the sporting and fitness world as well.
Because CBD works with the body, pro-athletes, occasional walkers, weekend warriors, every-day-gym bunnies and everyone in between are reaping the benefits of CBD to help them perform and recover.
So, let’s find out why so many people are choosing to include CBD in their exercise and fitness plans and why you should consider using it too.
CBD FOR SPORT PERFORMANCE & RECOVERY
The benefits of CBD for those of us who decide to include into our health and fitness plans are a lot more subtle than for people living with serious conditions. There is also a lot more research that needs to be done on the benefits of CBD for athletes, both anecdotal as well as scientific evidence tout the benefits of CBD consumption before, during and/or after exercise.
CBD for Sport Performance
Our bodies have something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is predominantly made up out of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. Scientists have found that endocannabinoids such as anandamide and 2-AG help in regulating our emotions and cognitive functioning. In other words, when we have a high levels of anandamide and 2-AG, we feel better, perform better and we concentrate better.
This where CBD comes in.
We all have those days where we put on our workout gear, lace up our trainers and get going, just to figure out that your focus is just not there. Taking a dose of CBD pre-workout can help us get in the zone by increasing the levels of anandamide and 2-AG in our bodies.
CBD for Sport Recovery
There’s a reason why rest days are built into any exercise and training programme, whether you are getting ready for the town mini-marathon or training for the Olympics. As any pro-athlete will tell you, recovery is often just as important – if not more so – than the workout itself. Without adequate recovery can lead to muscle breakdowns, injuries that just don’t heal properly and chronic pain.
Why The Post-Workout Pain?
Whether you’re into yoga or hard-core spinning classes, sometimes you just feel stiff and sore after a session on the mat or in the gym. This stiffness and aching can lasts for a few hours, while other times it can last for days – no matter how fit you are.
The reason for this is that when we exercise our muscles, microscopic rips and tears damage the fibres in our muscles. When that happens our bodies respond by producing chemicals called prostaglandins which tell the body to respond and repair which causes inflammation. And it is this inflammatory response which causes our muscles to feel stiff and sore.
Although this sounds brutal, it is perfectly normal. Workouts are actually designed to break down muscle fibres because during recovery, they build themselves back up, making them stronger than before. This is why your strength, flexibility, endurance and other desirable workout things start happening to your body.
CBD for Sport: It Fights Inflammation
As mentioned, a huge part of the aches and pains associated with recovery is due to the body’s inflammatory response which is triggered by the release of prostaglandins. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are mostly due to two things.
Firstly, CBD has the ability to suppress the activity of one type of prostaglandins called cyclooxygenase in the same way as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Secondly, CBD also fights inflammatory oxidative stress by suppressing the immune response which plays a major role in inflammation and pain.
CBD for Sport: It Reduces Pain
In addition to CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, research shows it also has powerful analgesic effects. And it works in two ways.
Firstly, CBD restores the balance of endocannabinoids such as anandamide and FAAH which are thought to play a role in blocking pain signals. Secondly, CBD significantly reduces pain by suppressing the α3 GlyRs receptors which, when activated, cause the sensation of pain.
CBD for Sport: It Helps With Sleep
We all know that sleep is vital to our ability to heal and recover. Researchers have concluded that it is deep sleep specifically which helps improve athletic performance.
This is because it is during this time when growth hormone is released – the hormone which stimulates muscle growth and repair, bone building and fat burning. And because CBD has been shown to improving sleep, it seems that that post-workout dose of CBD is not such a bad idea.
HOW TO USE CBD FOR RECOVERY
For many, a simple CBD oil or gel cap is a convenient and easy way to incorporate CBD into their health and fitness regimes. One rule of thumb is that for every 10 pounds of body weight, a good dose is around 1 – 6 mg of CBD per dose.
But if that sounds like it’s a bit too much, another way is to begin with 5 – 10 mg of CBD per day and incrementally increasing it by another 5 – 10 mg per day until you find relief.
Going beyond CBD oils, CBD is also available in infused balms, lotions, edibles and vape pens. It is up to you to see what works for you, your lifestyle and your recovery. And as with CBD oils and capsules, most of the time, CBD dosage for these types of products is also a bit of trial and error.
FOR PRO-ATHELETES: CBD AND DRUG TESTING
Unfortunately, drug testing in sport is a hairy beast, with cannabinoids currently listed as a banned substance. But the test that is used is focussed on the metabolites of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD will not come up during a drug screening. So for those of you using a pure CBD product that doesn’t contain any THC, you can rest assured that you’re not breaking any rules.
Similarly, the reason for drug testing in sports is mostly concerned with one athlete having an unfair advantage over another because of drugs or other types of chemicals. Because CBD is a gentle compound with no potential for stimulation or intoxication, using it also doesn’t violate the spirit of sportsmanship.
And there are many sporting bodies who agree that the performance enhancing and recovery properties of CBD makes it a superb addition to any athlete’s training regimen – to the extent that some of them like the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are now allowing its use.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with a physician if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should always be sought before before embarking on any new treatment.