If you participate in sports, whether competitive or recreational, you’ve learned to live with pain. Athletes are always fighting through something: sprains, strains, soreness, bruises, inflammation, you name it. The question is how to address these injuries in a way that enables you to recover and get active again as quickly as possible.
Traditional anti-inflammatory drugs can only do so much, and not everybody has access to a masseuse or physical therapist. So a lot of amateur athletes are forced to go on the hunt for alternative methods of recovery.
One of those alternatives is cannabidiol, or CBD. Over the past few years, CBD has grown from an obscure cannabis ingredient into a massively popular natural supplement. Today, people use CBD for countless reasons, from anxiety and insomnia to arthritis and seizure disorders.
Athletes of all ability levels have taken note. Indeed, some of the world’s biggest sporting icons—including Mike Tyson, Rob Gronkowski and Megan Rapinoe—have spoken publicly about their positive experience with CBD.
But do the facts measure up to the hype? That’s what we’re going to find out.
A lot of people still have questions about what CBD is, where it comes from, its legality, etc. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as you might think.
CBD is a cannabinoid, which means it is a naturally occurring compound in the Cannabis sativa plant. Because marijuana is known for its ability to make users intoxicated, some people assume isolated CBD has the same effect. But that’s not the case: THC is responsible for the high one experiences when ingesting marijuana; CBD has nothing to do with it.
The federal government legalized CBD in 2018. Since then, as you might have noticed, CBD shops have been popping up all over the place.
In sum: CBD is a constituent of cannabis, it does not make you high, and it is absolutely legal. And in case you were wondering, no, it is not prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
How does CBD help athletes?
Depending on what ails you, CBD could be just what the doctor ordered. As I write, tons of research is being done on CBD as scientists and physicians work to determine the extent of its medicinal value. So far, the results tell us that CBD is or may be effective for:
- Chronic pain
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- Drug addiction
In the context of sports, inflammation is a big one. Every time we exercise a muscle group, we’re causing a little bit of damage to the muscle fibers. That’s why we feel sore the day after a particularly hard workout or training session. Of course, if you condition your body properly, your muscle fibers mend themselves and become stronger than they were before.
But sometimes our muscles or joints respond to the repeated stress by becoming inflamed. If you’re not careful, inflammation can put you out of action for days, weeks, or even months. A CBD freeze for muscle relief can help you zap inflammation before it turns into a real problem.
As all successful athletes know, putting in the hard yards is essential.
But so too is getting enough rest. Sleep deprivation is detrimental to an athlete’s day-to-day recovery, and therefore to his or her overall performance. According to a number of recent studies, CBD functions as an effective sleep aid without causing excessive drowsiness.
If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, try taking a CBD capsule at bedtime. Don’t like capsules? Not to worry—CBD is available in numerous forms including oils, foods, drinks, candy and topicals.
Is CBD safe? What about dosage?
CBD is recognized by healthcare professionals as a safe and effective supplement. Common side effects include diarrhea, changes in appetite and dry mouth.
As for dosage, that depends on the individual and the type of injury being treated. Some people will find relief from 5 mg of CBD; others will need to take more. Begin with a small dose and increase it gradually.
If you take prescription medication, you shouldn’t start a CBD regimen without first talking to your doctor to rule out any drug interactions. Last but not least, make sure you get your CBD from a reputable company.