How Athletes Take CBD
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting new supplement trends in the sports and fitness world at the moment is CBD. Also known as cannabidiol, the hemp-derived compound has been hailed by many as a wonder remedy that can help with everything from stress management to appetite control.
These positive side effects obviously appeal to people from all walks of life. There is a growing body of research that suggests CBD oil could help people with a range of conditions, such as epilepsy, diabetes and skin conditions. However, some of the reported benefits also make CBD oil especially interesting for people in the fitness industry.
In fact, athletes are one of the core groups that support CBD, with many well-known faces openly talking about how they use the supplement. These include the Diaz brothers from the MMA world, rugby players Dominc Day and George Kruis and former NFL player Terrell Davies. You can read more about these celebrity fans in our list of 11 Famous Athletes Who Publicly Advocate CBD, or read on to discover how these athletes use CBD when training.
Firstly, are athletes allowed to use CBD?
One of the main concerns for fitness enthusiasts before they explore CBD is whether it’s allowed – both within the law, and more specifically by various sporting regulators. Cannabidiol is a natural substance found in hemp and cannabis plants, and so many people understandably worry about whether or not it’s legal.
Thankfully, the answer is yes. In the UK, CBD oil is completely legal as long as it’s pure cannabidiol. Pure CBD is defined as cannabidiol that’s derived from EU-approved industrial hemp, which contains less than 0.2% THC. THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and is what produces the ‘high’ effect when cannabis is smoked or ingested. As long as there aren’t any levels of THC alongside the cannabidiol then the positive effects of CBD can be enjoyed within the law.
In the sporting industry, CBD has also managed to shake off its association with cannabis. Since January 2018, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has removed it from its list of prohibited substances. This means that it’s safe to use in professional sporting competitions, and won’t be regarded as performance-enhancing.
How do athletes use CBD?
There is a huge range of CBD oil products available on the market, from vaping e-liquids and gummies to infused tea bags and even lip balms. This means that how and when athletes use CBD can vary.
- CBD for Pain Relief
One of the main ways that athletes use cannabidiol is as a pain reliever. Whether you’re working out recreationally or involved at a professional level, pain can get in the way of performance. This might be as simple as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (or DOMS), which are the post-workout aches that make it impossible to train for a few days. Or, it could be something more serious such as a sprain or old injury that resurfaces.
Traditionally, opiates have been prescribed by doctors to relieve pain, especially in the US. Drugs such as fentanyl and codeine are often given to athletes at a professional level, despite their highly addictive properties. In the UK, athletes are more likely to rely on anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen, but even these have a number of negative side effects when taken in the long-term.
CBD oil is thought by many to be a natural form of pain relief due to how it helps the endocannabinoid system (or ECS) ensure signals are sent to the brain correctly – including the signals that produce chemicals linked to happiness and wellness.
There are a number of ways that athletes can use CBD for pain relief, such as taking vitamins, using CBD oil drops or even with infused massage oils and balms.
2. CBD for Stress Management
Like many other people in the world, athletes are susceptible to anxiety and stress in their day-to-day lives. However, they often also suffer from additional stresses if they play a professional sport or compete at a high level. ‘Match day nerves’ can seriously affect mood, sleep and concentration – all of which could ultimately impact on performance.
CBD oil has been known to help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety, helping people to feel more calm and relaxed. Again, this is largely due to how it reacts in the ECS to make levels of serotonin more potent.
In addition to this, many people also report that CBD helps them to get a better night’s sleep. Its impact is thought to be two-fold: first, it helps people get to sleep more quickly; and secondly, it helps people have a deeper sleep once they do drop off. For people who often spend the night before a competition or match awake and worrying, this can be a crucial benefit.
Athletes will often use the same CBD oil products for stress management as they do pain relief. However, other products that could be particularly suited for this type of use also include infused teas or even e-liquid for vaping. Both of these products mimic ways in which people often manage their stress anyway, making them popular alternatives.
3. CBD to Maintain Focus When Training
The above outline the ways in which athletes may use CBD ahead of a workout, but did you know that it can also be enjoyed during a session? One of the reasons that athletes may choose to do this is for improved focus. This can be particularly useful when training for a big event, when long endurance exercises or repetitive sessions can cause boredom to set in.
While research around the topic is in its early stages, there is some evidence to suggest that CBD oil can improve concentration. Athletes can therefore stay focused on the task at hand, maintain good form and complete their session feeling good.
Not all CBD products are appropriate to take in this way, as they would either get in the way of training, or take too long to enter the system. CBD-infused sports drinks, however, are ideal for this as they fit so naturally into a workout. They also provide the same benefits as other sports drinks, such as improved hydration and replacing lost electrolytes.
4. CBD for Post-Workout Recovery
Athletes use many different supplements to help with their recovery post-workout. These include things such as protein to rebuild and repair muscles, and BCAAs to help with muscle soreness. However, CBD oil is increasingly becoming a popular post-workout supplement.
This is mainly due to the anti-inflammatory properties that are associated with cannabidiol. Inflammation is a natural part of the recovery process after a body has been pushed physically, however too much inflammation can cause pain and even lead to some long-term health problems.
CBD can suppress inflammation, meaning that athletes’ muscles can recover more quickly after an intense workout. Not only could this mean less pain and discomfort, but it could also mean a reduced number of rest days needed between intense workout sessions.
Athletes enjoying our infused sports drink during a workout will continue to enjoy the benefits of CBD after their session has finished, or they can choose to save the drink until they have finished. Other popular products for people using CBD post-workout include massage oils that can be applied topically to problem areas of the body.
5. CBD for Appetite Control
Finally, many athletes also use CBD oil for its associations with weight management. Many people have reported having a reduced appetite when using the supplement, which can be helpful for people who need to maintain a strict diet. By removing the temptation to snack or eat unhealthy foods, athletes can focus on foods that nourish them and fuel their workouts.
Popular products for athletes looking to use CBD in this way include ones that they can add into their diet as a substitute for a snack. Infused teas and coffees work particularly well, and can reduce the chances of late-night eating.
How to Get Started with CBD
If you’re a professional or semi-professional athlete, or just someone who is looking to take your fitness more seriously, then CBD may be something you’re interested in exploring. The following tips are recommended for getting started with cannabidiol:
- Ensure you only buy CBD oil products from legitimate, reputable companies such as Endo Sport
- Start with small doses of the compound to see how CBD effects you – the 10mg in our sports drinks are a great amount for people new to the compound
- Choose products that fit in well with your lifestyle, such as drinks or supplements
You can also find a lot of helpful articles on fitness and CBD in our Blog.