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What Athletes Should Know About CBD

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Through the course of a workout or a demanding performance on the field, athletes put their bodies through a lot of stress. The more rigorous the training, the greater the potential for positive results, but the wear and tear lead to injuries, damage, and pain. While there are lots of pain management options that are effective, there are some more natural pain relief options that athletes can take advantage of. Cannabidiol, more commonly called CBD, has been removed from the list of prohibited substances for athletes, making it a good option for natural support. Here are it’s key benefits.

Pain relief

There are multiple studies that show the pain-relieving effects of cannabis, mostly through THC but with CBD as well. It addresses musculoskeletal pain that may come from exercise routines, and it can also help with stiff joints. Though more research needs to be conducted, there are several athletes that have reported CBD to be an effective way to reduce their pain. Many athletes rely on the over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Aleve or Advil to help with their aches and pains. However, the medical community has warned against the prolonged use of NSAIDs during long events or training sessions, as there is an increased risk of renal damage. There is also a slight increase in the risk of a stroke or heart attack with continuous NSAID use. CDB has been used to reduce exercise-related pain in athletes without the same side effects associated with NSAIDs.

CBD has also been able to reduce dependency on opioids for pain management. Over the past few years, the U.S. has seen a sharp increase in the number of opioid-related deaths. Some of these deaths are from addictions, and others are from an overdose. Either way, using pain medications like codeine, morphine, and oxycontin carries significant risk. CBD doesn’t have the same effectiveness against high-intensity and persistent acute pain, but it makes a viable companion to other medications to have a reduced risk of dependency or accidental overdose.

Inflammation relief

Some inflammation can help athletes and their training adaptions, but too much inflammation with hurt their performance and keep recovery from happening quickly. There are multiple CB2 receptors found in and around the brain, but the receptors in the immune tissues are far more concentrated. Cannabinoids bind to the CB2 receptors and reduce the productivity of cell messenger. This dials down the response of the body once the immune system sends a signal that the body has been through a gruelling workout.

Inflammation can settle in the large and small intestines, causing a lot of discomforts. In endurance challenges and races, GI distress is one reason that athletes have to drop out of a race. Overheating and dehydration can also cause stomach problems, and though CBD doesn’t address either of these, it can help reduce the inflammation issues that may create gut issues during or after exercise.

Insomnia relief

For athletes, a good night’s sleep is crucial to helping the body heal from injuries or strain that occurred during exercise or routines. Restless sleep can lead to poor performance, but it can also reduce an individual’s energy levels. This makes it harder to put in the hours at the gym or in training, as the body and mind are depleted. CBD has been known to aid the body in relaxation, promoting a deeper night’s sleep. As CBD works inside the brain, it inhibits the release of neurotransmitters, in essence, slowing the brain down. As you begin to feel calmer, you are able to fully engage in productive sleep cycles. The anti-anxiety effect CBD has on some people also makes it easier for people to fall asleep when they have a lot on their minds.

Consistent support

The quality of the product chosen has everything to do with how effective it will be in addressing an individual’s aches, pains, or other health-related needs. CBD comes in a variety of capsules, pills, or as an oil to be applied topically. Some manufacturers have infused sports drinks with CBD, as well as made it into edibles and included in recovery drinks. For quick delivery, there are tinctures and drops that can be placed directly under the tongue.

For athletes looking to improve their performance, CBD is a way to help restore rest and reduce pain. It is a natural resource that carries powerful benefits.


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Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.

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