CBD and Athletes: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Flora Sophia on

You’re doing all the right things: hitting the gym regularly (even leg day), watching what you eat, and pushing yourself hard when that first whistle blows on the field. Why then aren’t you reaching your personal sports or fitness goals? 

Testing the limits of your body is one of the most worthwhile pursuits there is for personal growth and maintaining your health. But it’s also a non-stop challenge by design. That leaves many athletes looking wherever they can for an edge that will help them progress, CBD included.

In this article, you’ll discover what role CBD can play in your active lifestyle, whether or not it’s worth trying, and which kind of CBD may work best for you. Can CBD give you that much-needed second wind come game day?

Read on to find out!

What is CBD? 

CBD is a cannabinoid extracted from hemp. Cannabinoids are compounds found in every plant in existence and also naturally produced in our body. Researchers have been studying CBD more extensively in recent years thanks to its potential therapeutic benefits across all kinds of conditions. CBD also doesn’t cause the intoxicating high that its big brother marijuana can.

Does CBD affect athletic performance?

Because of cannabis’ legal standing on the federal level, studies about CBD are difficult to fund. Research is often limited in both scope and duration. This makes figuring out if—and how—CBD affects athletic performance a tough task. 

There are no studies directly examining the link between athleticism and CBD use as of this writing, but the data suggests that CBD’s holistic, helpful qualities offer some excellent benefits for athletes. Since these benefits can boost your overall health, CBD might indirectly improve sports performance as a result.

How does CBD help athletes? 

The safety of CBD is well documented across the vast majority of studies. Studies on CBD for pain or seizures in particular administer astronomical doses of CBD (compared to what an average consumer would ever take) with little to no negative side effects. But can it help you in the gym or on the field?

Let’s take a closer look at four of CBD’s potential benefits for athletes. 

Muscle Pain and CBD

CBD topicals are excellent for localized relief, especially the day after an intense workout. Topicals can be applied directly to any affected area and will start working immediately. Most CBD topicals used in this way are loaded with other helpful botanicals like peppermint, arnica, and minor cannabinoids that increase skin penetration (and relief).

CBD studies show that this kind of topical use is effective for all kinds of chronic pain and irritated skin, including more severe conditions like arthritis and neuropathy.

Sleep and CBD

One of the most important things any athlete can do is get a great night’s sleep. Sleep is the only time of day your muscles can properly recover from training. And waking up fully recovered and ready to train again is a direct result of quality sleep. Besides feeling sore longer than you have to, studies show how strongly poor sleep affects performance. You can expect slightly slower reaction speeds and finish times in any discipline after a sleepless night. 

And poor sleep hurts your mental health too! Insomnia has been directly linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Either can indirectly affect your performance during training or on game day.  

CBD helps athletes in this arena because it encourages restful sleep in most people. One CBD sleep study found improvements in sleep scores over a three-month period. These scores were well-maintained over time too. So if you’re looking for an all-natural way to get those sweet Zz’s in, CBD is well worth a try.

Inflammation and CBD

Inflammation is a natural response to an intense workout, as your muscles swell from the micro-tears you’re creating when you work so hard. But with too much inflammation, you’ve got a problem. An overactive inflammatory response may prevent recovery to the damaged tissue, impair motor function of that muscle group, and even promote muscle deterioration. And no athlete enjoys not seeing results—or worse, a loss in muscle—after all their hard work. The good news is CBD can be a great help for this kind of inflammation.

In fact, one of CBD’s most studied benefits is its effect on inflammation. CBD has been proven to reduce the prevalence of a certain kind of pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemicals produced in the body that have certain effects on our immune system). By reducing these chemicals (along with several other complex biological processes), CBD indirectly reduces inflammation in the body. This reduction may speed up recovery and prevent the loss of muscle or muscle function in people with an overactive inflammatory response.

Appetite and CBD

CBD works by interacting with a receptor in your body called CB1. This receptor is responsible for regulating food intake, enhancing flavor and smell in food, and promoting a healthy appetite. Taking CBD diminishes the response of CB1, which should in turn cause a drop in appetite and food intake. This 2022 CBD and appetite study saw 11 trials performed. The majority of participants had a reduced appetite and loss of body weight, making CBD something to consider if your fitness goals include weight loss. 

But you should keep in mind that anecdotal evidence suggests that everyone reacts differently to CBD. The study backed this up, showing one trial of participants with increased appetites who gained weight and a few trials which had no effects at all. 

What is the best CBD for athletes? 

What CBD you should try depends on the benefit you’re looking to tap into. Below, you’ll find a brief guide based on your needs.

CBD for Muscle Pain

While any form of CBD may theoretically help with pain, for both acute and chronic muscle pain or soreness, a topical CBD product is the way to go. A topical will offer immediate relief to any area affected by pain. And since topical CBD never enters your bloodstream, you can use strong topicals as needed without any risk of negative side effects, no matter how powerful the product may be. Throwing a CBD salve in your gym bag ensures any lingering post-workout soreness won’t be lingering long. 

CBD for Better Sleep

For quality sleep, you’ll want a CBD product with long-lasting effects. So CBD gummies or tinctures should fit nicely here. Gummies should be your first choice since their effects last several hours longer than a tincture. Do keep in mind that onset time is about 30 minutes to an hour, so time your sleep accordingly. 

If you’re in need of a more immediate and acute sleep aid, go for a CBD tincture. Effects start kicking in 15 minutes after consumption.

CBD for Inflammation 

For more localized treatment of inflammation, a CBD topical should work nicely. Use topicals for post-workout soreness and on recovery days when you need immediate relief in a given area. Or, you may want to try a daily CBD routine to naturally regulate inflammation over the long-term. Playing with both approaches is an excellent way to see which your body responds best to.

CBD for Recovery

The advice above for inflammation holds true here too. Turn to topicals for localized, immediate help and tinctures or gummies for steady, long-term results. Keeping your CBD routine limited to bedtime only may be a route worth trying too. That way, you can ensure the best natural recovery possible (and sleep like a baby too)!

Flora Sophia CBD 

That just about sums up everything you’ll need to know about CBD for sports and athletes! If you’d like to try CBD yourself to see how it affects your game, just head over to our product page. It’s stacked with all the tinctures, topicals, and gummies you could want to hit those fitness goals this year.

And if you’re looking to learn a little more, don’t forget to take a look at our educational blog, loaded with up-to-date, science-backed goodness like this article. 

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