CBD & Sports: Everything You Need To Know

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Can cannabis give an edge to your exercise routine? Let’s take a look at the current state of CBD’s relationship with sport and exercise performance and recovery.

Cannabis and sports have had a complex relationship over the years. On the one hand, weed has enjoyed long associations with sports like skateboarding. On the other hand, stigma has historically cast a shadow over cannabis use in athletics more generally.

Luckily, the stigma is lifting. Sweeping legalization and scientific research into cannabis’ diverse benefits are igniting interest in its sporting potential. Various professional skiers, UFC fighters, NBA and NFL players have all “come out of the closet” as weed warriors. In some cases, they’ve even signed industry sponsorships.

Not quite ready to go pro? Don’t let that stop you. The benefits of cannabis in sports are as relevant to the average gym-goer as they are to elite athletes. Wondering how to reap those benefits while avoiding any pitfalls? The key seems to be CBD

CBD is non-psychotropic, can aid in muscle recovery, and boost your immune system. It can help your body relax and focus your energy where it’s needed most. We’ve got the rundown, so grab your workout gear and let’s get into it.

EXERCISE AND THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM

We’ve all heard about exercise, endorphins, and the classic “runner’s high“. Let’s be honest, the boost you get after going to the gym is what keeps most people going back. Well, research shows endorphins may only be one piece of the feel-good puzzle. When it comes to physical activity, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) could be essential.

The ECS includes neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids and a series of related cell receptors. Endocannabinoids bind to these receptors, triggering various responses throughout the body. The phytocannabinoids in cannabis, like THC and CBD, also stimulate these receptors. Since the ECS is expressed in many biological systems, cannabis can affect our bodies in diverse ways.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine[1], exercise activates the endocannabinoid system. Effects may include pain relief, immune regulation, a reduction in anxiety, and an increased sense of well-being. Researchers hypothesise that cannabinoids could be key to the natural high you get after physical activity. The relationship of the ECS to exercise could even play a significant role in healthy aging[2].

THE BENEFITS OF CBD IN SPORT

While THC and its euphoria-inducing properties tend to get all the glory, more attention has recently been paid to CBD. CBD, or cannabidiol, is non-intoxicating. It won’t get you stoned, but it does carry numerous benefits.

When it comes to sports, cannabis is a banned substance in many arenas. CBD on its own is not. The World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from their list in 2018. The door is wide open—no matter your sport, no matter your level. From pro-athlete to weekend bush-league warrior, anyone can get a boost from CBD.

Here are some of the ways you could benefit…

MUSCLE AND JOINT RECOVERY

Picture this common scenario: you leave the gym or peace-out after a weekend football game and you’re walking on air. You went hard and it feels good. Exhausted in the best possible way, you head home, lay down, and prepare to melt into your mattress. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, a shooting pain jolts you awake. You’ve got a killer cramp and that charley-horse in your calf is ruining the satisfaction you felt earlier.

CBD could be your rescue remedy. Aches and pains after a workout are largely caused by microscopic tears in your muscle fibre. This leads to inflammation, soreness, and cramps. CBD can help reduce inflammation[2] and relax your muscles, allowing them to heal… and you to sleep.

The same properties that treat muscle spasms also help you get deeper into those post-workout stretches. CBD’s relaxing properties can help you limber up and get into fighting shape. When you’re tensed up, it’s easy to hurt yourself during physical activity. Using CBD to relieve excess tension could help you prevent future injuries.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory benefits aren’t limited to your muscles. CBD can help ease pain and inflammation throughout the body, including overworked, tired joints. It’s even shown promise for treating chronic conditions like arthritis[3].

In this context, many athletes are turning to CBD to treat injuries and chronic pain. Traditional pain medications can come with serious side effects. CBD provides a natural alternative to harsher treatments.

COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE AND ANXIETY RELIEF

Sports and exercise can be a great way to work out your stress. That’s partially due to the natural boost you get from endorphins (and those endocannabinoids we talked about). At the same time, sports can be a unique source of stress. Performance anxiety can plague athletes at any level.

If you’re stressing about the big game or generally prone to psyching yourself out, we empathise. Even though they’re in your head, negative thoughts can affect your ability to focus and perform. CBD has shown great effectiveness at treating anxiety[4] in research settings. It also has neuroprotective properties[5] that could boost cognitive performance.

So, the next time your nerves get the better of you, consider supplementing with CBD. It could help you calm down, focus, and redirect your energy.

THE RISE OF CBD IN SPORTS

We’re not the only ones who see the incredible potential of CBD in sports. More and more pro athletes are speaking out[6] about their own CBD experiences. The list includes NHL players, NFL stars[7], UFC fighters, and beyond.

This revolution is leading to new and exciting products on the horizon. Everything from CBD energy drinks and sports wellness beverages to CBD-infused protein powder and bath soaks are making the rounds online and in stores.

HOW TO INCORPORATE CBD INTO YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE

Whether you’re dropping in on a halfpipe, playing in a state championship, or grinding at the gym, CBD can help you get to the next level. Its anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and pain-relieving properties help your body stay balanced and energised.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate CBD into your exercise routine:

  • Add a few drops of CBD oil to your protein shake, smoothie, or anything else you can think of.
  • Upgrade your regular supplement routine with some CBD capsules.
  • For a one-stop option, try these CBD multivitamins.
  • Apply a topical CBD salve to soothe sore muscles and joints.
  • Use a high-percentage CBD option as a sleep aid after your active daytime routine.

Now go score that goal, land that jump, beat your personal best, and, of course, get that runner’s high.

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