CBD for Athletes: What You Need to Know

Strained muscles and joint pain can seriously affect how athletes perform. Even though tired, sore muscles can be expected after vigorous exercise, muscle strains aren’t the easiest to work through while exercising. And for athletes whose stakes are high or whose careers depend on their performance, one bad day of pain can negatively impact how they play.

An Alternative to Painkillers

The main dilemma among many athletes with pain is that they don’t want to abuse painkillers, but they can’t let their pain affect their game. This is where the growing interest in CBD rises for athletes. Instead of downing painkillers or rubbing a gallon of icy-hot on their bodies, they can use smaller amounts of CBD topical gels and salves or lower doses of CBD gel caps.  

As more research is conducted on CBD, experts are confirming the anti-inflammatory effects it produces. Studies show that CBD alleviates pain, heightens alertness, and supplies the body with vital nutrients. All of these benefits are particularly helpful to athletes.

How CBD Heals  

So how does CBD alleviate pain? To put it simply, we all have a biological system in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is capable of interacting with its active compounds like THC and CBD. When we ingest CBD products, the CBD acts upon receptors in the body and impacts them indirectly instead of binding to them directly. Specifically, CBD activates TRPV1 receptors that work to control bodily functions such as pain perception, body temperature and inflammation. When CBD stimulates the ECS, it promotes homeostasis within the body, reduces pain sensation and decreases inflammation.

The ECS has a direct impact on athletes’ performance and recovery as it plays a major role in regulating so many of our bodily functions. These functions include energy balance, metabolic processes, immune response, bone mass, pain signaling, insulin sensitivity, sleep behavior, and intestinal motility.

In addition, CBD can alleviate pain through its analgesic effect. When athletes are vigorously exercising frequently, muscle fibers are torn and lactic acid builds up in them. The pain relief provided from CBD can reduce pain and soreness associated with muscular tension and help speed up muscle repair.

What Products Should You Use?

There are a number of products that are best for athletes, but at the end of the day what you should purchase depends on your lifestyle. If you are constantly on-the-go and need quick pain relief, CBD gel caps may be the perfect fit for you. Since they’re pill-shaped and in a compact bottle, they’re great for slipping into your backpack or gym bag.

If you have a little extra time in the day or have a specific time of the day dedicated to resting, a CBD Bath Soak is an excellent way to relax your muscles and ease pain. CBD Bath Soaks are also extremely calming since they consist of all natural salts, hemp extract oil and essential oils. By sprinkling the salt crystals into your bathtub while the warm water is running, you’ll prepare your entire body for full relaxation and pain relief that even lasts several hours after the bath. In addition, the salts contain a large quantity of magnesium, which aids in sleep and pain relief since it helps remove lactic acid from muscle tissue.  

Finally, a CBD topical is a terrific option for anyone experiencing pain, regardless of how much free time they have. These topicals can be sold as gels or salves, and are intended to be rubbed into the areas of your body that are experiencing pain or soreness. In addition pain and inflammation relief, CBD topicals also have many other uses for health care such as subduing itchy bug bites, healing new tattoos, relieving tension headaches, mitigating psoriasis symptoms, hydrating flaky skin, alleviating menstrual cramps and healing cuts, scrapes and bruises.

Celebrity athletes who use CBD

NFL Linebacker Derrick Morgan

CBD is even picking up popularity among many famous athletes. According to The Denver Post, NFL Linebacker Derrick Morgan joined the movement to become the second active NFL player to advocate for CBD research after learning about the effects of CTE and how it helped children with epileptic seizures.

“After researching, finding out more and more about it, I realized this is something guys should know about,” Morgan said. “You don’t have to take it, but you should at least know about it if it’s going to help you protect your brain and protect your body.”

Morgan’s goal by advocating for CBD research and CBD usage in general is to see if the compound is an effective and safer pain reliever than the habit-forming opioids that are often prescribed to NFL players by team physicians.

NFL Defensive End Marvin Washington

Former NFL Defensive End for the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, Marvin Washington is a huge advocate for CBD as he is now the VP of Business Development for global CBD leader, Isodiol International, Inc. According to Forbes, “Washington has been instrumental in sparking early discussions with the NFL Players Association for changes in the sport’s drug policies and also participated in a 2017 lawsuit filing against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which sought to overturn the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug.”

NFL Offensive Tackle Eugene Monroe

Another leading advocate for hemp CBD and its benefits for athletes is former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. Monroe retired from the NFL after playing seven seasons for the Ravens. After retiring, he made it his mission to encourage the NFL to allow its players to use CBD products as a viable option for pain management and alternative to opiods. He cites opioids as overly-present and overly-prescribed and the main reason why he’s a strong supporter of CBD.

MMA Fighter Nate Diaz

Described as “the original trailblazer for CBD oil in sports,” My MMA News notes how Nate Diaz is very open about his CBD use for pain and inflammation after fights. In fact, after his 2016 fight with Conor McGregor, Diaz was vaping CBD oil from a vape pen during his entire post-fight interview. When asked about what he was vaping, Diaz answered that it was CBD and he was using it to reduce pain and inflammation for his cuts and bruises which covered his face. Diaz has also opened up to reporters that he regularly uses CBD oil during training and before and after fights. He speaks extremely highly of the oil, saying “it’ll make your life a better place.”

UFC Fighter Yair “Pantera” Rodriguez

Finally, UFC fighter Yair “Pantera” Rodriguez regularly advocates for CBD Oil, claiming it has helped him speed up his recovery time between training sessions. Rodriguez says that CBD oil has helped him muscle through difficult training sessions and helps him sleep better, which ultimately improves his performance in the ring.

“Will CBD Get Me High?”

CBD will not get you high like the THC found in marijuana does. CBD is non-psychoactive, however it can invoke feelings of calmness and relieve anxiety, leaving you with an overall greater mental state. If you’re worried about drug testing for your sport, it is important to note that there are two different types of CBD sold: a full spectrum CBD and a CBD isolate. The CBD isolate is 100% pure hemp oil with no traces of THC. The benefits of this product are that there is no way that THC can be found in your system, however it’s not as effective as full spectrum CBD. Full spectrum CBD has 0.3% or less of THC in it, which is the legal limit for CBD products. Anything more than this percentage is considered to be marijuana.

If you’re worried about having any trace of THC in your system, no matter how miniscule, it may be comforting for you to know that CBD is widely accepted in the sports industry as of 2017. In September of 2017, the World Anti-Doping Agency took their ban off of CBD. Their decision to no longer prohibit cannabidiol has given thousands of athletes the opportunity to use CBD as a natural alternative. It is always good to ask your higher ups if using full spectrum CBD is okay though, and if not CBD isolate is a great option as well!

The Bottom Line

CBD is a great tool for athletes to have and incorporate into their active lifestyles of training and healing. It has been proven to be an incredibly beneficial supplement for mental and physical health, with athletes’ main use being all-natural recovery aid to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. It is a terrific solution to using painkillers and opiods for pain relief, which are often abused in America.

With less pain and ache, means improved sleep, improved recovery and improved performance, making CBD an ideal supplement for athletes. And according to Genius CBD, “Beyond recovery, CBD serves athletes as a neuroprotective substance in the case of head and spinal cord injuries, as a metabolism booster, and an all-around health and performance enhancer. It may also be able to relieve your symptoms of stress and anxiety from competing on, and off, the field.”If you’re thinking about incorporating CBD into your active lifestyle, Groheline has a wide range of both full spectrum and isolate products including gel caps, gummies, bath soaks, oils, salves and ice gels. Take a look at our products and see which is right for you.