CBD has gained well-deserved attention in the sports world, nabbing features in major publications like Outside Magazine and Runner’s World. So, naturally, more and more athletes and folks interested in physical fitness, just like yourself, are growing curious about CBD’s potential. This has stoked a conversation about CBD for athletes at all levels of competition. This article explores the major benefits that CBD provides for athletes and anyone interested in staying fit. By the end, you’ll have all the info you need to see why CBD is something that should make its way into your daily routine.
CBD and Your Body
Cannabidiol — or CBD, as you probably know it — is one of over a hundred different cannabinoids naturally produced by the hemp plant. Cannabinoids are unique compounds that can interact with your body through special receptors. Two different types exist, and they’re called CB1 and CB2 receptors. According to research, CB1 receptors are found in high quantities in several brain regions. Still, they are also present in lower amounts throughout the body. CB2 receptors are generally located in immune cells and some neurons.
CBD and other cannabinoids can interact with these receptors because, in many ways, they mimic natural molecules produced by your body called endocannabinoids. Both cannabinoids and endocannabinoids can be broken down by enzymes in your body. This is to dispose of them after they’ve done their job. Isn’t your body amazing? So efficient!
Endocannabinoids, CB1 and CB2 receptors and the enzymes that break down cannabinoids and endocannabinoids work together in a network known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This complex system is relatively new to medical researchers and was first discovered in the early 1990s. So, if you’re not too familiar with it, don’t worry. Many people aren’t!
Given the presence of the ECS’s receptors in your central and peripheral nervous systems and their connection to immune health, you can start to see that CBD, our favorite cannabinoid, has the potential to have many positive effects on your body. Let’s explore the specific benefits of CBD for modern-day athletes and individuals who lead active lifestyles.
4 Major Benefits of CBD for Your Body
Any dedicated athlete will tell you that there is no substitute for discipline, passion and hard work. These, along with traits like resiliency, poise under stress and humility, make up some of the top qualities many successful athletes possess. CBD is not a miracle supplement, and it isn’t a substitute for these attributes. And, no, it won’t turn you into an unbeatable machine. In fact, researchers are still recommending that more work and investigation be done on CBD’s benefits for athlete populations.
However, from the research that currently exists, we’ve found some key benefits that will help you, whether you’re an elite athlete or a person who loves leading an active lifestyle. Let’s explore those now:
BENEFIT 1: Improved Sleep Cycles
According to an article published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, many athletes may need more than the recommended seven to nine hours required by adults. Still, they routinely get around six and a half hours or less. Does this sound familiar to you? What’s interfering with sleep cycles? Rigorous training, travel, excessive screen time and insomnia caused by stress and anxiety, to name a few of the top issues.
And the sleep deficits that are created throughout periods of training have compounding adverse effects on performance. Cognition, psychomotor vigilance, alertness, reaction times, mood and overall athletic ability were improved when sleep hygiene became a priority for athletes studied. If you’re an athlete with sleep issues, CBD may be able to help.
While taking CBD daily won’t force you to put your phone away an hour before it’s time to sleep, as some experts recommend, it may help create the perfect internal vibe for proper sleep. In a small case study of 72 adults, it was found that CBD increased sleep scores in nearly 67 percent of patients, reducing the time it took to fall asleep as well as periods of wakefulness. This was possible because of the role played by the ECS in regulating sleep.
Further investigation has been recommended, but these sleep-related benefits may be partly because of the presence of CB1 receptors in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a small, peanut-sized structure deep inside your brain containing groups of nerve cells that act as control centers affecting sleep, among other things. And CB1 receptors, an essential part of your ECS, have been found in the hypothalamus by researchers. Regardless of the exact specifics, if you’re getting better sleep, you can trust that your athletic performance will improve.
BENEFIT 2: Better Digestive and Gut Health
It’s been noted by several experts in the field of nutrition and athletic performance that you can’t out-train a bad diet. When you fuel your body correctly, you give it the nutrients and other resources it needs to deliver the performance you demand — and also what it needs to then repair itself afterward.
But simply eating the right foods and hydrating well doesn’t guarantee that everything will be digested and absorbed into your system. For this to take place, you need top-notch gut health.
When experts discuss gut health, they’re referring to your microbiota. This is the community of microorganisms that live in your gastrointestinal tract. And, believe it or not, there are about 100 trillion micro-organisms in there. That’s a lot of zeroes! But, together, they have an impact on immune, metabolic and neurobehavioral function.
Eating a high-quality diet is important for optimal gut health, which will affect your body’s overall fitness. However, sometimes our bodies need a helping hand, and this is where the regular use of CBD may have a positive impact.
The ECS has been studied for its ability to affect gastrointestinal processes by activating CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. And CBD, specifically, has been investigated for its use as a therapeutic strategy to treat inflammatory bowel diseases, which will allow beneficial gut microbiota to flourish and benefit overall homeostasis. The happier your gut is, the better your digestion is and, ultimately, the better your performance will be.
BENEFIT 3: Lowered Stress and Anxiety
What is stress, exactly? It’s when your body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, otherwise known as stress hormones. This happens due to physical, mental or emotional pressure. Any athlete who has competed professionally, in the amateur arena or even just for themselves has felt that physical, mental and emotional pressure. Why? Because we invite it on ourselves! It’s part of the game!
Even if you don’t consider yourself an athlete but take your personal training and fitness seriously, you’ll have felt these. Lift more, run farther, do better! The problem comes for many when the stress develops into anxiety and remains a constant with no relief.
Ignoring stress and anxiety puts you at an increased risk for developing various disorders and health problems in the long run. And, as an athlete or someone who leads an active lifestyle, that’s not something you can afford to let happen. So, as much as you prioritize your physical well-being, your mental and emotional health also must be tip-top if you want to remain competitive.
The stress and anxiety-relieving effects of CBD have been noted by many who take it, including many Soul CBD customers. And, so far, the research in this area also points to favorable results. For example, CBD has been investigated and shows considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, according to a review published in the journal Neurotherapeutics. And in a poll conducted by Gallup, 20 percent of Americans who take CBD do so to help their anxiety. Another 5 percent take CBD for lowering stress.When properly dealt with, stress and anxiety won’t be a barrier to better performance.
BENEFIT 4: Reduce Pain and Inflammation
The sources of pain and inflammation for athletes or those who train hard is a long and seemingly never-ending list, though it’s to be expected with the physical and mental exertion that comes with training and competing.
There are various ways to tackle these issues, including a proper diet, adequate hydration and quality recovery. This involves lowering your stress, which we’ve talked about. It also consists of having a high-functioning digestive system, which we’ve also talked about. And, yes, of course, sleep is in there too. And, yes, we mentioned that as well.
Addressing lingering pain and inflammation in your body is essential if you want to continue performing or competing at the levels you demand of yourself. And in this area, CBD can be beneficial. The antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol may provide protection against free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and mitigate pain caused by inflammation in the body.
Additionally, using CBD for muscle pain is something you can do super easily with topical solutions like rapid relief CBD creams. These are especially great for folks looking to get fast and localized help for aching muscles or sore joints. We all know some pain is simply part of the game, but why suffer through more than you have to?
Status of CBD in Sports
You may be thinking, “Wait a second. CBD comes from the cannabis plant. How legal is it? And is it even allowed in sports?” Well, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp and its derivatives, including CBD, have been made legal across the country. Additionally, CBD is permitted by both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency because it is not psychoactive or directly performance-enhancing. But keep reading because there are some rules you should know about.
The only compound from hemp plants that is allowed is CBD. Every other compound is still banned. That means that you have to be sure that your CBD doesn’t contain any other “tagalong” compounds from the hemp plant. It has to be 100% pure CBD. The only way to know that you’re getting pure CBD is to use products that contain CBD isolate, not full spectrum or broad spectrum CBD. This is because both full and broad spectrum CBD will contain other cannabinoids and terpenes that you’re not allowed to have in your system if you’re a competitive athlete. Furthermore, full spectrum CBD products will contain up to 0.3% THC, which you definitely don’t want for your purposes.
For these reasons, you should only buy CBD products from companies that provide third-party lab test results. These are needed to prove that their product does not contain THC or other compounds that you’ll want to avoid. These tests are also crucial for ensuring your CBD is a clean product and that you’re not introducing any other nasties into your system like pesticides or heavy metals.
Ways for Athletes to Use CBD
CBD is available in many different forms. CBD drops, which you’ve probably heard of, are the most popular. They come in a variety of great flavors and can be taken sublingually, meaning under the tongue. This allows for fast absorption of the CBD into your system. More portable and convenient options that many athletes are turning to these days include CBD capsules and CBD gummies. These are ingested, so they take a little longer to work, but the ease of taking them more than makes up for it.
There are also topical solutions like CBD creams for localized relief and even CBD bath bombs for those who like a good soak after a big day of training. When you take your CBD will depend on what you’re using it for and its effects on your system, which vary from individual to individual.
Some prefer to take it during their morning routine to give them the boost they need, alongside or even in their coffee, for example. Others enjoy a capsule or gummy around lunchtime to decrease the day’s stress levels. And some like it in the evening or before bed, to put them in that wind-down mode and ensure better sleep.
How much CBD to take will vary as well. Serving sizes are influenced by various factors, including metabolism, fitness level, and how consistently you’re using CBD products. If you’re new, starting with a smaller serving size and gradually increasing it is recommended.
Athletes Who Use CBD
One of the reasons that CBD has become such a hot topic in the sports world is that several pro athletes and retired athletes have started vocally advocating for CBD use. It might even be why you’re here reading this article right now!
Especially for sports where injuries are common, like contact sports, CBD has become a source of relief for athletes who were tired of enduring the pain. Men’s Health recently profiled several prominent advocates of CBD for pro athletes. Their list includes Ryan VandenBussche, former NHL player, and David Ahrens, a former NFL linebacker.
Other notable athletes who use CBD are MMA fighter Nate Diaz and NFL player Derrick Morgan. Diaz uses CBD to combat inflammation in his muscles, while Morgan uses CBD to help a brain condition he sustained after repeated blows to the head. These CBD athletes are blazing a trail for others, just like you, to explore methods outside of prescription pills to manage the impact sports can have on the body.
Soul CBD Was Founded by a Pro Athlete
Mike Lee, one of Soul CBD’s co-founders, is a professional boxer. Without a doubt, he knows about the unique challenges faced by athletes. He also knows how beneficial CBD is as a part of an athlete’s wellness regimen. Mike’s drive as an athlete who wanted to continue competing despite adversity faced in his own life led him to CBD as a solution. And then it pushed him further, co-creating Soul CBD with his sister Angie, so others could benefit in the same way he has. Ultimately, since CBD is a safe, natural supplement with many potential applications, it’s ideal for both professional and just-for-fun athletes alike.