CBD For Athletes: Should They Take Cannabinoids?

CBD For Athletes: Should They Take Cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids for sports injury is a common method among athletes to alleviate chronic pain. Here’s all you must know about CBD for athletes.

Sports place a lot of stress on our bodies, both positively and negatively. The constant stimulation and increased performance demanded of one’s body produces physical trauma and wear and tear, leading to chronic pain and injuries.

Most athletes find they need to seek pain management to deal with their injuries, which are usually effective and keep them in the game.

The problem with some of these pain management medications is that they put athletes at an increased risk of side effects from long-term use, and in extreme cases, even death.

The solution may be using cannabidiol or CBD as a form of pain management.

Issue With NSAIDs

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen pose more significant risks to one’s health than previously thought in the medical community.

We are also in the middle of an epidemic of opioid addictions that are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year. These horrific statistics are making athletes look for alternatives to manage their physical abuse of their bodies and a way to control their pain.

CBD can deliver pain relief and reduce inflammation and comes without the risks linked to NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs).

However, there is still a lot to learn about if CBD is the better choice for those looking to control chronic pain.

Is CBD Legal?

In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took CBD off the list of prohibited substances. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) did the same.

However, it is essential to note it only removed CBD from the list, not the psychoactive component THC that also comes from marijuana.

There has been a more lenient urinary threshold set for THC and has been raised to lower the risk of an athlete testing positive from using CBD products, some of which may contain traces of THC.

The new limit is set to detect in-competition marijuana use and not if it has been used during the week or days before the athlete competes.

This threshold only pertains to the sports world, and in regard to competitions, it does not relate to legalities outside of the sport.

Basics Of CBD

Cannabinoids exist in our bodies naturally. Scientists have proven what is called endocannabinoid systems within our bodies, and it is responsible for activating neurons.

Within our nervous system, there are two endocannabinoids that are produced in postsynaptic neurons and released into the synapse. The binding action that occurs inhibits the release of certain neurotransmitters.

One example to look at would be in the treatment of epilepsy. CBD can be used to reduce epileptic seizures by reducing the build-up of glutamate.

By taking CBD, it is thought we increase the activity of our body’s endocannabinoid system.

Athletes apply a lot of stress to their bodies, which results in pain and inflammation. The injuries and associated pain are more significant than the body’s endocannabinoid system can handle.

When you supplement your body’s levels by taking exogenous CBD, you strengthen your overloaded system and enable your neurotransmitters to regain control and help maintain your homeostasis.

Benefits Of CBD For Athletes

Here are a few ways in which athletes could benefit from taking CBD products:

1. Alternatives To NSAIDs

Many athletes head to the over-the-counter pain relievers to take away or attempt to control their pain associated with their over-worked muscles, joints, and other body parts.

It is now known that long-term or regular use of NSAIDs increases your risk of stroke or heart attack.

CBD can eliminate or reduce the need for NSAIDs when an athlete suffers from exercise-related pain. CBD generates minimal or zero side effects.

2. Reduce Inflammation

If you suffer from too much inflammation, it can hurt your athletic performance or hinder your recovery from injuries.

While a small amount of swelling is good for athletes to help with your positive training, too much produces adverse effects.

CBD receptors have an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce the cytokine production to dial down the response your immune system sends out to create inflammation, thus reduces inflammation.

3. Improves Sleep

One of your best benefits as an athlete is to get a good night’s sleep. Athletes who consume CBD report they are able to go to sleep with ease and also achieve more restful sleep.

One reason for this is that CBD inhibits the reuptake of adenosine. This action slows down your brain’s activity, helping to calm you and induce sleep.

And since CBD improves your sleep, it indirectly influences your performance, strength, and endurance.

4. Pain Relief

Cannabis is effective for reducing pain, including that which comes from stiff joints and musculoskeletal pain.

This relief comes more from THC than from CBD, but it is still proven that CBD relieves pain effectively for many athletes.

5. Opioid Alternative

Opioids have caused more than 70,000 deaths in the United States during 2017, according to the CDC.

While this drug carries effective pain management, it also carries a significant risk of addiction or overdose death.

Cannabinoids are not as effective as opioids for pain relief, but it is useful for long-term pain management without the risks.

6. Settles Your Stomach

Inflammation of the large and small intestines causes a lot of pain and discomfort. This condition results in a lot of athletes dropping out of races or other competitions.

CBD cannot solve stomach issues resulting from dehydration or overeating, but it can help with inflammation issues that contribute to stomach problems after or during exercise.

How Would An Athlete Use CBD?

CBD products are hitting the markets every week in new and creative forms. They can be found in capsule or pill form and also as an oil.

Some CBD products allow you to inhale it as a vapor, and some have even been infused into sports drinks and a variety of edibles.

CBD products are available as lotions and creams that contain the oil, and even in drop form, you place under your tongue.

How you choose to consume or use the CBD product will determine how quickly you will experience the effects.

Topical creams are said to be faster than edibles as they have to be digested, as do capsules and pills. The fastest-acting method would be placing the drop under your tongue.


There has been no standard set for how much CBD to use, and this could get a bit tricky. These products are not regulated, and usage could be inconsistent.

The easiest way to determine how much CBD you consume is probably through capsule form.

Companies that produce CBD products suggest you start with low dosages and judge your increase according to your body’s reaction or the experience you have with the effects.

While there’s a lot of evidence that CBD helps in anecdotal, there do appear to be benefits to using CBD products over the traditional pain relievers and fewer risks.

CBD is a substance that so far is showing significant progress in being able to improve athletic performance.

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