Is CBD good for athletes?
CBD oil is widely available and growing in popularity. It contains plant compounds called cannabinoids that are capable of interacting with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is present throughout the body and involved with many processes, including appetite control, pain response, sleep patterns and inflammation response. Taking a CBD supplement daily is thought to help support the normal function of the ECS.
While CBD might not be a cure or treatment for any particular condition, it is an accessible and readily available supplement that is well-tolerated by most healthy adults. This is why many athletes are adding it to their daily routine, either in the morning to start their day or before bed at night.
Is CBD for athletes legal?
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is an international and independent agency that harmonises anti-doping policies across all sports and all countries. Each sporting body determines its own rules, but they are all guided by WADA.
In 2017, WADA removed CBD from its prohibited substances list. This means that athletes across almost every sport can now freely use CBD for athletic performance and to help recovery during both training and competitions.
However, while CBD is legal for athletes, THC is still prohibited. This is because THC is classified as a Class B controlled substance in the UK and is on WADA’s list of banned substances.
It’s important to note that some CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, but there are legal limits on how much THC can be in a product in the UK.
The THC level should always be below 0.02%, and this can be confirmed through third-party lab testing, and this information should be available to consumers through a CBD certificate of analysis.
In addition, for athletes concerned about passing drug tests, note that CBD will not show up on a drug test, but THC will. Therefore, provided your CBD product does not contain high levels of THC, there should be no risk to athletes.
In short, CBD is legal for athletes, but THC is not – so check your CBD’s certificate of analysis!
Benefits of CBD for athletes
CBD aids recovery
CBD has been the focus of studies into a potential treatment for pain and inflammation.
Since the ECS is involved with inflammation response, it is thought that it could help support athletic recovery.
Athletes often follow gruelling training plans that can include multiple workouts in a day and very few rest days in a week. By recovering faster, athletes can train with more frequency and intensity without risking injury.
Muscle soreness from intense workouts can also derail a training plan and increase the risk of injury, so athletes will often look for ways to limit soreness.
Common methods include hot and cold therapy, including spending time in a hot tub or taking ice baths. Massage and mobility exercises can also help to relieve aches and pains.
Athletes use CBD oil for sleep
CBD has relaxing effects on the human body which can support athletes in falling and staying asleep.
High-quality sleep is essential for athletes. A good night’s sleep before a competition could make all the difference to the result, and regular, quality sleep is critical to support proper training.
Many of our body’s most vital processes occur while we sleep, including repairing damage and building new tissue. This makes sleep vital to muscle growth, not to mention focus and concentration.
CBD oil supports the body’s natural systems
More than anything, CBD has been found to encourage balance and support the body’s natural processes.
As we mentioned earlier, CBD works in the body by interacting with the ECS. The ECS maintains homeostasis throughout the body and is essential for regulating things like hormones, which can be disrupted by intense activity.
Athletes put a lot of stress on the body and expect it to perform under adverse conditions. In order to perform at their best, it’s important to give the body the right fuel for performance.
Alongside a varied and balanced diet, many athletes take supplements to ensure they are getting the right nutrients they need for performance. CBD is just another supplement to consider that makes this possible.
How to choose the best CBD oil for athletes
The biggest concern for professional athletes looking to add CBD to their routine should always be quality, as this will ensure legal THC levels.
There are three types of CBD products available:
Full-spectrum contains CBD, other beneficial cannabinoids and legal levels of THC.
Broad-spectrum contains CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids but no THC.
Isolate contains just the cannabidiol compounds
For peace of mind, athletes should choose either an isolate or broad-spectrum product. This will minimise the risk of accidentally ingesting THC.
Alongside clear and transparent labelling, CBD sellers should also offer third-party lab testing and a certificate of analysis (COA) for every batch of CBD. This will show the concentration of each cannabinoid in the product, so you can be sure you aren’t taking a product with high levels of THC.
Athletes that use CBD
Given the many benefits of CBD for athletic performance, training and recovery, it is not surprising how many athletes are using the component.
These include some of the world’s most famous players in a range of sports.
US Football player, Megan Rapinoe is an enthusiastic advocate of CBD for athletes. She speaks publicly about CBD being a natural, healthy method of maintaining wellbeing whilst training. She has also spoken about changing the narrative surrounding pain management for professional athletes.
Officially crowned the World’s Strongest Man in 2017, Eddie Hall is one of the most physically powerful men on earth.
Hall is also a regular CBD user and often speaks publicly about its ability to improve physical wellness.
He has also made efforts in the field of CBD awareness raising, helping to educate the public about this 100% natural compound and dispel myths about the link between THC and CBD.
Brooke Ence is one elite CrossFit Athlete who has publicly promoted the benefits of CBD for athletes.
She said that she’s been taking CBD for quite some time and that it has been very valuable for her training and for her life in general.
Perhaps one of the most famous boxers in history, Mike Tyson is very vocal about the benefits of CBD for athletes. He speaks regularly about using CBD for training, as well as before and after fights.
Final thoughts on CBD for athletes
Given the many benefits of CBD for encouraging general wellbeing, it is no surprise that so many athletes are big fans of the compound.
Whether you are one of the world’s most famous players or an amateur athlete, there seems little doubt that CBD could be extremely useful to support performance.
Although the world’s leading authority on drugs and sport, the WADA, has ruled that athletes are free to use CBD, it is always important to check the rules set by your sport’s own governing body, as well as the laws where you live.
Otherwise, you’ll find it worthwhile learning more about how CBD could help you to improve performance, aid with training and assist in recovery to make you a better athlete.