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11 Benefits of CBD for Athletes

Not all of us are professional athletes, but athletes nonetheless. CBD for athletes can have some fantastic benefits for the active body. It could help your muscles with performance and recovery, keep your mind sharp and relaxed, and promote overall wellness. We are going to cover 11 reasons why professional athletes like Megan Rapione, Nate Diaz, and Rob Gronkowski use CBD and why all active individuals should consider using CBD products.

CBD for athletes
CBD for Athletes by Thrive Flower

Benefits of CBD for Athletes

CBD has been gaining attention in many organized sports and even the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has removed CBD from the banned substance list. Here are the reasons CBD for athletes is used in professional sports and how CBD can be beneficial to anyone who is active in their daily lives.

The Different Ways CBD for Athletes May Help:

CBD for Muscle Relaxation

Stretching is of the utmost importance before and after physical activity to maintain healthy muscles. CBD has been shown to help relax muscles and decrease the spasticity that could make stretching more difficult or less effective.1 Unlike muscle relaxing medication, CBD does not produce any side effects associated with muscle relaxers. All-natural CBD products may be just what you need to maximize the efficiency of your pre and post-workout stretching routines.

CBD for Inflammation

Nate Diaz CBD user
Nate Diaz from CBS Sports

Fighting inflammation is one of the main reasons people use CBD and the science backs it up. Inflammation can occur in your muscles or joints when the workout or physical activity was extra strenuous. Too much inflammation can delay muscle recovery, prolonge pain, and keep you from performing at your best.

CBD has been shown to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent.2 By slowing production of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines and increasing production of anti-inflammatory molecules called T-regulatory cells, CBD can help your body reduce inflammation. Professional MMA fighter, Nate Diaz, made headlines when he smoked a CBD Vape Pen following a fight with Connor McGregor. He later stated that the CBD for athletes helps with the inflammation he gets from fighting.

CBD for Pain

When former New England Patriots star and current player for the Super Bowl winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rob Gronkowski, injured himself playing not football, but soccer during a backyard match, he found CBD to be a saving grace.3 Using a CBD Pain Relief cream to alleviate the pain he felt from his black and blue toes, ‘Gronk’ was able to “find the relief [he] was looking for”.4 

CBD can help with pain by either dealing with the source or modulating how pain is expressed and felt within your body. Much of the pain felt by active individuals is a result of inflammation. As we talked about above, CBD works with the body to slow the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and increases production of anti-inflammatory molecules, therefore fighting the cause of pain.

CBD can also help with how we perceive pain. By inhibiting the metabolic enzymes, FAAH and MAGL, CBD allows the body to build up cannabinoids that naturally occur within your body (endocannabinoid), AEA and 2-AG. Studies have shown that “inactivation of FAAH/MAGL resulting in the elevation of endocannabinoid (AEA/2-AG) levels . . . show[s] promise for suppressing pain”.5 Seems like Gronk is onto something that we can all benefit from. 

CBD for Muscle Recovery

Rob Gronkowski CBD user
Rob Gronkowski from NY Post

Gronkowski uses CBD for more than the pain management benefits. After years of professional football, Gronk’s body needed time to recover. When he stepped away from football in 2019, CBD “played a big role” in his recovery. Muscle soreness can be attributed mild-inflammation. We have already discussed how CBD can be a potent anti-inflammatory agent. Additionally, studies have shown higher doses of CBD to improve muscle strength and coordination.6 Using CBD can help your muscles recover from soreness and inflammation more efficiently. 

CBD for Anxiety

Anxiety can occur as you prepare for an upcoming game (professional, adult-league, or otherwise). It can also occur before, during, and after a workout for the average gym goer. Workout anxiety is common and CBD may be able to help. By activating the serotonin receptor in your body (5-HT1A), CBD initiates anti-anxiety effects.7 To maximize benefits, it is suggested to take a CBD dose about 20-30 minutes before working out. This will allow time for the CBD to take full effect.

CBD for Sleep

Megan Rapinoe from Forbes

Taking CBD to sleep is one of the top reasons people use CBD products. Professional Women’s Soccer Player, Women’s World Cup Winner, and Olympic Gold medalist, Megan Rapione has found the benefits of CBD for athletes and specifically points to sleep as a key benefit for her wellness. Getting a “better night's sleep” and “relax[ing] a little bit easier” are key to Megan’s performance on the field. It is not just soccer superstars who can experience CBD’s sleep benefits. In a large case study, 67% of participants experienced sleep improvement during the first month of CBD use.8

CBD to Enhance Blood Flow

When we go to the doctor, they always take a blood pressure reading. Blood pressure is what makes blood flow to our brain, muscles, and all parts of the body. Without a healthy blood pressure, we cannot perform at our best. CBD has been shown to be able to restore blood flow to certain parts of the body if blood pressure is not high enough.9 On the other end of the spectrum, if blood pressure is increasing, CBD can help bring it down to a more operational level.10 This relates back to CBD’s anti-anxiety properties. Either way, CBD can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

CBD for Bone Health

You may find this surprising, but CBD can actually promote bone health and help the healing process for any bone injuries (fractures and breaks). The wear and tear put on your bones from physical activities can build up over time. Your body is constantly at work to maintain a healthy bone mass. Brittle bones have an increased risk of fracture.

CBD was shown to “increase bone mass” by interacting with protein and cannabinoid receptors found in bones.11 If you were to experience a fracture, CBD can help you there as well. Studies show CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties to be beneficial for bone recovery. Additionally, CBD can reduce bone loss. These together lead to CBD’s ability to enhance the healing process of bone injuries.12

CBD as a Neuroprotective

Head and brain injuries are always a concern for athletes and athletic persons. Fall down skateboarding, rock climbing, running, or playing a sport can lead to brain injury which can affect your performance and well-being. Luckily, CBD for athletes has your back when it comes to head injuries. We already know CBD has potent anti-inflammatory effects which can be beneficial for any brain swelling.

We also know CBD can help maintain and healthy flow of blood to bodily organs, including your brain, so they may function properly. In addition to those, CBD can also increase the formation of new neurons in your brain. Neurons help you brain function at maximum efficiency.13 By fighting inflammation, enhancing blood flow, and increasing neuron production, CBD can help you bounce back from brain injuries.

CBD for Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy body weight is the goal many of us set out to achieve by working out and staying active. It should be no surprise that peak physical performance occurs at healthy body weights. Studies have shown CBD to increase metabolism rates which could have positive effects on obesity and maintaining a healthy weight.14 When it comes to fats, there are good one and there are bad ones. Good ones turn into energy and bad ones into unwanted weight. CBD can help your body store and use the good fats you consume.15 

CBD to Boost the Immune System

To fight disease and injury, your body utilizes the immune system. The immune response could be to fight inflammation, virus, or bacteria. CBD is able to influence your immune system to more efficiently take care of the problem. We talked before about CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties that are achieved by suppressing pro-inflammatory molecules and increasing production of anti-inflammatory ones. Well this is an example of how CBD can modulate the immune response.16 The research into how CBD may be able to help fight off viruses is lacking, but it has been shown to be effective in some cases.17 

Where to Find Quality CBD Products

Finding the best CBD product for you is easier than you think. Searching for popular local CBD brands is a great way to get to know where your CBD comes from. Lab reports should be easily available for the public to view. The lab reports should be up-to-date and show that the levels of CBD are at least the same as advertised. It is also important to check that the levels of Δ9-THC are less than the legal limit of 0.3%. If you have any specific questions about which product is right for you, a company representative should be readily available with accurate information.

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The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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