If you’re interested in trying CBD, or already a regular user, you’ll almost certainly have seen endorsements from celebrity sports figures, advocating its use as a recovery tool.
- But how is CBD useful to sports?
As a natural health product most commonly associated with stress relief, it might seem to be a holistic wellness item that’s out of sync with the hard-hitting world of professional sports.
However, there are a great many reasons athletes choose to make cannabidiol part of their regular routine. Let’s run through some of the most popular applications, and how high-quality CBD might just be the most powerful secret tool in a competitive sportsperson’s arsenal.
Which Athletes Endorse CBD as a Nutritional Aid?
First up, let’s clarify which well-known athletes have spoken publicly about CBD usage. The team at Adio always strives to quantify and validate the information we share with our users, so you know the facts and science behind the data!
The below athletes have all published social media content or discussed CBD usage in interviews:
- Gabby Douglas. Douglas is an Olympic gymnast and has said that CBD would have helped her remain pain-free throughout her gymnastics career.
- Kerri Walsh Jennings is a professional beach volleyball player and an Olympian. Walsh Jennings uses CBD to improve her sleep and for overall well being.
- Tia Clair Toomey and Mat Fraser; respective men’s and women’s Crossfit Champions (for several successive years!) post regularly about CBD on social media, and use it to ‘help with blood flow and reduce any stiffness’.
- George Kruis and Dominic Day are England international rugby players, and say they use CBD to ‘put our bodies back together’.
- Nate Diaz is a pro-MMA fighter, competing in the UFC. He initiated a change in USADA rules when he was warned about vaping CBD before a fight. CBD is now allowed across all areas of the sport, now known as the ‘Nate Diaz Rule’.
These are a small snapshot of the professional athletes across a vast range of sports that use CBD in their careers.
From muscle aches to better sleep, faster recovery to dealing with injuries, it seems that recommendations for CBD usage in sports as diverse as MMA to gymnastics are growing fast.
Why Do Athletes Use CBD in Sports Recovery?
CBD isn’t a performance-enhancing substance, and therefore won’t make you run faster, hit harder or perform longer. Instead, it is a therapeutic substance that may assist with recovery, relaxation and overall well being.
Here are some of the most commonly reported benefits of using CBD in sports:
- Recovery support. CBD is thought to have natural anti-inflammatory properties, which means injuries or swollen muscles can recover faster.
- Help with pain. This reported benefit works alongside anti-inflammation, by soothing pain experienced due to strenuous activity or injury. Some athletes also believe that CBD increases their pain threshold, hence it being commonly talked about in the worlds of MMA and professional boxing.
- Immune support. Studies continue to verify how CBD may support the immune system. It is reported to help keep our bodies in a state of homeostasis, and therefore reduce our vulnerability to stress and infections.
It is vital to emphasise that CBD is a natural way to relieve symptoms of pain or injury, and support recovery, rather than being a sports-specific supplement.
As a holistic option and an alternative to pain medications, many athletes seek out an organic CBD to complement their nutritional regimes and aid faster recovery and more focused mindset, without any risk of breaching substance use rules or impacting their performance.
Other potential benefits include:
- Improved sleep patterns and support with sleep conditions. Sleep is a crucial part of recovery and healing from performance strain, and so CBD may help athletes sleep better, and for longer, promoting a better natural recovery process.
- Stress relief is one of the most commonly reported benefits of CBD. Athletes may experience stress in many scenarios, such as pressure from the competition, anxiety over an important event, or concerns over injuries that might impede their ability to compete. As a stress relief tool, CBD may be a powerful way to alleviate stresses and anxieties, allowing athletes to focus on the task at hand with a clear mindset.
- Sports competition can cause physical as well as mental stress. CBD is exogenous (a biological compound grown from outside the body) and yet entirely natural, and so is compatible with our natural endocannabinoid systems. It is thought to relieve stress overloads on the body, causing pain and inflammation, and therefore help to maintain a sense of balance.
- Help with digestive health. GI distress is very common in sports, and while CBD cannot resolve stomach upsets relating to dehydration or overheating, it may be useful in reducing inflammation that causes GI distress when taking part in endurance sports.
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Is CBD Legal in Professional Sports?
Next up, let’s explore the legalities of CBD in sports – both amateur and professional. Anti-doping is a severe issue, and failure to meet substance tests can cause irreparable damage to any athlete’s reputation.
Therefore, it’s essential to understand that CBD is not a psychoactive product, has no known addictive properties, and is used not as a medicine, but as a holistic therapy thought to have profound benefits for sportspeople dealing with the rigours of high-level competition.
WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) is the international authority that has responsibility for approving or updating banned substance lists. Those approvals are based on scientific research and studies to identify whether a product violates any competition rules.
The criteria under which any substance can be banned are:
- It is harmful to health.
- It enhances the performance of the athlete.
- It violates the spirit of the sport.
Earlier this year, WADA confirmed that ‘CBD does not violate any of these requirements, as unlike marijuana, the cannabinoid has positive research evidence, and professional athletes have given testimony that it has assisted them as an alternative treatment for inflammation and pain.’
Athletes may not use any other natural or synthetic cannabis-derived product that breaches any of the above conditions – therefore; cannabis, THC and synthetic THC substances remain banned.
Other critical assessments include:
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the removal of cannabis resin from the 1961 UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 2019. It published a Peer Review in 2017, stating that clinical evidence does not support the potential for abuse.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US has approved CBD to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis and specific forms of childhood epilepsy.
Therefore, CBD is now becoming much more widely used in sports fields, as international bodies approve its use as a therapeutic substance.
In terms of amateur sport, in the UK CBD is entirely legal. Adio CBD Oils are 100% organic, pure and produced by a licensed EU grower, with all Cannabis Sativa plants verified as below the 0.2% threshold for trace presence of THC.
Which CBD Products are Ideal for Sports Players and Athletes?
Now we’ve discovered that CBD is legal and safe for sports usage, which athletes recommend it, and why it can help keep you in tip-top condition – how is the best way to take CBD for sports?
Here are the recommendations from the Adio team for finding a CBD product of the highest quality that will support your recovery, and overall well being:
- Only source CBD from a trusted, reliable supplier. Overseas CBD products sold on marketplaces may not comply with UK and EU legislation, and therefore pose a serious risk of breaching WADA rules, even if inadvertently.
- Ensure your CBD is organic. Hemp plants absorb the minerals and compounds in the soil around them, and non-organic CBD may contain heavy metals, pesticides and germicides that can be harmful to health.
- Use a tincture, rather than an edible. CBD is sold in millions of formats, and a tincture (a drop under the tongue) is the fastest absorbency process. It also avoids a breakdown of the potent CBD compound through digestion, or due to a faster metabolism.
- Check out your retailer, and look for third-party lab testing reports. These reports indicate that the CBD is produced from a properly licensed grower. Lab tests show that the product has been tested to verify the quality and concentration of the CBD present in the product.
- Take a look at what extraction process is used – and if one isn’t mentioned steer well clear! Adio only ever uses CO2 extraction, which is a technically advanced process that preserves the CBD compound. Other methods, such as solvent extraction, can damage or destroy the CBD.
Another tip is to understand the difference between pure, broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD!
Pure CBD – such as the refined tinctures Adio produces – contain exceptional quality CBD compounds, with a natural hemp oil carrier.
Broad-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoid compounds, although usually with the THC removed. Full-spectrum CBD does contain all the cannabis compounds, including THC, so it’s best to be cautious about checking the concentration levels.
Adio believes that a tincture is the best possible way to consume CBD as a therapeutic sports aid. Tinctures are absorbed the fastest, have no potential side effects (thought to be found in vaping) and eliminate all the colourants, flavourings and preservatives often found in edibles such as gummies and sports drinks.
We’re not going to argue with testimonials from some of the greatest athletes and Olympians in the world – but would love to hear your experiences of using CBD in sports!
Let us know if you have tried CBD for sports recovery, and whether you found it made a difference?