The life of an athlete is not easy!
They have to undergo intense workout sessions for months leading up to the event.
They perform endless hours of physical training that includes everything from heavy weight-lifting to extreme cardio and calisthenics.
During workout regimes, muscle fibers get broken and are quickly repaired by the body with the help of protein and other nutrients. This leads to the multiplication of tissue cells forming more muscle mass.
It is of utmost importance that all these nutrients are available at the time for the body to make use of.
One of the most potent formulae that is now being recognized for its extensive range of beneficial effects is CBD or Cannabidiol.
In the recent times, CBD has been referred to as almost a “miracle drug” that is scientifically proven to help in the treatment of numerous physical as well as mental complications, such as inflammation, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.
To add to this, CBD has also shown to immensely help athletes and fitness enthusiasts in their performance and during athletic recovery.
Simply read on to know all about it!
What is CBD?
CBD or Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring phytocannabinoid of the cannabis plant. It is a structural isomer of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Both of these compounds are obtained from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). So, chemically speaking, both CBD and THC are same in composition. The only thing that distinguishes CBD from THC is their separate atomic arrangements.
THC is the primary psychoactive compound that can have anxiogenic and dissociative impacts if taken in high doses. This is why cannabis and products containing THC are banned in most countries.
But CBD, on the other hand, acts as a mitigating component for THC that helps to curb the unpleasant effects caused by THC when co-administered in the required ratio. Although the legal status of CBD is still in shadows, the FDA has approved of the CBD drug Epidiolex as a treatment for two kinds of childhood epilepsy disorders in the United States.
For further information on CBD and THC check out the below video with cannabis doctor, Dr John Teh:
How does it work?
CBD works by affecting the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that lies within our central nervous system and consists of CB1 and CB2 receptors as well as several enzymes and communicative molecules. This is responsible for regulating the physiological processes of pain sensation, euphoria, mood, memory and many more.
When CBD affects these receptors, it influences these physiological processes by altering the levels of certain chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, etc). As an athlete, you can benefit from such alterations that relax the mind and increases the recovery process of the body.
Here is another video with Dr Teh on the endocannabinoid system if you want to learn more about it:
CBD in Sport
Unlike THC that can increase the cortisol levels in our bloodstream, CBD has been found to help the body adapt to physical and mental strain by reducing the elevated levels of cortisol.
And, reduced levels of cortisol can help you work out harder and longer.
Since CBD possesses pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be used as a post-workout recovery treatment to calm your muscles, helping to repair tissue and fiber damage.
CBD can also help in regulating your appetite that supports the replenishment of nutrients post workout sessions.
The Olympic Committee set a new precedent when they decided to remove CBD from their list of banned substances on January 1, 2018. This was in accordance with the newly implemented regulations of The World Anti-Doping Agency that completely removed CBD off the list, allowing athletes to use it.
The best way for athletes to administer CBD
If you’re looking to get sustained relief from post-workout injuries, your best option would be to take your CBD oil or tincture sublingually. Sublingual administration of CBD is one of the most potent and quickest ways to enjoy all of its benefits. This way, CBD reaches your bloodstream in about 10-15 minutes and begins to have its effects right after.
Although edibles are another great way of taking CBD, they typically take 1-2 hours to kick in and lose a bit of potency as they’re digested.
Whichever way you choose to take CBD, always start with small doses to observe how your body responds to it. Gradually increase the amount thereafter as per your requirement. Remember that your body does not need a massive amount of CBD to activate the ECS.
For more localized relief, you can choose to apply CBD topically which works to reduce pain and inflammation in a more specific area without entering your bloodstream. You can apply this topically whenever you feel the need to, and you should feel some relief with 30 minutes of application.
Overall, ingesting CBD will definitely provide immediate and more long-term effects than applying it topically.
How does CBD help athletes to recover and enhance sports performance?
Professional athletes have to sustain severe sports and workout injuries such as soreness, inflammation, swellings and even bruises. To add to this, one can also feel a degree of exhaustion or nausea at some point during their training.
An athlete’s body is subjected to a high impact of wear and tear, that, if left unattended, may eventually deteriorate into severe and long-term issues.
CBD has shown potential to help speed up the body’s natural recovery time, improve recovery of tissues, nerves, and bones, reduce pain, and minimize any adverse effects on the body after working out.
Its anti-inflammatory properties also help to prevent joint injury, as well as reduce swellings.
CBD may also help to reduce the stress and anxiety levels involved in high-level training and competition, especially the ones that come along with a new workout routine or training for an upcoming event.
A myriad of CBD benefits for athletes
Here are some of the most useful effects of CBD.
1. Decreasing nausea
Heavy exercises and workouts at times cause blood flow to be taken away from the stomach for a very short while, which may cause nausea. Since cannabis is known to have antiemetic properties, CBD helps to reduce this nauseating effect during or after workout regimens.
2. Reducing muscle spasms
Some common forms of injury sustained by an athlete include straining or spraining of a muscle, dehydration, trauma or damage to nerves or the spinal cord. CBD helps to soothe chronic aches and pains and reduce spasms and cramps in the muscles, as Cannabinoids are known to have antispasmodic properties
3. Reducing inflammation
CBD is exceptionally effective in reducing inflammation caused during or after workouts. This may prevent joint injury during physical activity or reduce pains caused by swelling that may hinder your training sessions.
4. Pain management
Cannabis is a known analgesic that helps to alleviate pain both during and after workouts. Many athletes use CBD post workout as a treatment for pain caused by muscle or joint injuries.
5. Boosting appetite
CBD can help to stimulate your appetite without harming the digestive system. Anyone undergoing physical training and workouts should take a higher number of protein and calories than they usually would, to restore energy and the essential nutrients in the body.
6. Improving sleep and helping to rest
CBD is extensively used to cure irregular sleeping patterns or insomnia. It helps to regulate the sleep cycle without causing drowsiness or dizziness. It is mandatory for any athlete or trainer to get the required hours of sleep to perform better and with clarity on the field. Also, muscles recover best during sleep.
7. Protecting the heart, lungs and the brain
CBD is known to possess certain short-term neuroprotective effects that can immensely help in treating sports concussion. It has also shown to offer protection for the heart, lungs and the brain during or after an injury.
CBD has shown immensely promising results in helping trainers and athletes to improve their sports performance. It also facilitates quick and complete recovery after those rigorous workout sessions.
However, it is never advised to go overboard even with something that possesses a lot of benefits. An excess of cannabidiol can still have side effects like dizziness, headaches or diarrhea. Hence, it is imperative for you to consult a physician before introducing CBD into your system and administer just the required amount under all circumstances.