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CBD For Recovery: How Elite Athletes Use CBD For Recovery

Did you know many pro-athletes are now using CBD for recovery? Whether they use it to reduce soreness after workouts or to help promote sleep, a growing number of elite athletes openly praise cannabidiol.

Did you know many pro-athletes are now using CBD for recovery?

Whether you’re a pro-athlete, a retired athlete, or someone who spends their nights and weekends pushing their physical potential to the max, you’re intimately familiar with the variety of things that can throw off your game.

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), injuries, pain, trouble sleeping, and illness are just a handful of the factors that can get in the way of you and what matters most: being able to recover and perform at your very best. This is why we all spend countless hours learning … How much protein should I get? Should I be intermittent fasting every day? What are the best supplements that I can take to expedite muscle synthesis?

These kinds of questions lead athletes to discover the trendy supplement from hemp that comes from the same plant species as medical marijuana: CBD.

Photo: A muscular shirtless man lifts a large weight outdoors.

In this article, you’ll learn why professional weightlifters and other elite athletes are using CBD for recovery. (Photo: XWERKS)

Early research and plenty of stories around the internet suggest that CBD might be a sort of panacea for athletes. From mood regulation to fighting inflammation, this wonder-molecule is being used by some of the fittest people around in the hopes of supporting healing and optimal performance.

WHAT IS CBD?

CBD (cannabidiol) is a type of phytonutrient (a compound found in plants that supports human health) found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Specifically, it’s one of around 100 cannabinoids in cannabis. These compounds, which include the well-known mind-altering compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), are unique when it comes to how they interact with the bodies of humans and other vertebrates.

Over the last many years, hundreds of studies have been published on cannabinoids, particularly THC and CBD. By interacting with a system in our bodies known as the endocannabinoid system, these phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids that come from plants) can reach cells throughout our bodies, including those in our brains and our immune systems.

Thanks to this interaction, CBD and THC are capable of impacting vertebrate health in many ways. These range from helping with pain and seizures to impacting cognitive function and mood.

Unlike THC, which is the compound that causes you to get high if you smoke weed, CBD is non-psychoactive. This means you can take CBD without feeling “high.”

THE UNIQUE PROPERTIES OF CBD

To understand how CBD might be able to benefit athletes, it’s helpful to have a foundational knowledge as to how CBD works in the body. Studies have found CBD to be: (Sources: 1,2,3,4,5)

  • Anti-inflammation: CBD might be able to reduce inflammation in the body, such as that from chronic inflammatory diseases or injuries.
  • Analgesic: This means that CBD can reduce the sensation of pain.
  • Antioxidant: Free radicals are molecules that can damage our cells, with damage leading to conditions like cancer. Antioxidants reduce free-radical induced harm.
  • Anti-psychotic: This type of compound may be able to help those with mental health conditions.
  • Anxiolytic: CBD has shown potential in reducing the subjective feelings and physiological manifestations of anxiety and stress.
  • Antiseizure: For some types of seizure disorders, CBD can help to reduce the frequency of seizures.
  • Neuroprotective: Neuroprotective compounds protect the health and function of our brains and the resulting cognitive abilities.
  • Blood flow enhancer: CBD may be able to boost blood flow, therefore increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, including to the brain and muscles.

It’s important to understand, however, that most of the properties listed above have been found in preliminary animal studies, not human clinical trials. While these studies provide clues as to what CBD might do in the human body, more studies in humans themselves are needed to confirm if these benefits carry over.

Athletes use CBD for recovery to reduce soreness after workouts, promote deeper sleep, and more. Photo: A man in gray workout clothes takes XWERKS CBD after exercise.

Athletes use CBD for recovery to reduce soreness after workouts, promote deeper sleep, and more. (Photo: XWERKS)

As researchers continue to investigate CBD, we will learn which of these benefits apply to the human body, and exactly what kinds of effects it can have.

WHY ELITE ATHLETES ARE TURNING TO CBD FOR RECOVERY

CBD may help speed recovery

There are many times when our bodies need to recover. The most common is after a game or a hard workout, but we also have to recover physically from injuries like concussions or sprained ankles.

The one thing that our bodies need to do to expedite recovery is to slow down an overactive inflammatory response. This is why we do things like ice injuries, get sports massages, and use compression tape.

Because CBD has demonstrated an ability to combat inflammation, it might be able to help us heal faster. This can be particularly important if you are struggling with DOMS, an injury, or when you have back-to-back games that necessitate rapid recovery.

Additionally, the antioxidant and blood-flow enhancing effects of CBD could help to reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress and deliver oxygen and nutrients to healing muscles.

CBD might reduce pain

If you’re an athlete, you understand the constant battle between performance and pain. Much of the pain that you experience is inflammatory pain, which is pain that occurs from microtears in your muscle or from an injury.

The most common way to treat inflammatory pain are a class of drugs known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). With long-term or excessive use of NSAIDs tied to a variety of health concerns, many athletes do without or try to limit their use.

In animal studies, CBD has demonstrated an ability to reduce inflammatory pain in rats. Because there have been no human clinical trials, it’s up to each of us to determine whether or not CBD helps to relieve pain. You will find many first-hand accounts of people using CBD oil for pain.

CBD may help some people sleep

Getting enough shut-eye is critical when it comes to optimal athletic recovery. It’s during deep sleep that our bodies are capable or diverting resources to allow the healing needed following a vigorous workout.

Anxiety, stress, and sleep disorders like insomnia can hinder sleep. When you’re unable to sleep for any reason, you won’t be able to recover as quickly. Some researchers have hypothesized that CBD might be able to help those with anxiety and sleep disorders sleep better.

A small human study found that CBD helped those with REM sleep behavior disorder, allowing them to sleep better throughout the night. Another study published this year found that CBD helped to reduce anxiety in those in a psychiatric clinic over three months, but the effect on sleep was not as definitive.

Photo: A woman stretches out in bed enjoying a deep, restful sleep.

Though scientific evidence remains inconclusive, many CBD consumers report more restful sleep. This can be key to effective athletic recovery.

Even though there is no conclusive evidence supporting CBD’s role in human sleep, the research so far suggests that CBD doesn’t negatively impact sleep in the healthy population, and that some people might benefit from using CBD for sleep.

CBD might help those with chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Athletic recovery isn’t just about performing well in the next competition. For some, damage that adds up over the years can lead to chronic conditions. This is especially true for retired professional football players, as years of head injuries can take a toll long after they’ve stopped playing football.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a condition caused by repetitive head trauma. The chronic inflammation and neurodegeneration can lead to cognitive difficulties like memory troubles, mood disorders like depression, and eventually, to motor dysfunction similar to that in Parkinson’s disease patients.

In a study that examined the brains of deceases football players, it was discovered that 99% showed signs of CTE. And it’s not only football players, but boxer and those in the military, that are at risk of this disease.

Researchers have found that a combination of THC and CBD can help to treat CTE symptoms, such as psychosis, headache, nausea, and mood difficulties. And some believe that CBD itself might be helpful thanks to its neuroprotective effects.

HOW ELITE ATHLETES USE CBD OIL

Now that you know why CBD might offer benefits for athletic recovery, the question is, how do they use it?

The most common way to take CBD oil is orally by using a CBD oil tincture or a capsule. Oral CBD is particularly beneficial because it allows for distribution throughout your body, allowing a multitude of possible benefits.

This is contrary to topical CBD, which are products like salves and lotions that are applied directly to your skin. While this type of CBD might prove useful for things like an injury or arthritis, using it alongside oral CBD will allow additional effects of CBD for recovery in other areas of your body.

You can also find smokable CBD products like vape pens of hemp flower. These offer the highest bioavailability (meaning that more of the CBD is used by your body), however, its safety and dosage have not been researched as thoroughly as oral CBD.

WHAT ATHLETES ARE USING CBD OIL?

More athletes are coming out of the woodwork, sharing their experiences with their dedicated fan base. Not long ago, CBD was banned by the World Doping Agency, and thus using it could have gotten professional athletes in trouble. This all changed in 2018.

You will now find elite athletes from all arenas who are supporters of CBD. Some have started their own companies, and many are hard at work furthering the legality and understanding of CBD. These include (among many others):

  • Julie Anthony (pro tennis)
  • Tatum Bell (NFL)
  • Brita Schwerm Bolane (pro volleyball)
  • Shannon Briggs (pro boxing)
  • Steve Cantwell (mixed martial arts)
  • Avery Collins (Ultramarathoner)
  • Julian Davidson (pro skater)
  • San Juanita Fetuuaho (Rugby)
  • Greta Gaines (pro snowboarding)
  • Al Harrington (NBA)

As you can see, professional sports players from many backgrounds are coming together to support the use of CBD for elite athletes.

ARE YOU READY TO START USING CBD OIL?

If you would like to try CBD yourself, the first step is finding a high-quality CBD oil product. Look for a product that offers third party lab-results, also known as a certificate of analysis (COA), that show the quantity of CBD and THC as well as other phytonutrients. All CBD products should be clearly labelled, making it easy to find the full list of ingredients and amount of hemp extract in each product.

Next, you will want to decide between full-spectrum hemp oil (FSHO) and CBD isolate. The general rule is that FSHO likely offers the greatest benefits, but CBD isolates are more cost effective. Additionally, you might want to look for a CBD oil products that contains 0% THC if you do undergo any type of drug testing. Be sure to check with the company that does testing to ensure that a 0% THC CBD oil won’t show up as a false positive.

Photo: An athlete holds CBD capsules in their hand.

Oral use of CBD, such as taking CBD capsules, allows for easy and convenient dosing after a workout. (Photo: XWERKS)

Remember, most athletes will try an oral product like a full spectrum oil or hemp extract capsules for optimal effect throughout the body. Try starting with a small amount once or twice per day, and slowly increase your dosage until you find what works best for you.

FINAL THOUGHTS: USING CBD FOR ATHLETIC RECOVERY

With elite athletes standing behind CBD and other cannabis or hemp products for recovery, many weekend warriors are beginning to learn about the potential benefits of this plant compound. CBD might help to speed recovery from exercise-induced stress and injuries, and might help to expedite recovery in other ways as well, such as encouraging restful sleep.

With increased legality, you can now buy CBD oil online or find it at stores throughout many states in the U.S.

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Working Out With CBD: How CBD Supports Muscle Gain & Boosts Stamina

CBD is quickly becoming a vital part of many workout routines. Whatever style of fitness regimen you prefer, muscle development and muscle recovery play key roles in overall health and wellbeing.

Let’s look at why so many leading athletes are working out with CBD.

CBD is quickly becoming a vital part of many workout routines. In capsule or oil form, CBD is an important part of any holistic health and wellness routine. Whether you’re a professional athlete, amateur jogger or busy mom, this beneficial supplement made from hemp can help. Whatever style of fitness regimen you prefer, muscle development and muscle recovery play key roles in overall health and wellbeing.

Since the World Anti-Doping Agency lifted its ban on CBD, many fitness professionals and athletes use CBD as the staple for their high-performance fitness regimens to build muscle and boost stamina. CBD can do a lot of ‘good’ for the human body. That being said, it’s important to use the highest quality CBD from natural hemp oil, from a CBD supplier you can trust. Bargain priced “CBD” products frequently contain very little CBD content by volume. If you’re going to buy CBD oil, be sure it is 100% premium and pure from hemp with less than 0.3% THC content – which will ensure it is legal in all 50 states.

CATABOLIC HORMONES PLAY A KEY ROLE IN BUILDING MUSCLE

Catabolic hormones are those in the body which cause a breakdown of muscle tissue. For athletes and others with the goal of increasing muscle mass and improving muscle tone, reducing the levels of catabolic hormones, such as cortisol, is imperative.

Cortisol is a hormone that reduces protein synthesis and actively prevents tissue growth. Excessive cortisol levels are usually the culprit when those who work out diligently fail to achieve the muscle building results they expected from their rigorous fitness routines.

A woman seen from behind holding a weight on her shoulders. Some top athletes are now working out with CBD. CBD oil can reduce the effects of anxiety and promote more restful sleep, all of which promote a better workout.

Some top athletes are now working out with CBD. CBD oil can reduce the effects of anxiety and promote more restful sleep, all of which promote a better workout.

The key to understanding cortisol’s negative effect on muscle-building is to recognize that cortisol levels fluctuate throughout the day. The hormone is secreted by the adrenal gland. Cortisol levels are usually higher in the morning, decreasing throughout the day, and at their lowest at night. This explains why muscle recovery happens most efficiently while we sleep.

Of course, cortisol does provide some important benefits, or the body wouldn’t produce it. Cortisol is instrumental in the liver, helping to remove toxins from the body. Cortisol has other roles in the immune system regulating blood sugar levels, and enhancing short-term memory. At natural levels, cortisol is quite beneficial and CBD oil can help maintain a healthy cortisol balance.

CBD’s ANTI-CATABOLIC PROPERTIES AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP

From research done on the Endocannabinoid System, we know that CBD oil consumed engages CB2 receptors in the limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain, the control centers of the Endocannabinoid System responsible for regulating sleep and mood. Nearly 25 percent of Americans struggle to achievedeep REM sleep. However, with the support of CBD, regular deep REM sleep can be achieved to augment protein synthesis for building muscle tissue at the most optimum time when growth inhibiting cortisol levels are at a minimum. This is one indirect way CBD helps to manage cortisol levels.

A preliminary study published in September by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research suggests CBD works directly with the Endocannabinoid System to interfere with cortisol secretion as reported by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, where subjects experienced a significant decrease in cortisol levels in their blood. This means that CBD can slow the breakdown of muscle mass and help athletes to build more muscle.

We know about CBD’s calming anti-anxiety and mood-regulating effects when working in natural harmony with our Endocannabinoid Systems. It’s easy to see how CBD’s multiple and very beneficial therapeutic effects, and its direct anti-catabolic action all combine to keep cortisol at the properly balanced levels to benefit our systems.

WHY HIGH-STRESS WORKOUTS AND OTHER STIMULANTS MAY BOOST CORTISOL LEVELS

Increasing levels of the hormone testosterone with intense periods of weight lifting is the well-known mechanism for building muscle mass, but the level of cortisol which also increases during an intense workout has the exact opposite effect.

Cortisol levels rise significantly in response to stress no matter what time of day or what the situation. That’s why the fitness community calls cortisol “the stress hormone.” An intense heavy workout routine is a source of physical stress. That’s in addition to the unavoidable day-to-day environmental stresses everyone experiences.

A woman works out with handheld weights in a gym.

High intensity workouts can actually produce harmful stress hormones in the body. Working out with CBD may counteract some of these negative effects of intense exercise.

When cortisol levels soar in response to extreme workout stress, the high amount of the catabolic hormone can cause high blood pressure, lower bone density, and eat up muscle tissue negating the positive benefits of the workout. In the worst-case scenario, unregulated cortisol can cause the physical condition to nosedive. That’s the exact opposite result of what your fitness regimen is trying to achieve.

This is (unfortunately) similar to the effect that caffeine causes. It has been demonstrated that as little as 2-3 cups of coffee per day can cause cortisol levels to rise. However, CBD oil’s natural stimulating effects provide all the energy-boosting benefits without the jitters while maintaining cortisol at beneficial levels.

Pre- and post-workout CBD oil supplements can balance cortisol levels to let you optimize results from your workout time. But, as always with CBD, there is good news and more good news.

CBD BOOSTS STAMINA AND HELPS YOU ‘FIRE ON ALL CYLINDERS’

Stamina is something that each person desires for their workout or work day.

The most understood feeling of stamina is what we all know as the “runner’s high” that you can get from any long-form workout. For years, endorphins have gotten the credit for maintaining stamina through long, cardio-focused workouts. However, recent research has shown that the endocannabinoid system is the true generator of the legendary “runner’s high.” Findings show that it’s the rush of anandamide, the natural endocannabinoid compound regulated by CBD via the Endocannabinoid System, which deserves the credit for the sudden onset of the euphoric, pain-free, calm sensation.

Now within a CBD-optimized homeostasis where you are “firing on all cylinders,” stamina and energy levels are improved, breathing is well-regulated, and CBD’s anti-inflammatory action keeps muscles cramp-free while balancing dopamine at proper levels to promote smooth movement and balance. Some scientists refer to this homeostasis as “the Goldilocks Zone.” It’s that state in which mind, body, and spirit function together and everything is “just right.”

CBD BOOSTS STAMINA BY REGULATING BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

The last key to building muscle and boosting stamina is maintenance of our blood sugar levels. Contrary to common belief, we can do this through more ways than just a balanced diet.

A runner is crouched on the starting line, ready to race on a track. Using CBD oil can actually boost stamina, which is just one of several benefits of working out with CBD.

Using CBD oil can actually boost stamina, which is just one of several benefits of working out with CBD.

Chronic inflammation has long been established as a cause of insulin resistance resulting in Type 2 diabetes. As reported by Diabetes.co.uk, the immune system, cell growth, sugar metabolism and heart function all also appear to prospectively benefit from CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties.

When blood sugar is regulated, less insulin is present and therefore less fat is stored. When less fat is stored, your body works in an anti-catabolic mode to help produce more muscle.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE WORKING OUT WITH CBD

CBD oil’s anti-catabolic properties are making it the most recommended supplement in fitness regimens where increasing muscle mass is a primary goal. CBD’s additional benefits for runners, yoga enthusiasts, professional athletes and more in the health and wellness world strongly suggests that this is not a fad, but a supplement that is becoming the norm. More and more people are beginning to second-guess western medicine and are looking for a more natural way to help fight disease and pain – and CBD is increasingly the answer.

CBD can be ingested in capsule form, oil form or topically as a cream. CBD creams and salves also have a place in the fitness industry for topical inflammation, pain relief and flexibility – three things that are key to a safe and successful workout. It’s important for each fitness enthusiast to research the different ways to leverage CBD’s benefits and test dosages to see what works best for your body. The future is bright with CBD.

 

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