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CBD for Athletes – How it Can Help Muscle Recovery

Studies have shown that CBD has the potential to ease inflammation, reduce muscle spasms and help relieve pain and anxiety. In fact, CBD is believed by many to be one of the best anti-inflammatory supplements available today.

It can allow muscles to heal and get much stronger than traditional supplements. With this in mind, many active athletes are including CBD products in their post-workout routine and recovery program to improve fitness results.

How Does CBD Work for Athletes?

CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to maintain proper functioning of cells and coordinate healing. During athletic workouts, body tissue can become damaged and the endocannabinoid system can get disrupted.

That’s where CBD comes in. The phytocannabinoids in CBD oil mimic some of our natural neurotransmitters in the body. By interacting with our endocannabinoid receptors, CBD can help minimize the immune response that causes inflammation.

CBD Can Reduce Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness and fatigue are caused when muscles rub against each other during workouts or during training sessions. As the muscles rub and move, the tissue begins to swell and damage. Lactic acid can also build up in the muscle tissue. The body will respond to this with inflammation. It is more difficult to heal until the inflammation is reduced. CBD can help reduce the inflammation so the body can start to rebuild stronger and more effective muscle tissue.

Too much inflammation hinders recovery and hurts performance. It is often the cause of muscle fatigue and soreness. There are CB2 receptors in both the brain and periphery, but they are more concentrated in the cells of the immune system. Cannabinoids binding to CB2 receptors may have an anti-inflammatory effect by reducing cytokine (cell messengers) production. In other words, CBD bound to CB2 receptors help to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, the body’s immune system response to hard workouts.

Alternative to NSAIDs

Athletes often turn to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). But these medications may not be as safe as once thought. Long distance runners are often advised to avoid NSAIDs during long training sessions and race events because of an increased risk of renal damage.

Even if your workouts and events are short, frequent use of NSAIDs may increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Many athletes have found the pain relieving effect of CBD can reduce or eliminate their use of NSAIDS for exercise-related pain.

Improve Sleep Quality

Getting more and better sleep is one of the most effective ways an athlete can achieve greater training gains. Athletes who consume CBD report greater ease going to sleep and a more restful night’s sleep. One potential reason for this could be CBD inhibiting the reuptake of adenosine.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) breaks down as your brain burns carbohydrate for energy and adenosine gradually accumulates in the brain. More adenosine binding to neurons inhibits the release of neurotransmitters, slowing down brain activity. This can make you feel more calm and help induce sleep. Your body metabolizes adenosine as you sleep, and some time later, low concentrations of adenosine help you wake up and the process starts again.

By binding to the same receptors that adenosine would bind to, CBD may inhibit adenosine reuptake. This helps it accumulate more quickly and makes you feel sleepy sooner. CBD can also have a potent anti-anxiety effect for some people, which can help them get to sleep and have more restful sleep.

Settle your Gut

Inflammation in the small and large intestines causes a lot of discomfort. Gastrointestinal distress is one of the leading reasons that endurance athletes drop out of races. CBD won’t solve stomach problems from dehydration. But if you have inflammation issues that contribute to gut problems during or after exercise, CBD may be effective in reducing your symptoms. There are CB1 and CB2 receptors in the colon. Colitis symptoms have also been shown to be reduced in mice when CB1 and CB2 receptors were activated.

Is CBD Legal for Athletes?

While all organizations are different, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its 2018 list of prohibited substances. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency followed suit soon after. There is an important caveat: ONLY CBD was removed from the prohibited list. The psychoactive component of marijuana, THC, is still prohibited in competition, as are synthetic cannabinoids.

The specific wording is: “The following cannabinoids are prohibited: Natural cannabinoids, e.g. cannabis, hashish and marijuana; synthetic cannabinoids, e.g. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); and other cannabimimetics.” Be sure to check the laws and regulations in your area and any events you are participating in.

Bottom Line

Many athletes consume sport drinks, protein powders and add nutritional foods into their routine as post-workout supplements. The goal is typically to rehydrate, replenish the body of the energy lost, and to help in muscle recovery. CBD can be more powerful than all these when it comes to fast muscle recovery and reduction of fatigue after rigorous workouts or training.

CBD is now being widely used by athletes who have learned of its potential inflammation-supporting power. Taken orally as a tincture or applied topically as a cream or balm, CBD can be a great addition to anyone’s athletic supplement routine.

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