Cannabidiol, popularly abbreviated as CBD, is a naturally-occurring cannabinoid in cannabis widely marketed for its immense pharmacological applications.
Most medical marijuana doctors prescribe CBD for conditions whose primary symptoms include pain, inflammation, and anxiety. However, emerging research findings indicate that cannabidiol may also help with certain sleep disorders, digestive complications, metabolic disorders, and even cardiovascular problems.
Cannabidiol-infused products are no longer available only in the health and wellness industry due to their immense health benefits. These products have since been incorporated into several other fields, including sports and fitness. Indeed, a growing list of athletes and professional bodybuilders, both active and retired, openly use and advocate for CBD.
This post delves deeper into the space of cannabidiol in the sports and fitness industry. The article shall highlight the potential health benefits of CBD for athletes, with a special focus on the top ten athletes who use this novelty drug.
What Are CBD Products Available to Athletes?
Cannabidiol-infused products come in various formulations. Popular ones include;
- Smokables, such as dried cannabis buds
- Vapes, such as CBD-infused e-liquids, concentrates, and dry herbs
- CBD oral tinctures meant for sublingual administration
- Encapsulated CBD products
- Edibles, including CBD-infused gummies, candies, chocolates, and beverage drinks
- Topicals, including CBD-enriched ointments, balms, and ointments
The long list of CBD-infused formulations makes it easy for athletes to choose products that suit their needs. Choosing one product over the other primarily depends on the desired effects.
For instance, smokables, vapes, and oral tinctures are famous for faster onset times. However, the effects of smoking, vaping or consuming CBD sublingually usually wear off in a couple of hours.
On the other hand, edibles and encapsulated products take considerably longer to kick in. But once they do, their effects can last in the body for days.
Besides the above formulations, cannabidiol-based products may also be classified depending on the nature of the other cannabinoids in the compound. Note that CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid occurring in cannabis. The plant produces several other cannabinoids, including the psychoactive compound – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
In terms of cannabinoid composition, CBD products can fall into three broad categories. They include isolates, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD.
CBD isolates contain cannabidiol as the only cannabinoid. These products tend to be highly concentrated with CBD and are ideal for athletes only interested in the benefits of this compound.
Broad-spectrum products contain CBD and several other non-psychoactive compounds. Such products generally appeal to athletes who oppose marijuana’s mind-altering effects.
Lastly, full-spectrum CBD contains CBD and several other cannabinoids, including psychoactive compounds like THC. You can learn more about delta 10 flower and other THC-containing CBD products allow athletes to synergize the health benefits of various cannabinoids while also getting “high” in the process.
What Are The Benefits Of CBD For Athletes?
CBD May Treat Pain
Pain is an inseparable part of an athlete’s lifestyle. Athletes can suffer pain from strenuous workouts or while engaging in energy-intensive sports.
Luckily, pain also happens to be the primary medical condition that cannabidiol can treat. CBD treats pain by impacting the pain-signaling receptors in the endocannabinoid system, such as the vanilloid receptor.
Studies have also found that cannabidiol might boost anandamide signaling. Anandamide is a popular endocannabinoid widely cited for its instrumental role in pain mediation. CBD enhances anandamide signaling by inhibiting enzymes that degrade this endocannabinoid, such as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).
CBD May Relieve Inflammation
Engaging in energy-intensive workouts or sports only triggers muscle and joint pain. It can also cause inflammation.
Just like pain, inflammation can cause serious workouts downtimes. Worse yet, it can put you out of a crucial match.
Smart athletes have already discovered cannabidiol’s powerful anti-inflammatory properties. CBD relieves inflammation by inhibiting the expression of cytokines and chemokines, two proteins known to aid the body’s inflammatory messenger activity.
CBD May Alleviate DOMS
Delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) is marked by excruciating muscle pain and soreness following periods of rigorous physical activity.
Since CBD contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s easy to see why the compound can alleviate DOMS.
CBD May Improve Concentration
High mental focus is an asset when working out or playing in a high-stakes match. However, concentration lapses aren’t uncommon among athletes.
Anxiety is the main cause of reduced mental focus. Fortunately, CBD boasts incredible anxiolytic properties, making it a potential remedy for stress and anxiety.
Studies have shown that CBD can inhibit stress hormones like cortisol. The compound may also improve the signaling of serotonin, the primary happiness hormone. CBD can help athletes focus better on the task or match at hand by relieving anxiety.
CBD May Boost Blood Circulation
Efficient blood circulation helps sustain the supply of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. This is particularly helpful for athletes, where a slight oxygen and nutrient deprivation could trigger disastrous consequences.
CBD is a vasodilator. When consumed, the compound enters the body and expands constricted arteries. This consequently helps improve blood circulation.
CBD May Aid Sleep
High-quality sleep before a competition can make a huge difference in an athlete’s performance. Sleep also supports muscle recovery and helps rebuild new tissues.
Cannabidiol can improve sleep quality in various ways. Most notably, the compound reduces the duration of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
CBD may also treat several causes of inadequate sleep. Examples include pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
10 Athletes Who Take CBD
Paul Pierce is widely considered one of the most accomplished athletes in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Affectionately known as The Truth (a name bestowed on him by fellow legendary basketball player Shaquille O’Neal), Pierce is famed for his aggressive high-jump shots and sheer tenacity on the court. But what many of his fans didn’t know is that Pierce’s electric performance was mainly attributable to cannabidiol.
Pierce has admitted in multiple interviews that he used CBD during his active days. The ten times NBA All-Star champion launched a CBD venture in 2019 and named it The Truth CBD Remedies. He’s an outspoken advocate for CBD and cannabis legalization.
David Wells is probably best known for winning the World Series Championship twice. But to achieve such an enviable feat, Wells had to contend with numerous injuries.
Wells’ recurrent injuries saw him undergo two elbow surgeries, two knee surgeries, and two back surgeries. Fortunately, he discovered a secret to faster muscle recovery – cannabidiol.
Since retiring from professional baseball in 2007, David Wells has been a major advocate for CBD products. And although he no longer suffers serious injuries, Wells has fully integrated CBD into his health and wellness routine. His support for cannabidiol is especially crucial when the MLB is seriously reconsidering its approach to CBD and cannabis in general.
Snowboarding comes with a myriad of challenges. Most notably, the anxiety of braving the cold as you navigate through unpredictable snowflakes. These might be part of why Ross Rebagliati and many other snow sports enthusiasts turned to CBD.
Rebagliati is a proud user and advocates for CBD products and medical cannabis in general. The 1998 Winter Olympics gold medalist recommends CBD for both athletes and non-athletes. He believes that CBD can offer the most health and wellness benefits compared to any herbal extract.
And like many legendary sportsmen, Rebagliati has since launched his medical marijuana venture.
Kerri Walsh Jennings
Sport: Beach Volleyball
Kerri Walsh Jennings is human dynamite on the sand. Jennings has won three Olympic gold medals in beach volleyball. In 2016, she had bagged 133 victories and earned $2,542,635 in direct winnings. That was enough to make her the beach volleyball player with the most victories and monetary winnings.
Nicknamed ‘Six Feet of Sunshine,’ Kerri Jennings joins the long list of athletes who use and advocate for cannabidiol.
Jennings’s relationship with CBD came to the fore when she signed an endorsement deal with CBDMD. But as it turned out, that was just the beginning of her love affair with CBD and medical marijuana. In her interviews, the sensational volleyballer doesn’t hesitate to heap praises on cannabidiol. She has cited CBD for her overall wellbeing, particularly lauding the compound for its ability to relieve pain and improve her sleep.
George Kruis is a renowned rugby player with over a decade of experience. Kruis spent the majority of his professional rugby career playing for the Saracens and as a resourceful member of the England Performance Squad. He has also enjoyed a fairly successful stint at the Japanese club Panasonic Wild Knights.
Like many rugby players, Kruis’ suffered numerous injuries on the pitch. Most of these injuries saw him miss crucial matches.
But things took a turn for the better when he was introduced to CBD by his then-Saracens teammate Dominic Day. Kruis has never looked back since then.
Sport: Mixed Martial Arts
It’s almost impossible to mention the Ultimate Fighter Championship without referring to respectable fighters like Nate Diaz.
Diaz has spent over 15 years smashing numerous faces inside the octagon and winning prestigious titles in between. He’s most noted for winning the Ultimate Fighter 5. He has also bagged the Fight of the Night awards multiple times.
Diaz made headlines in a 2016 press conference after a bout with Conor McGregor when he was seen blowing huge clouds from his vape pen. It soon emerged that the UFC legend was vaping CBD. Diaz has proudly endorsed cannabidiol in many of his interviews since then.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
James Haskell is another legendary rugby player on this list who uses and publicly advocates for cannabidiol-infused products. After his rugby retirement, Haskell signed up with the MMA outfit Bellator and has been a dedicated trainer since.
Haskell is also a renowned social media influencer. He and his wife Chloe Madeley regularly post fitness- and nutrition-related content on their social media accounts.
They’ve lately gained prominence for their YouTube videos highlighting the benefits of CBD. The duo confesses to taking CBD supplements right before hitting the gym in the videos.
Sport: American Football
Rob Gronkowski is undoubtedly one of the New England Patriots’ most talented players of all time. He’s a huge part of the reason the Patriots have dominated the National Football League (NFL) for years.
Nicknamed Gronk, Gronkowski stands out for his massive physique, huge personality, and deep love for the game. Gronk is one of the only few football players to have won prestigious titles after making a comeback from early retirement. He achieved that feat by winning his fourth Super Bowl.
Rob Gronkowski credits part of his athletic prowess to cannabidiol. In 2019, Gronkowski became a medical cannabis investor by partnering with a CBD brand.
Cannabidiol has also garnered considerable fame among CrossFit athletes like Brooke Ence. Ence claims that she has used CBD products to improve her athletic performance. She mainly administers the compound before embarking on her training, saying that it helps to improve her endurance while also relieving pain and inflammation.
Ence also claims to be using CBD to promote her general wellbeing. That only goes to show how the CrossFitter values cannabidiol. And it appears she’s not alone.
Other professional CrossFit athletes who utilize cannabidiol include Noah Ohlsen and Alex Anderson. Both cite tremendous improvement in their athletic performance since they began using CBD.
Riley Cote came across CBD in 2012 after reading the cannabis book Hemp For Health. He would later laud the book for opening his eyes to the hidden benefits of non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Cote began to experiment with CBD to relieve pain and inflammation resulting from hockey fights. And in his words, his experience with this novelty drug has been “nothing but positive.”
Although he has since retired from professional hockey, Cote hasn’t stopped using CBD products. He’s also a co-founder of Athletes for Care, a joint venture through which he established his line of CBD goods.
There’s no doubt that cannabidiol offers numerous benefits to athletes. That explains the growing number of current and retired athletes who use CBD-infused products.
Another thing worth noting is that CBD is no longer classified among the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned substances.
However, remember that CBD laws vary from one country to another. Note that you can only use CBD products for athletic performance or other purposes if the compound is legal in your jurisdiction.