Athletes are always looking for ways to push their bodies and performance in the best ways possible, and the supplement world is a big part of this. However, one sector that is beginning to grow more and more in terms of both athlete and common use is CBD. However, the nature of CBD and how it ties into marijuana means there’s both a great deal of confusion and concern in some circles on whether it works and whether athletes can safely use it. So, if you’re on the fence about using legal CBD products to support your athletic needs, here’s what to know.
What to Know
As a brief explanation, CBD functions by introducing additional cannabinoids into the system. These chemicals then activate receptors in the body to produce certain positive feelings. From an athlete’s perspective, this can provide support in a variety of ways. As a start, athletes naturally have to deal with pain management, even when not injured, due to the rigors of competition and training. CBD is a natural partner in this regard, inhibiting these feelings by affecting glycine receptors, adenosine receptors, and other types. For example, rubbing a CBD cream on the afflicted area may help relieve pain after a workout so athletes can get back to training faster.
In addition, for full-contact sports, there’s always going to be heavy strain on joints and tendons just by the nature of playing, which can lead to pain and soreness that causes issues on and off the field/court. Commonly, the way that this is tackled is through a combination of physical training and opioids/NSAIDs. However, chronic use of pain medication and prescription drug use has been shown to have a pronounced impact on both mental health and other aspects of an athlete’s life.
CBD has the benefit of being a non-toxic, non-addictive alternative for this. As a result, many hobbyist athletes or generally athletic people can use it just fine to manage their pain. However, it’s not currently approved by many sports authorities, even where it is legal. This means CBD may be at the forefront when it comes to many hot debates in the future. However, the fact that bodies like the International Olympic Committee are backing CBD means that it may be closer to general sports acceptance than we think.
Note that pain management, while the biggest area of focus, isn’t the only way that CBD can help athletes. By the same token, another common issue some athletes have to struggle with through intense physical training is nausea. However, CBD can help with feelings of sickness and general nausea during training. For some athletes who need to consume heavy calorie loads to build muscle, CBD can help stimulate the appetite. Muscle spasms, concussion protection, CBD’s relationship with the body makes it a multipurpose option for health.
Note that CBD is permitted by WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency), all other cannabinoids are prohibited, and athletes are still liable for any substances found in their blood or urine. As a result, it’s important to understand the risks and consideration with using CBD as a competitive athlete.
For example, many CBD products on the market may combine CBD and other cannabinoids, which would be prohibited. Getting a pure extract can be difficult, and many CBD manufacturers want to have other cannabinoids present for perceived health benefits. Another concern is cycling on and off CBD for competitions. For example, cannabinoids can stay in your body well after you’ve stopped using them. So if you use a CBD oil with other cannabinoids outside of competition, some markers may still linger in drug tests.
What makes this difficult for many well-meaning athletes is the fact that some CBD products can be mislabeled. In 2017, the American Medical Association published a study showing that 69 percent of all CBD products covered had different levels of CBD than what they found on the label, in addition, THC, the substance that gives marijuana its psychoactive properties, was found in 21 percent of those products.
Some think that if they can get CBD oil that’s low in THC and other cannabinoids, or if they stop ahead of testing time to try and clear their body, that they will be safe from any violations. However, this is taking an enormous risk. Sometimes, labels can be misleading as to how many cannabinoids you are taking, and adding more variance to it, every athlete metabolizes and excretes chemicals differently.
As a result, when it comes to using CBD as a professional athlete subject to drug testing, you’re using these benefits at your own risk. For private users, though, there’s plenty to make use of.
A final point of concern some people may have is related to the safety of CBD. The good news is that, in general, CBD products like CBD oil softgels, CBD oil capsules, or other offerings are well tolerated, and are unlikely to lead to dependence or abuse. There are two main issues that athletes need to be aware of. First is the fact that CBD can interact with other medications you are taking. This is why it’s always important to talk to a doctor before implementing it into your routine.
The second major point of concern is synthetic cannabinoids. These can have a far more pronounced and unpredictable impact on the brain because some of the compounds inside can create a stronger bind on brain receptors. In addition, all the ingredients on the label may not represent all the ingredients inside the product. This is why sourcing your CBD properly and working with trusted vendors is essential.