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One of the latest great debates in the CBD and weed is how the natural plant compounds affect body movement and athletes, specifically. Especially as CBD companies pick up more professional athlete endorsements, and as professional leagues like the NFL loosen their rules on using cannabis altogether. While some in the industry cite that CBD and THC may be able to help common athlete ailments for enhanced performance, many don’t believe the hype. So, here we set out to find the answers. How does CBD for sports work? Is CBD for athletic performance a benefit? How does CBD oil for athletes help recovery? Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about CBD and exercise, whether performing professionally, or personally.

Which Are the Effects of Marijuana on Athletes?

Before we get into CBD, let’s talk about marijuana and athletes in general. As an athlete, especially for a living, you have a certain standard of mental and physical wellness to upkeep. Working out, exercising, and performing is just as strenuous on your body, as it is the mind. This may be why so many professional sports players have turned to THC for anxiety and THC for pain, too. But how exactly does weed affect athletes and their performance, positively or negatively? We’ll explore that first.

Does Weed Affect Athletes?

Simply answered, weed affects athletes like it would any other consumer. The difference is that athletes are using weed’s exhilarating, yet mind-balancing effects to their advantage. If you’ve heard of a ‘runner’s high,’ you may be surprised to hear it’s an actual effect that athletes and runners can feel. In fact, the internal functions and compounds that induce this elevated feeling while or after running are actually correlated to the ‘high’ you’d receive from weed.

Research has concluded that increased levels of anandamide are found in people who have just completed exercising or performing athletically. Anandamide is a cannabinoid that’s naturally produced by your body, similar to the cannabinoids you ingest from consuming weed. Other studies that have been reviewed regarding cannabis and athletes cite that cannabis can help manage chronic pain associated with the profession. Beyond that, many athletes and professional sources like magazine Muscle & Fitness note that weed’s health benefits can benefit performance. Including weed effects like –

Is Smoking Weed Bad For Athletes?

Since research is so far limited on cannabis overall, there isn’t quite enough evidence to definitely say if smoking weed is necessarily bad or good for athletes, either. Not to mention, cannabis is a complex plant that affects person to person, differently. Cannabinoids internally interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, meaning several individual factors can affect weed’s benefits from one athlete to another, including body weight, metabolic weight, and tolerance factors.

Is Smoking Weed Bad For Athletes

However, some risks associated with weed consumption may negatively affect an athlete’s ability to perform at top levels. Like inhaling smoke can be an irritant to the lungs, which can reduce your stamina overall. Or, how certain cannabinoid combinations can actually hinder motor function. Regardless, as we learn more about cannabis and how it works, there are now many fine-tuned strains and products that can specifically promote effects ideal for exercise or athletics.

Is the Use of Marijuana in Sport Common?

With that said, the use of marijuana in sports is quite common. Many professional athletes are quite outspoken against restrictions banning the use. Some repeatedly fail required ‘drug’ screenings like NFL Pro Bowl running back Ricky Williams, who, after three failed drug tests, actually ‘retired to smoke weed’ in 2004. As more, and more runners, cyclists, MMA fighters, and other sport-related professionals realize the benefits of weed before, or after a performance, the frequent use of marijuana in sports is steadily increasing.

Just how common, though? Take a look at the list of athletes below, who admittedly consume cannabis for its wide range of benefits for sport.

Why Athletes Use CBD Oil?

CBD oil, on the other hand, is unique in its own beneficial ways. The first being, it contains lesser or zero amounts of THC, which delivers cannabis’ psychoactive effects. Many consumers, including athletes, choose to use CBD oil vs. THC to harness the health benefits of cannabis without too elevated of a high. CBD has many mental and physical effects that can benefit athletes, so let’s learn more about the use of CBD oil and exercise.

How does the use of CBD for affect athletic performance?

CBD is all about recovery. The cannabinoid’s benefits are well-known for improving the body’s feeling of wellness with a variety of its functions. Conversely, athletes put a significant amount of stress onto their body, internally and externally. So, naturally, sports professionals and those with an active lifestyle have caught on to the connection. Certain athletes are even repping’ some of the best CBD vape oil brands on the market today. That’s why we dug deeper into just how CBD affects athletes and runners, specifically.

cbd for athletes

CBD For Athletes

Like we’ve mentioned, athletes accumulate a considerable amount of pain over the years of performing and keeping their bodies physically active. Which is the number one reason most sports professionals are using CBD...chronic pain relief. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency even removed CBD off of its prohibited substances list. With the US Anti-Doping Agency following suit. This action has allowed for greater use of the cannabinoid for those competing professionally. For how CBD affects athletic performance; specifically, it’s not too hard to figure out - feeling less pain overall, improves the ability to perform optimally.

cbd for runners

CBD For Runners

Running is a whole new ‘ball’ game, pun intended. Runners often suffer from knee injuries as a side-effect of their sport and craft. The motion is harsh for the muscles in your legs, and especially the knees and joints. Many studies, like one conducted on rats in 2016, have proven that CBD successfully reduces swelling of the joints and pain. Like the kind associated with running long or short distances.

Athletes Who Use CBD

Over the years of CBD growing in popularity, many athletes who are advocates of use have come out of the woodwork. Some, even endorsing specific brands or starting their own. In fact, just recently, a group of CBD advocating athletes came together to form ‘Athletes for Care.’ The organization offers other athletes resources on CBD, funds further research of the cannabinoid, and participates in other promotion initiatives.

To give you an idea of just how popular CBD is amongst athletes, we’ve compiled a list of notable consumers below. Here are some of the most prominent athletes who use CBD and promote the use of the cannabinoid for others.

Benefits of CBD for Athletes

If so many professional athletes joining the CBD movement isn’t enough to see its benefits, no worries – we’ve got more to share. CBD’s top benefits for top performance athletically include –

Using CBD Before Workout: Pros and Cons

While we’ve covered the variety of benefits that CBD can have for athletes overall, and for recovery – what about CBD before workouts? To finish up, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of consuming CBD before exercising to decide best if the positives outweigh the negatives for you, personally, or someone you may know.

Pros of CBD Before Workout

Cons of CBD Before Workout

Like many topics associated with cannabis and CBD, we’re still awaiting further research until we know precisely how cannabinoids affect athletic performance. Including long-term, short-term, pre-workout, and post-workout use. For now, we do have early studies to reference for proof of positive (and some negative) effects. But even more important, a wide range of athletes who have come out to support CBD and THC consumption for recovery, and stimulation, which is enough proof for many who are considering whether or not to use CBD oil or THC, for their workout routines. Because of course – there’s nothing like real-time use to show the efficacy of cannabis as we wait patiently for more conclusive results.

Written by Courtney Trzos

To Courtney, it’s always 420 somewhere. After attending Michigan State University and working as Marketing Manager and Communications Specialist for over 10 years, she took her personal passion for cannabis, professionally. In 2017, Courtney began freelancing as a writer and graphic designer for Cannabis brands across the globe, positively promoting the therapeutic and recreational use of the plant. While helping her partner cultivate crops full-time, and learning more about the industry from a seed-to-sale perspective. In Courtney’s spare time, she likes to make homemade edibles, hang with her two kids and watch anything, true crime-related.

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