The Effects Of CBD On Sports Recovery
There’s no question that CBD has taken the supplement world by storm. Indeed, all you have to do is take a look at the latest products hitting the market to see the impact CBD is having. In fact, CBD is being marketed as capsules and gummies. Not to mention, there’s unflavored powders that can be mixed in anything you want to drink during the day. Additionally, there’s creams that come in single use sizes all the way up to full jar sizes. As a matter of fact, CBD is one of the hottest products in the industry.
BENEFITS OF CBD
With CBD accessible in so many forms, there’s really no excuse for anyone not to try it. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of CBD. Right off the bat it’s important to note that CBD will not get you high. Indeed, this isn’t some new replacement for a joint. So, what are the benefits?
First of all, it should be understood that there’s already considerable research that supports the claims of CBD and new studies are seemingly being consistently released. (1) In light of all of the available research, CBD has been medically recognized to help reduce pain, and ease inflammation. In addition, CBD helps promote clarity, improve sleep quality, and promote a sense of calmness that can help users deal with stress as well as anxiety. (2)
One particular area of interest is the effects of CBD in sports, specifically sports recovery. Anyone that knows me knows how much I believe in recovery. Whether it’s intense weight training or the sport of your choice, the simple yet often hard to hear truth is that you progress when you recover. Read that last part one more time: you make gains, or progress, when you recover. Oh sure, you stimulate the muscles in the gym and hone your skills in the event of your choice when you specifically train for that event.
However, if you are going to see progress in the weight room, your muscles need to fully recover. Likewise, if you are going to perform at a high level in your sport, you need to be at your best and a huge part of that includes being fully recovered. CBD can help you recover so you can be your best in the gym or in your chosen sport.
HOW CBD WORKS – THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM
With the benefits in mind, let’s take a look at what CBD is and how it works:
CBD is one of numerous active compounds that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Once in the body, CBD exerts its benefits because of how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. For those that may not have heard of this system before, the Endocannabinoid System is a cell-signaling system in the body that consists of two primary receptors and multiple enzymes. Further, these are stimulated by cannabinoids such as CBD. Research suggests that the Endocannabinoid System plays a role in the regulation of several functions that occur in the human body.
The two receptors that help make up the Endocannabinoid System are known as CB (cannabinoid) receptors 1 and 2. These receptors are designed to process endocannabinoids that occur naturally in the body. One of the key times the body produces endocannabinoids is after training sessions. In fact, that euphoric feeling you get after you’ve completed a productive training session is caused by the release of endocannabinoids. This is because exercise is believed to directly stimulate the Endocannabinoid System.
CBD supports recovery by stimulating the Endocannabinoid System even though clinical scientists aren’t sure how because CBD does not “fit” into the CB receptors. Regardless of how, when CBD stimulates the endocannabinoid system, the processes involved with inflammation inside the body are interrupted. The result of this interruption is improved recovery and reduced discomfort from both immediate and delayed muscle soreness. (3,4)
RECOVERY & CBD
It should be well-known that intense training sessions break down muscle fibers and deplete glycogen stores. This makes training a catabolic event. When you train, you’re exposing your muscles to stress, which leads to microscopic damage to muscle fibers. It’s this damage that can lead to soreness and stiffness. When the muscles are damaged, inflammation occurs and needs to be relieved before your muscles can heal and recover. The role of recovery is broad in that it should offset the catabolic effects of training by applying the right nutritional approach. Additionally it needs to allow the body to repair itself so you can come back to the next training session bigger and stronger.
How Does CBD Help Recovery?
You put on your body under extreme, catabolic stress when you train intensely. Therefore, you cause the muscles to break down as well as glycogen levels to be depleted (sometimes severely). As a result of the damage caused by a hard training session, the immune system triggers inflammatory processes that help the body cope with the microscopic damage caused by your training session. One of the keys to the recovery ability of CBD is its role as an anti-inflammatory. Recent studies indicate that as recovery is improved, inflammation decreases. CBD helps lower inflammation because it stimulates the Endocannabinoid System, and one of the functions of this system is the regulation of inflammation. This benefits the athlete in terms of immediate post-training soreness as well as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
The Importance Of Sleep
Additionally, other important aspects of recovery include sleep. In fact, it’s often suggested that athletes get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Nutrition plays a key role here. If you have a slow digesting protein shake with complex carbs before bed, you can help prevent the body from slipping into a catabolic state during the night. This typically happens because the average person goes without eating the entire time they sleep and may not have eaten anything nutritious before bed. Additionally, you want to have a protein shake and perhaps some simple carbs first thing in the morning to put the body in the critical anabolic state.
CBD And Recovery
How does CBD help the process talked about above? By helping you sleep, which it does because the Endocannabinoid System is directly involved in controlling sleep quality. (5)
Of course, nutrition plays a key role to recovery as soon as the workout is over. The post-workout shake makes a lot of sense because you can the immediate benefit of fast digesting protein and carbs. Also, a good intra-workout can help the body stay anabolic. Regardless, there’s no reason not to use a post workout shake within 30 minutes of training.
Ultimately, recovery is the process of allowing the body to rest and repair following a hard training session by taking advantage of as many methods as possible. As discussed, aspects such as reducing inflammation, quality sleep and the right nutrition are keys to proper recovery. In addition, CBD can help optimize the recovery process. (6)
What else can CBD do in terms of sports recovery? Primarily, CBD can help the body heal from injuries. CBD supports this type of healing because of its impact on inflammation. Therefore, it should be no surprise that more and more athletes are using CBD for these purposes.
Considering the benefits that CBD has to offer, the primary question to ask is, is it safe for competitive athletes to use?
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) allows THC-free CBD. However, are you a drug-tested athlete competing at an elite or professional level and coming under the jurisdiction of another governing body? Then you should check with that body before deciding to compete.
As you can see, CBD can have a major impact on the ability of your body to recover. How well you recover determines how well you progress in the sport of your choice. Most athletes want every competitive advantage they can get, so if you aren’t using CBD maybe it’s time you start!
- Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., & Morabito, D. (2017, April). Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349316.
- Witkamp, R., & Meijerink, J. (2014, March). The endocannabinoid system: an emerging key player in inflammation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=The endocannabinoid system: an emerging key player in inflammation.