Cannabidiol, most commonly known and abbreviated as CBD, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid compound found in the cannabis Sativa plant. Since the Farm Bill of 2014, CBD has been making waves throughout the sports and fitness world as a natural alternative supplement and the potential many benefits it can provide.
To understand how CBD can help with sports recovery, we must first look at how the body recovers after sports and physical activity followed by the studies and research on CBD and its effect on these processes.
HOW THE BODY RECOVERS AFTER SPORTSStrenuous physical activities like fitness or sports often cause muscle strain after energy exertion along with a loss of fluid, hormonal changes and more. When the body is at rest is when it best can heal and recover from the stress and strain it endured. This is when recovery begins.
There are multiple factors that sports scientists have identified over the years as contributing and aiding in sports recovery, one of the most primary being sleep. As we sleep our body is able to focus solely on recovery including working to repair damaged muscles, creating new energy stores, and restoring hormonal balance.
In addition to those elements, the body secretes higher amounts of testosterone and other muscle-building hormones while sleeping making proper sleep critical for optimized recovery and performance. At the same time, your body reduces the levels of cortisol which is a contributing factor to catabolism or muscle breakdown.
HOW CBD CAN HELP SPORTS RECOVERYNow that you understand how the body recovers after strenuous physical activity, let’s take a look at CBD and some reported studies and their results.
When ingested, Cannabidiol (CBD) interacts with the body’s internal Endocannabinoid System which consists of cannabinoid receptors in the body. These are both designed to create and process naturally-produced endocannabinoids in the body such as 2-AG and anandamide. Research to date has shown that the ECS helps to regulate a variety of bodily functions and overall homeostasis.
Below are some areas that athletes and active individuals could benefit from recovery with CBD.
1. Reduced InflammationInflammation is the root cause of pain, soreness and most lingering injuries that athletes generally experience. As tiny tears occur in the muscle tissues during exertion, inflammation and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) can occur.
Research to date has found that CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, have potent anti-inflammatory properties and are capable of reducing inflammation from exercise or sports. One example of a study that yielded positive results was a 2017 study on rats that showed CBD was able to reduce inflammation and even prevent pain and nerve damage from developing in arthritic joints.
There have also been several preclinical studies done on CBD showing positive anti-inflammatory effects on various conditions throughout the body. Revivid Sport Athlete and Two-Division UFC Champion Amanda Nunes loves the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD and Revivid Sport products.
2. Improved SleepAs it turns out, CBD can be a big aid when looking to get a good night’s sleep. This is largely because the Endocannabinoid System is involved with sleep moderation and the other factors previously mentioned. A 2016 study conducted by the US National Institute of Health along with Northeastern University researchers concluded that endocannabinoid signaling directly affected sleep stability among rat subjects. This study also found that CBD is capable of improving overall sleep quality helping to improve sleep duration and depth of sleep.
For athletes who may be struggling to get deep sleep after a late night workout or find yourself waking up tired and not rested and recovered for the day ahead, CBD could be the difference factor you need.
3. Nutritional Health & WellnessMany athletes and active individuals consume protein powders or other supplements alongside nutrient-rich food as part of a healthy nutrition plan. The goal of a healthy diet is to provide the body the resources it needs to replenish the lost energy and nutrients, thereby facilitating muscle recovery.
CBD works with these things synergistically to provide nutrition to the body similar to post-workout meals, allowing athletes to recover faster and reduce overall fatigue after strenuous physical activities.
Recent research has linked CBD to the reduction of incidence of diabetes by 56% in diabetic mice as well as several benefits to the heart and circulatory system including lowering high blood pressure. A study of nine healthy men showed that one dose of 600 mg of CBD reduced resting blood pressure when compared to placebo.
4. Pain ReliefFor years athletes have turned to over-the-counter painkillers to manage the pain their bodies endure. These products though often have side-effects including brain fog and more.
A 2016 animal study revealed that after giving CBD to rat subjects that are suffering from arthritis, a significant reduction of pain and inflammation in their affected joints was identified all without any side effects!
5. Anti-Convulsive & Neuroprotective PropertiesApart from the major recovery benefits provided by CBD, it also features some lesser-known benefits. One of the most notable is its ability to ease cramps and muscle spasms, thanks to its anticonvulsant property.
Additionally, CBD contains neuroprotective qualities which are really helpful for those who suffer from brain-related trauma and damage that’s especially prominent in contact sports like Football, MMA, Boxing and Rugby.