As an athlete, pain is often a typical side effect of sports. Whether it is the result of chronic overuse or from an acute injury, the pain just seems to be part of athletics, especially on a professional level.
The problem with pain is that it can not only hinder their training, it can also impede on their game-time performance. Unfortunately, as athletes get older and retire, the pain often lingers. In fact, it's quite common for retired athletes to suffer from chronic pain long after retirement and ultimately for life.
CBD, Alternative to Traditional Painkillers
Athletes have traditionally been prescribed pharmaceutical medications to alleviate pain. NSAIDs and opioids have long been the sources for pain relief, but while they may be effective at masking pain, these medications are not without their side effects. In addition to stomach discomfort, ulcers, and even kidney damage and they can also be highly addictive, which has shown to lead to a rise in opioid related overdoses.
However, more and more athletes are discovering CBD oil benefits as an alternative to such medications — and they're finding that it is just as effective - if not more so than traditional medications and it is completely natural. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD oil has been shown to work wonders in the bodies of athletes and the general public as well.
Because of the increasing number of studies proving the anti-inflammatory and pain-alleviating effects of CBD, this cannabinoid is quickly becoming the substance of choice among athletes, both professional and amateur.
CBD For Pain in Athletes
Instead of taking NSAIDs or ibuprofen - which may be linked to a host of issues - CBD has been shown to be effective at reducing pain. Users can take as much as 1,500mg of CBD per day without experiencing any negative side effects.
Pain and inflammation can keep athletes off the field and slow down their recovery. But there is mounting evidence to show that CBD can reduce such inflammation, lessening the pain that typically comes along with it.
Further, CBD can help speed up recovery among athletes who take it. According to one specific medical article, CBD may be able to stop the body from absorbing anandamide, which is a compound linked to pain regulation.
Anandamide that is present in the blood in elevated levels due to CBD ingestion can lower the severity of pain experienced.
CBD is also known to reduce pain because of its indirect interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body. This system is tasked with regulating responses in the body from various stressors, including pain and inflammation for sore muscles. More specifically, CBD interacts with the receptors of the ECS, which help to reduce the level of pain experienced.
When pain levels are reduced or eliminated altogether, recovery can begin.
Athletes Voice Their Support For CBD
An increasing number of athletes are speaking out about their support for CBD and are admitting to including it as part of their regimen. NFL players Eugene Morgan and Derrick Morgan both hopped on the bandwagon in support of CBD research for both active and retired players.
Not only do these particular NFL players promote the use of CBD as a pain reliever, but they're also voicing their thoughts about how CBD can potentially help protect the brain from a traumatic brain injury that is often suffered by professional football players and other athletes participating in contact sports.
Former NFL defensive end Marvin Washington is also a supporter of CBD use among athletes. Washington never took CBD while active in the NFL, though he now claims to use it after retiring. He's challenged the Controlled Substance Act and the Department of Justice’s position on CBD as well as cannabis as a whole. Washington claims to use CBD on a daily basis to alleviate any pain, soreness, arthritis pain or muscles spasms he feels from playing football and because of the aging process.
Olympic silver medalist (Snowboard) Scotty Lago has voiced his opinion and now has stapled the products into his daily routine. Professional surfers like Mason Ho, Taylor Knox and Makua Rothman have also been some of the leading advocates in the surfing industry and the individual impacts are making waves in the health industry.
Weakening the Stigma Attached to CBD
Because of CBD's link to cannabis, there continues to be a stigma around it. That's why it has long been banned from both professional and amateur athletics. Marijuana is still federally illegal, though many states have legalized it both for recreational and medicinal purposes.
But the argument against cannabis marijuana has little to do with CBD, since the latter has no psychoactive properties and therefore doesn't get users high. As such, CBD has no effect on a person's behavior or an athlete's performance on the field or court.
Yet progress is being made in the world of sport, with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) dropping it from its list of banned substances for competitive athletes.
How Can Athletes Benefit From CBD?
In addition to alleviating pain and inflammation, CBD may also prove to be highly effective at providing a slew of other benefits for athletes, including the following:
- Anti-anxiety effects before participation in sport
- Improved sleep
- Improved mood
- Increased mental clarity
- Brain injury recovery
Whether taken as a capsule, topical cream, tincture, vape, or edible, CBD can be a great supplement for any athlete to include in their daily regimen, especially those who experience pain as a result of their participation in sports, resulting directly from sport trauma.
Kai Pattison, M.S.
Athlete Relations x Physiologist
Kai Pattison was born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Kai graduated with a Master’s degree in clinical physiology from Point Loma Nazarene University. He is very passionate about human physiology and the applications in sport performance, recovery and clinical diagnostics. Kai has specialized in cardiopulmonary diagnostics, exercise induced energy expenditure and metabolism. Kai has also gained extensive research experience at UCSD on Parkinson’s disease. He enjoys educating and informing people on the importance of exercise to reduce risk of multiple inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. His passion for alternative medicine enables him to strive when promoting health and wellness.