CBD and Fitness: Enhancing Performance and Recovery Naturally
Today, we find news articles, studies and even podcast episodes that talk about the potential benefits of cannabis (especially CBD) in our lives, with some even suggesting that the plant may be capable of helping cancer patients through chemotherapy – in fact, check out our marketing director, Stephanie Hastings’s post on the topic, Cannabis and Breast Cancer!
But did you know that cannabis can also help with fitness? That’s right! Now that international sports organization The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances back in 2017, athletes and fitness enthusiasts are finally using their platforms to promote CBD’s benefits, describing the plant as physically and mentally life-changing!
But what does the research say?
Scientific analyses – such as this 2021 study from the National Library of Medicine – state that although growing amounts of athletes are starting to use CBD to improve post-workout recovery and athletic performance, the science surrounding the subject still needs more research, and the effects of cannabis can be different from person to person, ranging from obvious effects to no effect at all. There is also an active debate in the health and wellness industry on whether pre-, mid- or post-workout is the best time to take CBD. But again, it depends on the individual’s needs.
So, for now, all we know is that the plant has potential to help athletes in achieving their fitness and training goals. So, let’s dive into what that potential is, some famous athletes who use and promote CBD for exercise training and injury recovery, and tips on how to responsibly add CBD post-workout.
In another 2021 study from the National Library of Medicine claims that CBD has the ability to reduce post-workout inflammation, which is the soreness that your body typically experiences after intense exercise. Even though post-workout inflammation encourages muscle growth in the body, having sore arms and legs isn’t exactly a fun experience, especially if exercise is going to be part of your everyday routine!
But don’t fret! This is where CBD topicals (products that you rub on the skin) come in. Wellness site CFAH even offers CBD topicals as a post-workout option, recommending items such as cream and balms to gently rub into the aching muscle(s).
If you want faster results in CBD’s post-workout benefits, vapes may be the best option for you, according to women’s health writer and CFAH founder Nina Julia. Julia also states that the CBD smoke might help you get more focused and relaxed as you lift weights or perform cardio. And on canna-wellness website Leafwell, holistic health writer Tina Magrabi even admits that athletes such as Nate Diaz use CBD vape pens to help with pain and inflammation.
Along with muscle recovery, a growing number of athletes are also relying on CBD products for focus and relaxation, making exercise training a much more fun and refreshing experience!
Testimonies by Famous CBD-Loving Athletes
In the 2016 UFC 202 fight, reporters noticed Diaz’s smoking a CBD vape pen during a post-fight press conference. Diaz answered reporters who asked about the vape pen, saying, “It’s CBD. It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and aftter the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”
Rob "Gronk" Gronkowski
Football tight end Gronk is now retired from the NFL after enduring a painful trifecta of pro sports injuries: a broken forearm, back pain and a torn ligament. These days, he is a spokesman for cannabis production company Abacus Health Products. Gronk has been vocal about his own CBD testimony: “During my career, I pushed myself while recovering from nine surgeries and countless injuries. I was in near constant pain and needed to make a change. Once I retired, I looked for better and more natural ways to recover and discovered CBDMEDIC. These products have helped me safely manage pain better than anything else I’ve ever tried.”
At The Hemp & CBD Expo 2020, bodybuilder Kevan was sharing with an interviewer a powerful story about his turbulent experiences with addictive opioids as he tried to go through treatment for a physically and mentally excruciating sports injury back in 2018. According to Kevan, CBD was a natural alternative that both helped his injury and kickstarted his sobriety journey. Let’s see what Kevan had to say:
“At the time, I was still a semi-athlete. I tried to stay in the game, but the addiction to these opioids was killing me slowly. So, I looked at alternatives. I looked at natural alternatives, and that is where I found and discovered CBD. So, I started taking CBD back in 2018. It was January 28 at 11 am! I remember precisely! It was the first time I ever tried it! And after about a week of taking a 1500-mg CBD product, I was able to start reducing the amount of codeine I was taking, which was hugely beneficial for me, psychologically and physically. And it gave me that boost again. So, I started to wean myself off all of these prescription drugs and I’ve now been 18 months clean. And it worked out with CBD.”
Powerful stories, right? We sure think so!
But, we want to remind you that although CBD has obvious potential advantages in helping with post-training symptoms (such as inflammation and pain), it’s not a magic wand. With that in mind, let us give you a few tips before you impulse-buy a bunch of CBD oil.
What to Know Before Buy
Talk to a medical professional first.
Before adding CBD to your exercise routine, consult with a medical professional. As the research says above, CBD works differently depending on the individual. So, because CBD’s effects depend on each individual person, there is no one-size-fits-all dosage of CBD for consumers. Thus, you have two options on how to figure out your ideal CBD intake: (1) Start with a tiny bit of your preferred CBD product and see what happens, or (2) contact a health professional to get an absolute determination of how much CBD you can take for a workout.
Do your research.
Just as you should with any other product that claims to have certain benefits, doing research on the products you’re buying is vital.
Even though CBD can have benefits for some, especially for workout routines, not all CBD products are created equal. In fact, a 2022 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy states that most CBD products aren’t labeled accurately and likely contain more THC than CBD (and unlike CBD, THC is still on the WADA’s banned substances list). This is due to the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t yet regulate the potency of CBD or THC in products. (Click here on our article describing the differences between CBD and THC.)
One thing to look out for is whether or not the cannabis went through third-party testing in a lab before being manufactured into your product as well as a Certification of Analysis (COA) that verifies the product’s legitimacy as a pure CBD product. So, do your homework before you buy! (Check out the COA’s for our third-party tested products here or access the COA’s on each of our product pages.)
Post-workout CBD is a great place to start.
Sure, you can use CBD before you start lifting those weights, and some athletes (including Nate Diaz) do just that. But you might have to think twice before doing so. One downside to pre-workout cannabis use, Leafwell’s Tina Magrabi adds, is that it might be an issue with users who struggle with high initial heart rate and blood pressure. So, post-workout CBD may be your safest bet, especially if you’re new to cannabis and simply want to test out its workout benefits.
Do you have a CBD story you’d like to share? If so, what was the product you used, and what tips do you have for safe use? Leave your answer in the comments below!
(*DISCLAIMER: This post is NOT a substitute for medical advice. To learn more on whether or not cannabis is right for you, consult with a medical professional.)