Staying fit can sometimes be hazardous to your health, especially if you are prone to injuries. In a recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 8.6 million sports and recreational-related injuries were reported as an average annual estimate.1 Adding to the problem is the wide use of painkillers prescribed to address these injuries. As Americans continue to recognize the importance of physical activity as part of an overall commitment to healthy living, how can we also ensure that the very act of getting in shape does not undermine our physical fitness goals?
A Natural Solution
CBD supplements have emerged as a safer, non-addictive option to treat sports injuries and they are finding their way into gym bags all over the world. Many users, including an array of pro athletes, report positive experiences using CBD products as a fitness supplement.2 Finding a pain-relief remedy that does more good than harm seems like an obvious solution, but many people still have questions about CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is a naturally occurring compound from the cannabis plant that is non-intoxicating and non-addictive. It has less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The well-known psychoactive effects, or “high,” come directly from THC, but CBD contains only trace amounts that are so small they won’t alter your state of mind or consciousness. CBD has been used for centuries to successfully provide pain relief, address sleep issues, aid skin conditions, like eczema, even sunburn, and bug bites when used topically.3 It is also well known for soothing inflammation, like the kind triggered by common sports injuries.
How does CBD work?
All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which is responsible for helping homeostasis and balance within the body. The body naturally produces cannabinoids to help regulate functions like mood, pain, and sleep, but these can become diminished due to internal imbalances or external stressors. Supplementing the body’s natural cannabinoids with hemp-derived CBD oils and extracts helps bring the body to balance and, in doing so, may optimize whole-body wellness.
CBD pre-workout routine
Preparation for your workout should start with a good night’s rest. While preliminary studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that isolated CBD may improve sleep quality, there are also CBD products that contain melatonin and herbal extracts to promote better sleep. To avoid getting laid up for days—or even weeks—follow “10 tips to prevent injuries when you exercise” published by Harvard Medical School.4 Tips include hydration, for example, as one of the key precautions when you work out.
But “hydration” doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody. The U.S. market for energy drinks is estimated at $14.5 billion, according to Business Wire. Energy drinks and sports drinks are loaded with caffeine and taurine, and both of these chemicals are known to increase dehydration. CBD energy drinks for athletes range from water to more traditional sports drinks that contain sugar and electrolytes. Together these substances can help you fuel your workout and stay hydrated.
CBD post-workout routine
No matter how fit you are, sometimes you just feel it after a workout. Some workouts can leave you sore for days. That’s because, as the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) explains, working out causes microscopic damage to muscle fibers. Those muscles then become inflamed, which triggers the body to respond and repair, causing muscle soreness or stiffness.5
“As a former athlete and someone who still pushes myself a lot, I notice the biggest difference in inflammation and stress after a workout,” says Dr. Jennifer Taylor, a former college ice hockey player, now a licensed naturopathic medical doctor practicing in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Taylor’s interest in health and wellness stemmed from her experiences in athletics and her own health struggles and injuries. Although she helped her college team win their league and playoff championships when she was a freshman, it came at the expense of her health.
“My next two years didn’t go as smoothly as a combination of injuries, poorly managed stress, and an unknown side effect to medication left me in pain, physically weak, chronically sick, and unable to focus.” Fortunately, her college had two excellent nurse practitioners who were open to more natural means of care. The experience led her on a road to recovery and inspired her to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine.
“Adding CBD to my personal workout regimen helps me recover faster and feel better,” Dr. Taylor explained. “It has also become a common part of my patient recommendations and prescriptions for sports-related injuries and chronic pain.”
Is there scientific proof?
A review of 132 original studies published in Frontiers in Neurology (2018) corroborates Dr. Taylor’s experience. According to the study, CBD can indeed reduce inflammation in the body and help improve pain and mobility in patients with multiple sclerosis. “It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective,” the review study’s authors wrote.6
What CBD delivery method is best for pain relief?
CBD is everywhere these days, and in a variety of forms. You can find it in tinctures, oils, capsules, gummies, balms, and cocktails.
- Under the tongue: drops, strips, and sprays
- CBD edibles: gummies, chocolates, and drinks
- Topical CBD: balms, patches, lotions, and roll-ons.
Things to consider before using CBD
It’s always wise to speak with your physician before you begin any new supplement regimen. It’s also important to choose the right CBD maker when shopping for quality products. Many CBD brands claim to use good manufacturing practices (GMP); and it’s the law. But few can prove it. Add the following prompts to your checklist when shopping for CBD products.
- Made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
- Produces Certificates of Analysis for each products’ lot number
- Farmed sustainably with U.S.-grown hemp
- Contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
Elizabeth Roper is an education consultant and lifelong learner. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Chico, California.
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