Home Page Image.jpg
Home Page.jpg

Quick Look: CBD for Athletes

Here are the best uses of this safe, legal product.

By Scott Douglas

If you haven’t heard about the hemp-derived product CBD, you will soon. Late last year hemp was legalized at the federal level. Industry insiders expect that CBD products, which are now primarily available online or in health food stores, will appear in mainstream outlets like CVS, Walgreens, and Whole Foods by 2020.

 Many athletes have already incorporated CBD into their regimen. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering joining them.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a compound found in great concentration in the cannabis plant hemp. By definition, hemp contains less than .3 percent THC, the ingredient in marijuana that produces a high. CBD is also widely considered safe, and the World Anti-Doping Agency removed it from its list of banned products in 2018. Translation: CBD products will not get you high, nor is using them a violation of sporting rules.

CBD advocates claim many benefits from regular use. For runners and other regular exercisers, the most important potential benefits include more restorative sleep, faster recovery from training, lower inflammation, and less performance anxiety. At this point, these claims haven’t been backed by clinical research. Of course, the same can be said for many products and practices that, over time, athletes find useful.


How Do Athletes Use CBD?

Of the many ways to ingest CBD, the most popular among athletes are:

·      Oil-based tinctures that are placed and held under the tongue before swallowing;

·      Gelcaps;

·      Topical solutions (salves, creams, etc.) applied to the skin; and

·      Powders that are added to drinks or food.

 Most high-quality products are what’s known as “full spectrum,” meaning that they’re made from the whole hemp plant. Advocates say that using the whole hemp plant increases the benefits from CBD, because the plant parts evolved to work together. (The same thinking underlies the idea that it’s better to eat an orange than take a vitamin C pill.) The exception among product types is powders, which to date contain CBD isolate.

 Most people using CBD consume 10 to 50 milligrams per day, either all at once or spread over a few doses. There’s great variability in how much people say they need to feel an effect. Even manufacturers say that most people won’t benefit from more than 100 milligrams a day. A good sign that you’re taking more than you need is grogginess during waking hours.

CBD Buyer’s Checklist

 The best form for you depends on what you’re comfortable with and why you’re taking CBD. For people who sometimes get anxious before a big workout, tinctures or powder mixed into a drink are best, because the CBD will be available sooner.

 Although some athletes take a small amount of CBD before working out for that calming effect, the greatest use in post-workout. That can mean either soon after exercise, in the hope of speeding recovery and lowering inflammation, or in the hour before going to bed, to promote better sleep.

 The best use for topical solutions is to rub a small amount on your chronic sore spots a few times a day. Athletes have reported improvement in long-term cases of plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome, and other persistent injuries within a few weeks of regularly applying a CBD topical.

The market is awash in CBD products. You’ll notice that they can be expensive. Any product worth buying should:

  • Clearly list the amount of CBD, either per serving or total in the package. The latter scenario is more common, such as a 1-ounce bottle of tincture containing 300 milligrams of CBD. In that case, divide the total amount of CBD by the number of servings to get per-serving amount.

  • List all of the ingredients.

  • Display or tell where to find the results of third-party testing of the product. Many products have been found not to contain the claimed amount of CBD. Reputable brands will gladly share the results of independent tests that verify that their products are as advertised.

  • And always check with your physician before using a CBD product to make sure it is ok for you to use.

Scott Douglas is a contributing writer for Runner’s World. He is writing a book on CBD for athletes that will be published this summer.