If you’re into sport, it’s likely you’ve experienced an injury or one of those frustrating periods between workouts where you’re sore and tired. Now, there’s a more natural way you can reduce your resting period between intensive workouts as well as encourage healing from injury. The answer is CBD, sourced from industrial hemp. Relatively new to the market and having only been legalised in the UK in 2016, CBD has been making waves across the UK and US. It’s gained legitimacy as a valuable dietary supplement with a growing number of fans from several demographics including the likes of professional athletes.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid derived from industrial hemp. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive but still carries the calming effect as well as a myriad of other benefits. When CBD is derived from hemp rather than the marijuana plant it’s naturally low in THC anyway but in order to be legal for sale in the UK, products must contain less than 0.2% THC.
Naturally anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antibacterial, CBD has been touted as the next wonder drug from nature. Used for a range of ailments and complaints ranging from anxiety, sleep disorders, generalised pain, arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. Since its legalisation back in 2016, the product range available has increased dramatically as well as the number of people using it. One demographic that’s enjoying the benefits of CBD is that of athletes, from the regular gym goer all the way up to boxers, hockey players and sprinters competing in international sporting events.
Why people are using CBD for sports recovery
When you’re physically active you gain strength and endurance by making small tears in the muscle which, when repaired, make the muscles bigger and stronger. Between workouts many people will experience soreness, swelling and muscle cramp. Add to that the possibility of injury, most people will need down time between events and workouts to heal. CBD has started to get integrated into many people’s daily regime to help support recovery after an intense workout. To be sold in the UK CBD products must contain less than 0.2% THC meaning athletes won’t fail drug tests nor will they experience any negative impacts on their motor function or mental agility.
- CBD is naturally anti-inflammatory and can be taken in high doses on a regular basis. Unlike many over the counter tablets, it won’t affect the stomach lining and can be taken pre-emptively before a workout as well as after to reduce aches and pains.
- It’s also helps the body to relax, lowering blood pressure and soothing nerves. This makes CBD an ideal option for before a big match to regain calm and focus.
- CBD can help shorten the resting period between workouts. Naturally anti-inflammatory and analgesic, pain and muscle swelling are reduced so the rest period required between workouts is shorter and less uncomfortable too. It also helps with injury, reducing swelling and supporting the body’s ability to repair itself.
- Antispasmodic effects. For the days you’ve overdone the workout and have twitching muscles through dehydration, strain or injury, CBD can help reduce the shaky feeling.
How does it work?
CBD works by utilising your body’s endocannabinoid system. This system helps regulate things like motor function, mood, pain, inflammation and irritation. While your body has natural cannabinoids, it’s possible you can have lower levels than you need or a system that doesn’t perform quite as well as it should. CBD attaches to receptors spread throughout your body in the same way the cannabinoids in your system would naturally. Supplementing with CBD is like taking a daily vitamin, it adds extra essential components to your system that your body needs to perform at its best.
CBD works in the same way by targeting receptors in your brain, immune system and nervous system. When this happens you can support your body’s ability to recover from injury, reduce pain and swelling from strenuous exercise.
How people are taking it:
There’s a number of ways people take CBD. For sports recovery in particular there are a few methods that are generally preferred over others. Typically for recovery you’ll want a higher dose that acts quickly and for that the best method of administration is oil tinctures or vaping. It’s also common to use topical treatments as well if working on healing an injury.
CBD oil drops (also referred to as oil tinctures) are the most popular means of taking CBD. They’re highly concentrated, easy to use and only need to be taken twice a day. Drops are readily absorbed by your body through the mucus membranes in your mouth, you’ll absorb around 30% – 40% of what you take and it will stay in your system 3 – 6 hours. Taking them is as simple as dripping a few drops under your tongue morning and night and allowing them to sit in your mouth for a minute before swallowing. Typically CBD drops are made with either hemp or MCT coconut oil and the effects can be felt within 30 minutes.
Another popular method of taking CBD is with vaping, either using pre-filled cartridges or CBD e-liquids in a regular vape. While this method may not be the first choice for everyone, inhaling CBD offers a 60% – 70% absorption rate and will be felt within minutes. They stay in your system for less time than drops, typically around 2 hours so may need to be taken more frequently. Like with drops, CBD e-liquids come in a range of strengths and have a wide variety of flavours to choose from too.
Aside from drops and vaping, you may also want to use a topical CBD treatment. Either use on their own or in conjunction with other products for added effect. Topicals offer targeted relief and often come with other ingredients that help with painful joints or muscles. There are things like patches that are designed to be applied to the skin for a slow release as well as gels that also have cooling ingredients to soothe sore spots. They can be used as and when necessary without needing to measure a dose.
Whether you’re a casual weekend workout kind of person or are in the gym five days a week with sports on the side, CBD is a supplement worth considering. With an increase in popularity, CBD is now much more accessible than it used to be. There are a number of specialist UK CBD stores you can visit on the high street and online who can give you a personal consultation relating to your needs. If you take a lot of over the counter anti-inflammatories or are recovering from an injury it may be worth speaking to your GP to discuss whether CBD can fit into your lifestyle.