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How Athletes Can Benefit From CBD Oil

The quest for peak physical performance and rapid recovery is a defining characteristic of athletes across all disciplines. In this pursuit, an increasing number are turning to cannabidiol (CBD) oil, drawn by its promising potential to aid recovery, reduce pain, and improve overall wellness without the psychoactive effects associated with its cousin compound, THC. This comprehensive guide explores the myriad ways in which CBD oil can be a game-changer for athletes, supported by scientific research, expert opinions, and testimonials from some of the sports world’s most prominent figures.

Understanding CBD Oil

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, distinct from the more famous tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for its lack of intoxicating effects. Extracted from the stalks and seeds of hemp or cannabis, CBD is pressed into oil and is widely used in creams, oils, edibles, and other formulations.

How Does CBD Work?

CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates various functions such as pain, mood, appetite, and inflammation. By modulating the ECS receptors, CBD oil may help maintain balance in these functions, potentially aiding athletic performance and recovery.

Key Benefits of CBD Oil for Athletes

Enhanced Pain Relief

For athletes, managing pain effectively is crucial to training and performance. CBD has been acknowledged for its analgesic properties, with studies suggesting that it can help manage both acute and chronic pain. A 2018 review highlights CBD’s effectiveness in reducing inflammation and pain-related behaviours in animal models without adverse effects, pointing to its potential as a non-addictive substitute for opioids.

Accelerated Recovery from Inflammation

Post-exercise inflammation can lead to muscle soreness and extended recovery periods, hindering training efficiency. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial here. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine supports CBD’s role in suppressing inflammatory responses and neuropathic pain, promoting quicker recovery and readiness for subsequent training sessions.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction

The mental component of sports cannot be underestimated, with stress and anxiety potentially impairing performance. CBD’s potential to exert a calming effect on the nervous system can help athletes manage performance anxiety and stress. According to a 2019 study, CBD has shown promise in reducing anxiety levels in individuals facing stressful situations.

Improved Sleep Quality

Sleep is essential for recovery in athletes, influencing everything from muscle recovery to performance. CBD’s interaction with the ECS may help improve sleep quality by reducing anxiety and pain, which can interfere with restful sleep. This is supported by research demonstrating that CBD can significantly improve sleep markers in individuals with varying health conditions.

Athletes Advocating for CBD

Megan Rapinoe

U.S. Women’s Soccer star and Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe has been a vocal advocate of CBD, using it to help manage pain and recover from games. Her endorsement underscores the growing acceptance of CBD among elite athletes.

Nate Diaz

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Nate Diaz was one of the first in his sport to openly use CBD for recovery purposes, especially after fights. His public use highlights CBD’s benefits in combat sports, where recovery is critical.

Legal Considerations and WADA’s Stance

Since the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of banned substances in 2018, athletes in sanctioned competitions can use CBD products. However, it’s crucial to ensure that these products are isolated from THC, the psychoactive compound still banned in sports.

Choosing the Right CBD Product for Athletic Needs

What to Look For

  • Third-Party Testing: Verification by independent labs ensures that the CBD product contains what it claims and is free of contaminants.
  • Extraction Method: CO2 extraction is considered the gold standard for purity and safety.
  • Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate: Full-spectrum products may offer the benefits of the ‘entourage effect,’ but isolates are free from THC.

Recommended Products

  • CBD Tinctures: Allow for adjustable dosing, suitable for tailoring intake according to training demands.
  • Topicals: Creams and balms can be applied directly to sore muscles or inflammation sites.
  • Capsules: Provide a no-fuss, precise dosage option.

Incorporating CBD Into Your Training Regime

Start with low doses to assess your body’s response and gradually increase until you find the optimal dosage. Monitoring your body’s reaction can help personalise the use of CBD in your athletic training.


As research evolves, CBD’s profile as a potent supplement in sports is only rising, offering athletes a natural alternative for pain management, recovery, and psychological well-being. By choosing high-quality products and consulting with healthcare professionals, athletes can safely integrate CBD into their routines, potentially enhancing their performance and recovery.