Can CBD Help Athletic Performance?

The stress of athletic training can cause trauma, pain, and injury in an athlete’s body. Athletics, however, is a demanding field that demands consistency and performance. 

As such, athletes typically look for performance-enhancing substances to help them achieve better stamina, lasting performance, and pain management. 

Unfortunately, sometimes, it takes forever to find the right supplement. Also, once the athletes find a substance that passes the doping criteria, they are likely to stick to them. 

Notably, the regulations aren’t as complicated as people think. They just have to be safe and natural.

CBD for pain has recently become popular among athletes as a natural supplement, but does it work? Let’s find that out below.

What is CBD? 

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and is derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant. The cannabis plant is also known by other names like hemp and marijuana. 

CBD was officially discovered in the 1940s and became immensely popular once hemp was legalized in 2018. However, there are still some limitations on its manufacturing and sale.

Marijuana plant.

People often confuse CBD with marijuana. Nevertheless, a fine line separates the two. 

Marijuana contains a high amount of THC (the substance that gives the “high” effect) whereas CBD contains little to no THC. 

CBD Benefits

The relationship between CBD and fitness might be a mystery to you. However, after reading the guide, you will understand how CBD boosts athletes’ performance and keeps them fit.

CBD benefits for athletes are generally physiological, biochemical, and psychological. For instance, it can help reduce pain and inflammation, promote bone health, and manage sports anxiety. Read below to learn more. 

Alleviates Inflammation and Pain

In 2020, Sports Medicine published a CBD trial review. This study evaluated both clinical trials on non-athletes and preclinical animal studies. There was an indication that CBD can benefit athletes with its psychological and physiological effects. 

Another study conducted in 2016 indicates that CBD can suppress pain and inflammation. 

When an athlete exercises for an extended period, inflammation may occur. Even repetitive workouts can irritate their muscles. However, CBD can help a great deal in this regard. 

Today, many over-the-counter CBD products, including oils, creams, lotions, and balms, are available on the market. A gentle massage on the affected area can reduce discomfort and relax stiff muscles and pinched nerves. 

CBD topicals also contain natural substances like menthol, essential oils, and plant extracts that alleviate pain and improve blood flow. As such, athletes can benefit from CBD for pain and inflammation. 

Prevents GI Damage

Sports Medicine’s study also made a revelation that CBD can protect the body against gastrointestinal damage.

Strenuous workouts can often cause damage to the GI tract. But how does it exactly happen? Well, that’s because intense physical activity alters the way the body functions. 

For instance, the body increases blood supply to active muscles, the cardiopulmonary system, and the skin to meet the need for oxygen and other nutrients during rigorous exercises.

This redistribution of blood dramatically reduces blood flow to the gut, causing gastrointestinal problems. What else gets affected by the GI stress is the athletes’ performance and ability to recover. 

They may also suffer from nausea, vomiting, and impaired nutritional uptake. Luckily, CBD can repair the permeability of the gut. 

Additionally, it can also decrease tissue damage, according to preclinical research.

Promotes Healthy Bones

Healthy bones play a vital role in an athlete’s life. There has been growing evidence that CBD can promote bone health.

A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research suggests that CBD can heal fractures and strengthen bones simultaneously.  

CBD was given to rats with mid-femoral fractures during the study, and researchers discovered that cannabinoid ligands modulated bone mass. Furthermore, the researcher Yankel Gabet noted that the bone treated with CBD would be hard to break in the future. 

Sports injuries can result in fractures or broken bones among athletes, and it’s not uncommon. CBD intake, however, can strengthen the bones, thereby facilitating mobility. 

Manages Sports Anxiety

Many athletes experience anxiety before or after their performance. It not only disrupts their sleep but also increases their energy expenditure and impairs their nutritional intake. As a result, their health deteriorates. 

While we cannot deny the positive effects of CBD on physical health, CBD helps a great deal with mental health too. 

Studies suggest that CBD can help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Also, its effects are similar to those of antidepressants. Therefore, CBD does not only help athletes manage sports anxiety but also people who are not athletes. 

Additionally, CBD combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy can double the effect.

So, if you’re an athlete who experiences anxiety before or after sports, consider consuming CBD oil before the game. It will not only help you fight against anxiety symptoms but may help improve performance with a clearer mind. 

Not every athlete suffers from sports anxiety; however, those who do can significantly benefit from CBD. 

Protects Against Brain Injury

It is not uncommon for athletes to suffer from minor to major brain injuries during the play. When you are out in the field, there is a high chance of getting injured. Nevertheless, you might be able to save your life, thanks to CBD’s magical properties. 

A CBD research on athletes suggested how it can help players who get brain concussions during the games. The study indicated that CBD’s neuroprotective properties could prevent damage after a sports injury.

Trending Tips on CBD Products

Improves Sleep Routine

A good night’s sleep is vital before a big game for any athlete. Most athletes, however, do not get enough sleep regularly. Sleep disturbances not only negatively impact their performance but also worsen their health. 

Athletes may experience changes in sleep patterns due to multiple factors.

  • Pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Stress

Research was conducted in 2019 to determine the efficacy of CBD for sleep. The findings seem promising. 

Seventy-two adults with anxiety and insomnia symptoms demonstrated considerable improvement in their sleep patterns following the first month of CBD intake. 

Another reason an athlete might have trouble falling asleep is pain. Luckily, CBD for inflammation can help soothe the pain, thus improving sleep. 

Multiple anxiety disorders can also be the culprit of the disturbed sleep cycle in athletes. CBD, however, can suppress specific anxiety disorders. So, a reduction in anxiety disorders makes sleep easier. 

Are There Any Side Effects of CBD Oil?

CBD has a good safety profile and is generally well-tolerated. Nevertheless, it can show specific side effects if you are taking other medications along with CBD. Here are a few typical CBD side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Dizziness 

Therefore, it’s best to consult your doctor before you plan to add CBD to your diet. 

Athletes’ Feedback and Experts’ Opinions

Dr. Elaine Burns is the founder of Dr. Burns’ ReLeaf CBD products. She is also the medical director of Southwest Medical Marijuana Physicians Group. According to her, CBD is fruitful for athletes.

However, she claims that more research is required in the area. The current data is limited and is based on animals more than humans. Burns believes that CBD is more fit for athletes who tend to have more concussions.

Additionally, Stu Kam is a jiu-jitsu athlete. He is also the owner of ATH Organics

Stu revealed that CBD helped him on his road to recovery. He claimed that it enabled him to sleep better at night.

Can CBD Make Me Fail a Drug Test? 

New athletes are concerned about failing a drug test; therefore, they often ask this question. 

Lab test for drugs.

The short answer is NO; CBD does not appear on a drug test. The THC content in CBD products is limited to 0.3 percent, and it is insufficient to get anyone high. 

So, as long as it’s pure CBD, you’re on the safe side. 

All you have to do is make sure you get a CBD product from a credible source. Because certain CBD brands on the market sell fake products with false ingredients, this was the reason that in 2019, FDA warned certain CBD companies

For this reason, it is imperative to purchase CBD products from a reputable and reliable brand. 

How to Purchase a CBD Product? 

If you visit your local market today or search the internet to purchase CBD for inflammation or pain, you’ll come across a variety of items. As such, you may wonder which product is legitimate. Luckily, you can determine the authenticity of a product based on a few factors.

  • Brand reputation
  • Amount of THC (should be no more than 0.3%)
  • Third-party testing 
  • Online reviews
  • Ingredients (prefer natural ingredients) 

cbdMD Premium Relieve, Joy organics CBD salve, and CBDol Topical salve are a few CBD products for pain that you can try. 

So, Does CBD Help With Athletic Performance? 

CBD can definitely help with athletic performance. Athletes often suffer from injuries, pain, and disturbed sleep patterns due to vigorous exercise and physical activities. As a result, their performance is reduced dramatically. 

However, CBD for inflammation helps promote bone health, reduce pain, and improve sleep, thus allowing them to perform better. 


There are several studies and reports regarding CBD for pain. However, the Sports Medicine and Pharmacological Research authors believe that further research is needed to understand it better. 

So far, the research has been encouraging. However, clinical research targeted at athletes can give more accurate results regarding CBD for inflammation. Hopefully, the study will soon begin as Aurora Cannabis is teaming up with the UFC on this mission.

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