CBD is a product that there are a lot of misconceptions about. Some people claim that CBD helps with almost everything, others say that it gets you high, while some still claim that it does nothing at all.
Clearly, the truth has to fall somewhere in between all of those ideas. The best thing we can do is try to get a fundamental understanding of CBD so we can understand how potential health benefits could arise.
We’re going to talk about CBD in relation to athletic recovery today, looking at how these products work to benefit recovery options, reduce muscle pain, and contribute to pain management in general.
Hopefully, the ideas below will give you a better appreciation of CBD and what it might be able to do. Let’s get started.
The Fundamentals of CBD
Before you look at how CBD benefits athletes, you have to understand the essential points of what it is and how it works. Getting the foundation will put the particulars into a much better context that allows you to make informed choices.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid found in cannabis and hemp plants. It’s best-known as THC’s partner in crime. That’s a connection that actually does CBD a disservice to those who aren’t interested in getting high.
Because THC and CBD are siblings, people imagine that CBD gets you high. We’ll bust that myth in a moment. Note that there are something like 200 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant that we know.
Most of those cannabinoids don’t get you high but do produce some kind of effect on the endocannabinoid system, which is the system that interprets cannabinoids.
It does a whole lot more than that, though.
Understanding The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors that works to keep the body in equilibrium. That’s a general statement, we know, but it’s true that the endocannabinoid system operates across the body in different ways, helping other systems maintain their balance.
Things like appetite, pain response, immune function, anxiety, stress, and more are all kept in check by the endocannabinoid system. You’ll note that the list above tends to be included in the list of potential benefits from CBD products.
When we introduce cannabinoids to the system, they bind to different receptors in the endocannabinoid system and produce unique effects. Different cannabinoids have unique chemical structures, and they prompt the system to do different things.
In the case of CBD, the effects tend to subdue or slow different activities in the body. In the case of THC, on the other hand, there’s a psychoactive effect.
CBD and THC are distinct from one another. They have different chemical structures, and they can be isolated from one another. CBD binds to the CB2 receptor, which is an entrance to the bodily aspects of the endocannabinoid system.
On the other hand, THC binds to CB1 receptors, which play a heavier part in the functions of the brain. CBD does interact with the CB1 receptors in some way, but that doesn’t mean that you get high from the product.
The effect comes from the chemical structure of the cannabinoid, not necessarily the receptor to which it binds.
CBD’s Physical Effects
The primary way that CBD products are used as tools for athletes is in the form of pain relief.
Managing the aches and pains that go along with physical activity can be difficult. You can run all of the ice baths and stretching routines you want, but odds are that you’re still going to be sore.
CBD comes in clutch for a number of reasons. First, CBD acts to slow down some of the signals in the central nervous system and subdue the pain response.
In other words, the parts of your body that hurt won’t be able to scream at you as loudly. You’ll know where you’re sore, but you won’t be able to experience the distinct pain in such an intense way. That’s great for the immediate experience, and you can use products in advance to prevent yourself from feeling the pain at all.
Further, CBD is known to help reduce inflammation. As we noted, inflammation is something on which the endocannabinoid system operates. CBD serves to reduce the signals that prompt inflammation.
Anyone who’s experienced inflammation knows that it’s a huge contributor to pain in athletic recovery. CBD just mutes that response a little bit and gives your muscles the chance to breathe.
How This Helps Recovery
Note that CBD attacks recovery from the angles of pain as well as inflammation.
That means that a lack of pain will allow you to start making progress in physical therapy. If something doesn’t hurt too badly and you’re not pulling muscles, it’s typically time to start making minor moves to extend your range of motion and work the muscle back into shape.
One of the main contributors to pain is inflammation. It’s ironic, too, because inflammation is just an attempt that your body is making to protect you. The body can create an immune response to something that doesn’t pose a threat.
This is the case in most instances of inflammation. Reducing that response reduces pain. It also gives your body the chance to distribute its energy elsewhere. As a result, you can move your muscles and start to participate in physical therapy without any agony.
Short-Term Recovery Benefits
CBD is also beneficial to those who aren’t necessarily injured. Anyone who works out on a regular basis might be able to benefit from CBD.
An intense workout or practice can leave you feeling sore and inflamed. Whether you’d just rather not feel that ache or you’re worried that the inflammation could lead to injury, CBD can help.
There are a lot of options that you can simply incorporate into your daily life. Take oils sublingually, or just swallow a capsule with your daily vitamins. If you’re someone who has a particular ache or pain, you might invest in some CBD rub to ease your pain right where it hurts.
Rubs enter through the skin and start operating pretty quickly. You might notice that the pain of the particular area is benefited significantly, and the rest of your body starts to feel some effects a little later.
Oral or sublingual options tend to take a little longer to work, although they’re distributed through the blood to the whole body. There are different pros and cons to all of the CBD products available.
What About Drug Tests?
Athletes have to be careful about the products they use, as they’re subjected to a lot of drug and PED tests.
Cannabis tends to be a drug that’s frowned upon in most athletic organizations. If you test positive for cannabis, you might be kicked off of teams, removed from tournaments, and more.
Those are things you can’t afford to have happen, especially since you’re not using cannabis. You’re just using a cannabinoid that doesn’t have any psychoactive properties or effects.
You have to be careful when choosing your CBD products. Some products do contain trace amounts of THC. In most cases, the amount of THC that’s legal in a CBD product is somewhere around 0.3 percent. That’s not enough to produce a “high,” but it could be enough to show up in a drug test.
If you’re using CBD on a daily basis, that fraction of a percent could stick around in your blood.
Note that there are some options that don’t have any THC in them. Most of the all-natural or full-spectrum options on the market do have THC inside.
Oils and concentrates that aren’t full-spectrum typically don’t. Almost all of the CBD products you find on the market will have some notice of the amount of THC included.
If they don’t specify that fact, make sure to call customer service and see what they have to say. When you call and the person doesn’t know whether there’s THC, just find a different company.
You will find a healthy CBD company that gives you THC-free options that won’t have you panicking whenever you need to take a drug test. It’s unfair that something that benefits you without cheating could get you punished.
That said, CBD oil on drug tests won’t show up unless there’s THC in the product. That’s something you can prevent, and most companies have options without any THC.
A little bit of THC is not acceptable by the standards of most sporting and drug agencies. Whatever your thoughts on that are, we have to abide by those rules until something changes.
Want To Learn More About CBD for Athletic Recovery?
CBD could be an excellent tool for your athletic recovery. There’s more to think about in terms of using CBD for pain management and muscle pain, though. We’re here to help you explore your options and learn more about cannabidiol.
Explore our site to get insights into tools for athletes to manage pain and capitalize on their recovery options.