CBD for Athletes: What Athletes to Know and Why

As an athlete, pushing yourself to the limit to overcome intense physical adversities is a part of the game and a continual challenge that molds you into a better athlete.

Naturally, pain and injuries are widespread amongst athletes.

While “no pain, no gain” is a mindset every athlete learns to respect. Many will often overlook potential risks and health issues that should be addressed, leading to long-term health issues.

With a growing concern amongst athletes, many have taken a serious interest in hemp-derived CBD, and for a good reason.

This article will explore the benefits of CBD for athletes, how it works, and discuss essential considerations about CBD for professional athletes.

What Is Cannabidiol (CBD) and How Does It Work?CBD is changing the world

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally-derived compound produced in the sticky resin of the cannabis plant.

When adequately extracted from industrial hemp, CBD will not cause any intoxicating effects on the user.

In addition, hemp is distinguished by containing very low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering compound found in marijuana. CBD derived from industrial hemp is legal to use in the United States under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (also known as the 2018 Farm Bill).

By interacting with the CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the synaptic signaling system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), research has shown that CBD can help regulate important health functions to maintain homeostasis in the body.

The Benefits of CBD for Athletes

With dozens of therapeutic properties, CBD can deliver various benefits for athletes.

From pain management and muscle recovery to stress relief and mood regulation, it’s no surprise that CBD has become so popular amongst athletes.

If you’re an athlete wondering if you should use CBD, here’s 5 compelling reasons why you should.

1. CBD Can Reduce Inflammation and Help Manage Pain

CBD for athletic pain

Athletes are constantly pushing their bodies to the limit, resulting in soreness, pain, and occasional injuries.

Advil and over-the-counter painkillers have been common treatments for managing this pain. However, evidence has shown that long-term use of certain painkillers can increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and other serious health problems.CBD is a natural alternative to traditional pain medication that delivers effective treatment in two ways. (1) CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and can significantly reduce the swelling and pain caused by inflammation. (2) CBD can influence vanilloid receptors, such as the TPRV1 receptor, which mediates pain perception and inflammation.

2. CBD Can Speed Up Post-Workout RecoveryCBD Can Speed Up Post-Workout Recovery

When we perform a physical activity that requires more exertion or strain than we had previously experienced, our muscles are torn and damaged. This results in soreness, fatigue, and pain.

After a period of rest, our muscles recover and are now stronger than before. Continually performing this process, pushing the body through each threshold, builds muscles.

While most athletes would rather be back in action instead of recovering on the sidelines, recovery is necessary to avoid serious injury.

Studies have shown that CBD is rich in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. In fact, experts believe that the antioxidative effects of CBD are even more potent than those of Vitamin C and Vitamin D.

Combined, the anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants in CBD help to reduce oxidative damage and can significantly speed up the recovery process.

3. CBD Helps Regulate Emotions and Mood Levels

CBD helps boost mood levels

As athletes, it is essential to not only keep your body in peak physical shape but your mind, as well.

Negative emotions, stress, anxiety, and mood swings are harmful factors that can deter an athlete’s confidence and dramatically affect performance.Studies reveal that CBD can improve how the brain responds to stress or anxiety and significantly improve mood levels by influencing the receptors in the brain that regulate cognition and emotion.

4. CBD Can Help You Get the Rest You Need

CBD Can Help You Get the Rest You Need

Sleep is a vital health function in which the body rejuvenates, and the mind can rest.

Without the proper amount of rest, an athlete’s body cannot restore itself, and both their mental and physical performance could significantly decline. Over time, a pattern of not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of serious health conditions.Studies have shown that CBD can help combat sleep disorders and restlessness by regulating our sleep-wake cycle and alleviating symptoms that can cause restlessness, such as anxiety, stress, and pain.

5. CBD Can Encourage Weight Loss

CBD Can Encourage Weight Loss

The body consists of two types of fat cells: brown and white.

While brown fat cells store fats that are considered beneficial, white fat cells store that fat that leads to weight gain.

That being said, it’s important for everyone, especially athletes, to maintain a low level of white fat cells and a higher level of brown fat cells.

By helping to convert white cells into brown fat cells, findings from a recent study suggest that CBD can encourage weight loss and improve overall health.

Can Professional Athletes Use CBD?

Athletes can use CBD. That’s because CBD isn’t banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Keep in mind, some CBD products contain THC. THC is prohibited by the WADA.

However, this substance is only banned for the game or event-day consumption. Players can still use full-spectrum CBD and recreational/medical marijuana outside of game days. Because of this, players can have a THC urinary threshold of 150 nanograms per milliliter.

How to Dose CBD

Now that you know that CBD is beneficial (and legal) for athletes, you may be interested in trying CBD. But first, you’ll want to know how to dose it.

First, read the manufacturer’s dosing recommendation. Most brands include this on the product packaging or their website. However, not all brands have a dosing recommendation.

If you’re taking CBD oil, the best place to start is seeing the CBD mg content per ml. Otherwise, the other administration methods are easier to dose.

You should still start with a small dose and work your way up. For edibles, take one at first. For vape, take a couple of puffs, wait about 10 minutes, and take more puffs if you feel you need it. For topicals, apply a small amount to the area. Do this a few times a day.

How to Use CBD

How to Use CBD

How do you use CBD? THC comes in four different forms: sublingual, edible, vape, and topical.


A sublingual is an oil you take and hold under your tongue. You’ll first want to know your dose (which we will cover in the next section) though most beginners take about 0.5 ml, depending on the CBD strength.

Using the included dropper, extract out your dose. Raise your tongue enough to expose the sublingual glands. Drop the CBD under your tongue and hold for at least 60 seconds. Swallow.


Whether you take gummies or capsules, start with the smallest dose. This usually means one at first. Eat the edible or swallow the capsule whole. Ideally, take your CBD edibles with food. Wait an hour or two. If you don’t feel any effects, take another.

Vape and Smoke

For vape pens that use concentrate or separate vape oil, you’ll have to load it into the vape pen. That usually consists of putting the product directly on the coil.

If you have a disposable CBD vape pen, all you need to do is turn it on and puff. If you’re using CBD flower, pack it in a bowl or roll a joint. Make sure you have a lighter handy!

Take one puff and inhale, holding for about three seconds. Exhale. Wait about 10 minutes. If you don’t feel any effects, take another puff.


Clean and pat dry the area where you’re applying the CBD. Massage as much CBD as you need in the skin. You should feel the effects in minutes. Most topical CBD brands state you can do this several times a day, but read the brand’s instructions just to make sure.


Does CBD Really Work?

Is CBD really that effective? Or is this a bunch of snake oil? Research does show that CBD can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. However, CBD can come with unwanted side effects. Just don’t take CBD the day of a game.

Should I Use a CBD Isolate or Broad/Full-Spectrum?

First, let’s cover what these terms mean. CBD isolates are just that: an isolated form of CBD extracts. Broad-spectrum is CBD plus all of the other beneficial compounds and terpenes without THC. Full-spectrum contains less than 0.3% of THC.

Most athletes use broad-spectrum CBD. That’s because the other cannabinoids and terpenes also offer benefits.

CBC and CBG are other cannabinoids. CBC is especially beneficial for its anti-inflammatory properties. Many terpenes, such as linalool, myrcene, limonene, caryophyllene, and pinene, also have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Should I Smoke or Vape CBD?

There are many CBD consumption methods. Vaping CBD oil and smoking hemp flower are two common administrations.

But is smoking or vaping a good idea? You can, but understand that very few safety studies have been conducted on inhaling CBD. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) doesn’t recommend vaping and smoking.


If you’re an athlete, you probably push yourself to accomplish your fitness goals. Because of this, you may be suffering from pain and inflammation. If that’s the case, then trying CBD may be worth it. We hope you learned a lot from our CBD for athletes guide!

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