CBD for Sports: How CBD Can Help Athletes with Performance and Recovery

Whether you're an athlete, a regular gym-goer, a weekend warrior, or even a couch potato, body aches and stiffness are common issues that can hinder your active lifestyle. These pains can lead to more severe health issues if left untreated. Thankfully, CBD and hemp extracts have gained popularity for their wellness benefits in recent years. Moreover, athletes have started using CBD and hemp extracts to improve their performance and aid in recovery.

The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) removed CBD from its list of banned substances in 2018, allowing athletes to benefit from its effects. A recent study revealed that 26% of professional rugby players in the UK reported using CBD [1]. So how exactly can CBD help athletes? And should you consider using it for sports? In this article, we'll delve deeper into the science behind CBD and its potential benefits for athletes.

How CBD can Enhance Athletic Performance

One potential reason why CBD might have such a beneficial effect on athletic performance is that it interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex system of receptors and enzymes that are involved in maintaining the body's balance or homeostasis. The system is responsible for regulating a wide range of functions, including sleep, mood, appetite, and pain perception. CBD interacts with the body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors, which might contribute to its anti-inflammatory and relaxing properties. 

CBD has been shown to improve sports performance and aid in post-workout recovery [2]. Research has demonstrated that CBD can help reduce muscle soreness and hasten recovery time, making it a go-to supplement for many athletes. In a 2020 study, researchers found that participants who consumed CBD had quicker muscle soreness recovery compared to those who did not receive CBD [3]. Additionally, CBD has pro-regenerative effects, which help with muscle damage and healing [4]. Furthermore, CBD has been linked to improved running performance by increasing oxygen consumption and the feeling of pleasure during exercise without negatively impacting exercise performance [5].

When and How to Take CBD for Athletic Performance: Tips and Dosages

Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the potential of CBD for athletes, the evidence thus far suggests that it can be a valuable tool in enhancing athletic performance and aiding in post-workout recovery. When it comes to timing and dosage, in trials with strength athletes CBD is typically taken post-exercise, while in trials with endurance athletes, it is taken pre-exercise. Some experts suggest a consistent CBD supplementation routine for optimal results instead of a single dose. Doses vary by study, with most athletes taking 10-20mg of CBD.

So if you're an athlete looking for a natural solution to help with your performance and recovery, CBD might be right for you. One thing to keep in mind is that while CBD isn't a banned substance, THC is. So, it's crucial to choose your CBD products wisely to avoid testing positive on drug screenings. Stick with broad-spectrum hemp extracts or CBD isolate instead of full-spectrum hemp extracts, and always read the product description and certificate of analysis to ensure the product meets your needs. As further investigations are warranted, and on their way, CBD may become a go-to for athletes. As always, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.


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More Tips for Muscle Recovery: How to Support Your Body After Exercise

CBD can be a great tool for muscle recovery, but there are many other things you can do to help your body bounce back faster.

  • Make sure to get enough restful sleep each night.

Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night is critical for anyone, especially physically active people. Research shows that sleep deprivation can cause a range of problems, including weakened immunity, slower muscle recovery, and decreased mood and performance. On the other hand, getting enough sleep can help improve all of these areas and help you perform at your best [6].

  • Follow a healthy, protein-rich diet and stay hydrated.

Along with sleep, nutrition is key to muscle recovery after exercise. Eating a balanced diet with adequate amounts of carbs and protein will help replenish your energy levels and rebuild muscle [7]. Start with whole foods before trying supplements, as they are often specific and may not provide all the micronutrients your body needs. Drinking enough water is also crucial for maintaining good health, especially when working out. Exercise can cause you to lose up to 2-3 liters of sweat per hour, so staying hydrated is essential for avoiding muscle cramps and fatigue [8].

  • Take rest days and use foam rolling techniques.

It's important to work out regularly to see results, but pushing yourself too hard can do more harm than good. Overtraining can lead to fatigue, poor sleep, decreased performance, and even a weakened immune system. Lower intensity days and at least one rest day per week can help reduce the risk of overtraining [9]. Foam rolling, a form of self-massage using a roller device and your own body weight to apply pressure to muscles, has been shown to be effective at relieving muscle soreness when done post-exercise [10]. Incorporating foam rolling into your routine can help you get back to working out sooner.

Remember that your body needs time to rest and recover in order to adapt and grow stronger. While exercise sets the stage for muscle growth, recovery is where the magic happens. Follow the tips above to set yourself up for optimal recovery, and consider adding CBD to your routine if you need additional support.


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Portrait of Anna Falk

written by

anna falk - head of product

As the Head of Product at Harmony, Dr Anna Falk leads the development of our products and provides expert tips for your wellness. With over 10 years of experience in the research and development of natural products, her work is based on rigorous scientific studies.

Anna is an award-winning, internationally published researcher with a PhD in Organic Chemistry. She applies her expertise to develop Harmony's certified products that support your overall well-being. From research to development, she ensures that our products are of the highest quality and meet the highest standards.