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While CBD has taken the health and wellness world by storm in recent years, athletes are only just now getting in on the CBD bandwagon. In fact, CBD for athletes can give them more than a competitive edge — it can help reduce recovery, improve focus and help optimize performance, and what athlete wouldn’t want that?

But for those that haven’t tried CBD yet, much yet for the athletes that haven’t integrated CBD into their training and performance regimens, it can be difficult to know where to start. After all, CBD is one of hundreds of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant — along with well-known compounds such as THC and lesser-known ones like CBG — and scientists are only just now unlocking the secrets of CBD after decades of federal prohibition.

However, CBD does show significant promise in the areas of athletic competition and training since it can reduce pain, inflammation and muscle soreness that is commonly associated with peak athletic performance. Indeed, CBD carries many of the benefits of THC without the effect of being high, and that can mean being able to train harder and recover faster for athletes that use CBD.

CBD Reduces Pain

One of the primary benefits of CBD for athletes is that it can reduce pain and inflammation associated with exercise, training or injury. That just might give you the edge when you can take less time off and recover faster in between training or after injury — and you’ll never have to worry about the buzzy high associated with THC that can sap your concentration and focus.

That’s also born out in studies that have proven that while THC can affect short-term memory and focus, CBD doesn’t. In short, CBD oil may just be an ideal addition to your athletic endeavors, and it doesn’t risk addiction or other problems like opioids and other modern painkillers. In some instances, athletes may even use CBD to help lessen their dependency on opioids and other substances.

Side Effects of CBD

While even the positive effects of CBD are readily apparent, there are some limited side effects that you should be aware of. The most common of them are fatigue, diarrhea and changes in weight or appetite.

Legality of CBD in Athletics

It’s important to check with the governing body of your sport if you plan on taking CBD for a competitive advantage. Some institutions and sports may ban the substance outright, which can put you on the wrong side of the rules. That said, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from their list of prohibited substances back in 2018. But that hasn’t stopped most major sports leagues and organizations from prohibiting CBD from being used by their athletes, even if they only use it at home.

The good news is that CBD won’t cause you to fail a drug test or test positive for THC, though some CBD products do contain THC in more than trace amounts. If the packaging gives no indication of how much CBD is inside, much less whether other cannabis compounds are present, it’s likely not the best CBD product for athletes. If you’re being tested periodically, you may want to reach out to the organizers to determine how best to stay on the right side of the rules.

Other Important Considerations With CBD for Athletes

Now that CBD is legal on the federal level, you can walk into many stores and walk out with CBD. That’s much different from cannabis, which is only sold in specialized dispensaries in legalized states that have recreational or medical marijuana laws on the books. But the problem with being able to buy CBD in grocery stores and drug stores is that there’s little regulation and even less understanding of what’s exactly in each CBD product.

As we previously mentioned, if you can’t find a clear indication of how much CBD is present in a given product, it could be safe to say that there’s no more than a trace amount, which won’t really do anything for you as an athlete. Unfortunately, these products are designed more as a marketing ploy than anything else, and just because something has CBD on the cover and a steep price tag doesn’t mean that there’s any useful CBD inside.

For these reasons and more, it’s best to purchase your CBD from a reputable dispensary or another store where you can trust the products that are being sold. A random CBD product in your local grocery probably doesn’t meet that criteria, especially if there are no percentages or testing numbers shown on the packaging. Dispensaries have a much more rigorous process for vetting the products that they sell, and that means an easier time for patrons that want good products without all the guesswork.

Additionally, you also may want to reach out to your doctor and ask their opinion of CBD for athletes, particularly with regard to your specific usage. If you have any existing medical conditions or you’re taking other medications, CBD may interact with and complicate existing issues, and that can make it less than ideal for you even if CBD is great for athletes. At the very least, pay particular attention if you’re currently taking drugs that are processed by the liver since that can be a common interaction point with CBD.

Once you’ve decided to give CBD a try, start with a low dose and work your way up. It can be difficult to know if it’s working, so don’t try to haphazardly integrate it before your next competition or workout — though an ideal time could be after a strenuous workout or competition. Pay attention to your mood and how you feel, particularly if you find yourself in pain or wound-up from the day’s activities. If you feel relaxed and calm when you usually feel pain or stress, that could be the CBD in action.

After you develop an understanding of how your body reacts to CBD, you can start upping your dosage, experimenting with other products and trying your hand at integrating CBD into your workouts or your competitive schedule. Aside from CBD oil, there are also CBD capsules and pills, CBD foods and drinks, and CBD balms and salves that you can rub directly on the affected areas. You can also mix and match different CBD product types, such as using a CBD balm on a sore shoulder or knee while also taking CBD orally for general de-stressing, focus and relaxation.

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