How Does CBD Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery?

How Does CBD Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery?

Athletes of any level can now legally consume cannabidiol (CBD) products in Canada – but what is it, what does it do, and why would you use it?

Here’s a quick breakdown on the effects of CBD to athletic performance and recovery.

But first, what is CBD?

Cannabinoids already exist in our bodies through what scientists call the endocannibinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for the activity of neurons. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid that’s found naturally in cannabis plants. But unlike THC, which too comes from cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive.

What we know about the relationship between the ECS and CBD

Scientists’ understanding of how the ECS functions and how CBD positively influences the bodily system continues to improve. For a long time, research in this area was hard to come by due to the legal status of cannabis.

Now, armed with recent studies and 2018’s The Essentials of Pain Medicine, Fourth Ed., we know the following:

  • The body’s nervous system can produce two endocannabinoids (2-AG and EAE) in the postsynaptic neurons (downstream), which are released into the synapse.
  • These endocannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors on the pre-synaptic neuron (upstream), inhibiting the release of certain neurotransmitters.
  • For example; if using CBD to treat epilepsy, it may reduce seizure activity by – in part – reducing the buildup of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter.
  • CB1 receptors are found throughout the brain, spinal cord, and other tissues; CBD binding to CB1 receptors affects the central nervous system.
  • CB2 receptors are most abundant in immune system tissues; CBD binding to CB2 receptors helps reduce inflammation post-exercise.

CBD and athletic performance

Athletes endure higher stress on the body – both mentally and physically – which leads to pain and inflammation that your endocannabinoid system isn’t equipped to handle.

With the ECS maintaining homeostasis and keeping neurotransmitter levels balanced, adding CBD to your workout routine is a way of supporting or enhancing your body’s existing endocannabinoid system. This means better athletic performance and recovery through CB2 receptors, and better mental sharpness and focus through CB1 receptors.

The influx of added CBD can help the overloaded endocannabinoid system keep neurotransmitters in check and under control, so your body can maintain its state of homeostasis.

Besides pain relief and reduced inflammation, CBD can enhance your fitness regimen by:

  • Lowering stress levels – CBD products are being trusted more and more by health practitioners and the general public for stress- and anxiety-relieving properties. With CBD, athletes can say bye to race-day jitters and the physical aftermath of a grueling run or workout.
  • Improving sleep – A better night’s rest is often the first thing people notice when taking CBD. Good sleep is essential to athletic performance, enhancing recovery time and effectiveness whether you’re recovering from injury or a particularly tough workout.
  • Boosting energy – Interacting with the ECS, CBD acts as an adaptogen, knowing what your body needs and providing the right response, whether that’s calming the mind or recovering from exhaustion.
  • Calm your stomach and reduce nausea – CBD can help alleviate gut issues as well as interacting with your serotonin receptors to reduce nausea. Finally, you won’t have to worry about a wonky stomach come game- or race-day.