Cannabis products are rapidly growing in popularity. Here's a complete guide to CBD for athletes. CBD Oil for Runners: What are the Benefits? We have exciting news. Running Bear now offers a full line of premium CBD sports products designed to enhance your running performance. Behind the
What Is CBD and Can It Help Your Performance?
A natural alternative to ibuprofen. An antidote to anxiety. A sleep aid. A post-workout recovery booster.
Those are some of the claims about cannabidiol (CBD) oil. You may have heard about this cannabis extract, which is said to provide widespread health benefits without the drawbacks of marijuana. And because of new federal legislation, you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about CBD over the next few years.
Already, a growing number of athletes, including many in the trail running and ultramarathon community, consider CBD a key part of their regimen. And because of these early adopters, my interest piqued on CBD and its proposed benefits. Could CBD help my running? Can it help yours? I decided to find out.
But before we explore how runners and other athletes use CBD, here’s what you need to know.
What is CBD?
CBD is shorthand for cannabidiol, one of the more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis. CBD products are said to deliver their many claimed benefits by boosting the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a system that “is a unique signaling pathway that controls the function of a variety of systems throughout the body, including the cardiovascular system,” says Nicholas DiPatrizio, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical sciences at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. (More on the endocannabinoid system later.)
Endocannabinoids are familiar to runners because of their theorized role in running-induced mood boosts. That euphoric phenomenon is thought to be from activation of the same receptors in the brain that the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana acts upon. CBD “works through distinct—albeit not definitively identified—signaling systems than THC,” DiPatrizio says. CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it doesn’t produce a high.
Here are some other common questions to think about:
Is CBD legal?
The Athlete’s Guide to CBD: Treat Pain and Inflammation, Maximize Recovery, and Sleep Better Naturally
Almost all commercially available CBD products are made from industrial hemp, a cannabis plant that, by definition, contains not more than 0.3 percent THC. In December, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalizes industrial hemp. It had previously been federally classified as a Schedule 1 drug; its production and distribution were prohibited. The upshot: The federal Drug Enforcement Administration can’t interfere with the interstate commerce of industrial hemp. CBD products made from hemp are as legal as most other commercial nutritional supplements.
In terms of athletics, hemp-derived CBD was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances earlier this year. Hemp legalization and more companies targeting athletes should further separate CBD from its cultural association with marijuana.
How Do You Take CBD?
CBD products come in a variety of forms, including tinctures, gel caps, and topical applications. One athlete-focused company, Floyd’s of Leadville, offers a protein recovery powder and a carb drink that contain CBD. (That’s Floyd as in Floyd Landis, the former professional cyclist who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for failing a drug test and who helped to expose Lance Armstrong’s doping.) Another athlete-focused company, PurePower Botanicals, offers capsules that combine CBD with herbs and other purported medicinals, such as turmeric. PurePower says that the non-hemp-derived ingredients increase the effectiveness of the products’ CBD.
How Popular Is It?
In 2017, U.S. hemp-derived CBD sales totaled an estimated $190 million. At this point, companies offering CBD products are more akin to craft breweries than large corporations. That has been the case because of hemp’s previous federal legal status; banks and other financial institutions under federal oversight couldn’t be involved. Now that hemp has been legalized, look for bigger players in the health industry to enter the CBD market and for sales to increase dramatically.
What Claims Are Made About CBD?
Advocates say it helps with a wide variety of conditions, from anxiety and insomnia to inflammation and nausea. Because of the workings of the endocannabinoid system, there’s at least a theoretical basis for these claims.
“The endocannabinoid system is found in every organ throughout the body and controls many physiological processes, including food intake and energy balance, learning and memory, and pain processing, to name a few,” says DiPatrizio.
“It can affect everything from emotion to pain to appetite to energy metabolism to brain function to even the immune system and inflammation,” says Hector Lopez, M.D., a consultant to PlusCBD Oil, one of the top-selling brands. “When you have a system that crosstalks with all those pathways, then there are very few things the endocannabinoid system does not influence.”
So far, though, there’s scant clinical evidence for the claimed benefits of CBD. In June, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first CBD drug, Epidiolex, for treating seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy. Otherwise, the FDA doesn’t consider CBD products to be dietary supplements—manufacturers can’t claim the products will diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. Instead, CBD product literature contains phrases like “restore vitality,” “relax and recover,” and “may keep healthy people healthy.”
DiPatrizio says, “There may be some benefits outside of improving epilepsy outcomes, but a lot more research is required.” Any research on athletic claims would almost certainly come from the industry; there are more urgent public health CBD topics to investigate than whether it reduces runners’ knee pain. For the foreseeable future, runners interested in CBD’s effectiveness will have to rely on anecdotal, subjective reports.
What Are Athletes’ Experiences With CBD?
Some of those anecdotal reports are impressive. One of my training partners, Erin Dawson-Chalat, M.D., of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, says that her persistent plantar fascia pain went away within a few days of applying topical CBD balm to the area.
“I don’t like to take stuff like ibuprofen or prescription medications. I’m always looking for natural alternatives.”
Like many athletes I’ve spoken with, Dawson-Chalat appreciates that CBD is a natural product.
“I don’t like to take stuff like ibuprofen or prescription medications,” says Andrew Talansky, a professional triathlete from Napa, California, who, as an elite cyclist, rode in the Tour de France. “I’m always looking for natural alternatives.” When Talansky heard an increasing number of athletes talking about CBD, “I went from skepticism to being interested to asking advice on how to use it,” he says.
Talansky says that his sleep improved almost immediately when he started taking CBD daily. Soon after, he was also less anxious about transitioning from pro cycling to his new sport, felt that he recovered more quickly from hard training, and had fewer flare-ups of his old cycling injuries. Now he encourages other athletes to try CBD, in part “to get rid of the association with smoking weed,” he says. “It’s completely different.”
Elite ultramarathoner Avery Collins doesn’t mind any associations with marijuana; his Instagram handle is @runninhigh. But he also takes CBD daily, despite some of its claimed benefits overlapping with those attributed to marijuana.
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“THC products are more for the psychoactive effect, which may not be for everyone,” the Steamboat Springs, Colorado, resident says. “CBD use is for more health-minded people.” Collins says CBD products “are a big part of my daily routine,” and credits them with boosting his energy levels, speeding his recovery from long trail runs, and improving his sleep.
My Trial With CBD
Given reports like these, I decided to conduct an (admittedly flawed) experiment of one: For one month, I would take CBD daily while changing nothing else—mileage, intensity, strength training, other aspects of self-care—in my routine.
What did I experience? As was the case for Talansky, my sleep improved almost immediately. It wasn’t that I slept more; I felt like I slept better—more soundly, less waking during the night, more often getting out of bed feeling refreshed. By the second week, I noticed less overall creakiness while going about daily activities; CBD advocates would say the products had lowered systemic inflammation. Those two changes made me feel like I was recovering better from training, which led to being more eager to train, and feeling better while doing so.
Most acutely, the discomfort and stiffness I’d felt for months from a meniscus tear (confirmed by MRI) went away. The occasional twinges I had been getting on runs stopped. More significantly, what had been the tear’s near-constant presence in daily life, such as when getting up from sitting, has disappeared. For now, I’ve postponed surgery on the tear. It’s impossible to know if CBD was the key factor in any of these changes. Still, at the end of the month, I decided to keep taking CBD daily.
All that said, CBD isn’t an athletic cure-all. After my initial month-long experiment, I wrenched my lower back while lifting weights. Increasing my CBD intake, primarily through frequent self-massage with salves and creams, didn’t seem to help. Rest and prescription muscle relaxants were the keys to resuming normal activities, including running.
My experience meshes with how some health professionals who work with athletes view CBD.
Dan Frey, a physical therapist in Portland, Maine, says that his patients report the most success using CBD to treat long-term trouble spots rather than acute injury sites. Frey, who doesn’t prescribe medication or supplements, says his conversations about CBD are initiated by patients. Many also tell Frey they find it helps with pain management, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments such as massage and a targeted strengthening and mobility program.
“CBD coupled with stretching, icing, and foam rolling is a common treatment plan for tendonitis injuries about the knee, such as iliotibial band syndrome,” says Charles Bush-Joseph, M.D., a professor of orthopedics at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “Many patients like the fact that CBD is a natural substance. While specific research on the use of CBD in this instance is lacking, many believe that it helps prevent muscle and collagen breakdown.”
How Should You Take CBD?
In addition to how to take CBD—tincture, gel, topical cream, drink powder—there are the matters of how much and when.
“One of the intricacies of CBD is that effective dosing can be much different between two people,” Lopez says. “There’s no way to know what dose is right for you until you try it, but in general, if you’re someone who is sensitive to most medications, start at the lower end of typical doses.” By that, he means a daily dose of 5 to 15 milligrams—a few drops of a tincture, depending on a product’s strength. “If you’re feeling no effects, adverse or beneficial, after three to five days, add another serving of the same amount.”
Runners pushing themselves daily might want to try more. Floyd’s of Leadville owner Bob Bell says that the company’s 50-milligram soft gels are its top seller. Talansky says his baseline is a 25-milligram gel, plus applying a strong topical cream three to five times a day if a specific body part is bothering him. He takes more on his hardest training days to speed recovery.
How much is too much? Lopez says no significant adverse reactions have been reported for the more than 1 million doses that have been sold in the United States. There is, however, a personal threshold at which the products stop being effective, and maybe even become less effective.
I found I was too groggy during work hours if, on a typical day, I took CBD in the morning and at night. A dose of 25 milligrams an hour before going to bed, plus occasional topical use, has become my norm. The main exception is after an especially long or hard weekend run when I have an additional 25 milligrams if I’m planning to mostly lounge about the house.
Lopez recommends that most people start with a pre-bed dose. Capsules allow you to know exactly how much you’re taking at once. Tinctures, which are the industry’s sales leaders, allow you to customize a day’s dosage.
What Should You Look for When Buying CBD Products?
Knowing how much CBD you’re taking can take a little math. Again, capsules are straightforward—the bottle will say how much CBD each one contains. For tinctures, you need to know the total amount of CBD in the container and the container’s size to calculate how much CBD is in each serving. I found 1-ounce tincture bottles, which contain roughly 30 servings, that ranged from containing 100 milligrams of CBD to 1,000.
CBD Oil for Runners: What are the Benefits?
We have exciting news. Running Bear now offers a full line of premium CBD sports products designed to enhance your running performance. Behind the range are Mission C, an innovative brand on a quest to create awareness surrounding CBD: a natural, hemp-derived compound with science-backed benefits for athletes. Whether you’re pushing for that 5K PB or taking on strenuous marathon training, Mission C’s high-quality CBD oils, balms and gummies can help you reach your goals. We’re here to tell you how.
What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in cannabis. Extracted from hemp plants, CBD differs in chemical structure from another famous cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – that’s the compound that gets you ‘high’ and occurs predominantly in the marijuana plant.
CBD offers many of the same well-being benefits as THC but offers none of the intoxicating effects. Our bodies contain a complex biological system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which helps regulate many of our vital functions including mood, stress, sleep, inflammation and pain perception. CBD interacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors found within the ECS and influences symptoms linked to stress, anxiety, inflammation, and pain. Essentially, CBD positively impacts your body’s ability to maintain homeostasis, keeping your mind and body in a contented and balanced state.
CBD is easy to add to your fitness regime. Use it before a run for enhanced focus, energy and performance, and enjoy post-workout for improved muscle recovery and total body restoration.
CBD-infused products are legal in the UK, provided they contain less than 0.2% THC, the psychoactive cannabis compound. This means the product will not get you high.
Is CBD Prohibited Within Sport?
The use of CBD in sports is not prohibited and is becoming increasingly popular. The cannabinoid, when purified, is legal with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UK Anti-Doping Organisation, after being removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances in 2018. Importantly, THC and other cannabinoids remain on the list. When purchasing CBD, check product levels for contamination with prohibited cannabinoids (remember, products can legally contain up to 0.2% THC in the UK).
How Can CBD Enhance Performance?
As runners, we frequently put our bodies under stress and raised inflammation levels are sometimes more than the endocannabinoid system can cope with. Studies have shown that CBD can offer several physiological and psychological effects with the potential to benefit athletes. The compound essentially works to boost your endocannabinoid system, providing additional cannabinoids to help manage chemical unbalance. Maintaining homeostasis is fundamental for optimal recovery and general good health.
CBD is safe to use before and after a run. Using CBD before a workout has been shown to provide the following benefits:
- Energy boost – Studies have shown that CBD has a naturally energising effect on the body. Using CBD up to one hour before a run can promote wakefulness, increase energy levels and lower inflammation.
- Enhanced stamina – CBD can help athletes push themselves further. Enabling a consistent release of energy in conjunction with analgesic effects gives runners the extra boost required to get those last few miles in the bag.
- Sharpened focus – Evidence shows that CBD can reduce symptoms of anxiety and lower stress levels. A relaxed state of mind provides optimum conditions for mental clarity, enhanced concentration and greater athletic confidence.
Which CBD Products Should I Use Before Running?
Ready to run? We recommend a couple of drops of Mission C’s Pre-Workout CBD Oil up to one hour before you head out. With a carefully curated combination of broad-spectrum CBD, natural ashwagandha, citral and maca root, you’ll feel energised, focused and ready to take on the miles. Ashwagandha assists CBD in improving brain function and concentration, while citral provides powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, you can perfectly prep your leg muscles by applying Pre-Workout CBD Heating Muscle Balm. Infused with pure isolate CBD plus camphor, menthol and natural essential oils, this luxurious balm intensely heats the muscle, stimulating blood flow while reducing inflammation and providing the required energy boost for your best performance yet.
How Can CBD Benefit Muscle Recovery?
Regular runners know that efficient muscle recovery is paramount to great performance. Helping the recovery process enables optimum muscle repair and growth. Athletes can maximise post-run recovery with the help of CBD.
- Reduced injury risk – CBD has proven anti-inflammatory effects on your joints. This can reduce pain and lessen the risk of injury and post-run stiffness, which is especially important for runners, who are at greater risk of knee pain and injury.
- Lowered muscle inflammation – The anti-inflammation benefits of CBD assists in competent muscle repair by reducing swelling, weakness, and pain.
- Improved sleep quality – CBD calms the mind and body. Reduction of anxiety and stress allows for better sleep, a vital factor in the muscle recovery process.
Which CBD Products Should I Use Post-Run?
Enjoy that post-run high, but don’t forget your fatigued muscles! Treat them to a therapeutic massage using Post-Workout CBD Cooling Muscle Balm. With added natural ingredients menthol, peppermint and methyl salicylate, this soothing salve effectively eases aches and stiffness while decreasing blood flow and lowering muscle inflammation.
Give your body an additional recovery boost with Post-Workout CBD Oil, a smooth oil created to assist both mental and physical recuperation. Infused with passionflower, turmeric and black pepper alongside CBD, a few drops of this post-run (or as required) will help with inflammation reduction, improved sleep quality and accelerated recovery.
You can also try Immune Enhance CBD Multivitamin Gummies – whenever your immune system needs a helping hand in fighting off illness and infection. These tasty, fruit-flavoured sweets are formulated with an abundance of vitamins and nutrients including Vitamin A, CB12, C, Zinc and 5HTP, to aid your body’s natural defence. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating for a runner than being forced to skip run day because you’re run down.
Given the extensive reported benefits of CBD, it comes as no surprise that runners’ use of the cannabis compound is rising in popularity. Though studies are preliminary at this stage, evidence is promising for CBD’s potential to act as a catalyst in the running recovery process and positively impact pain management, inflammation levels, stress and mindset. We’re 100% convinced that CBD can help runners of all abilities, and we’re cheering on the great Mission C in their worthy quest.