Athletes—from pros to weekend warriors—are no strangers to pain, whether it stems from a sprained ankle, strained muscle, or run-of-the-mill aches after a tough workout. The typical treatment: Pop an ibuprofen, apply ice or heat, and push through it. But a growing number of athletes are skipping that old routine in favor of the gentler, more natural benefits of CBD. Everyone from professional cyclists to ultrarunners to NFL players swear by the compound’s ability to soothe sports-related aches and pains. The World Anti-Doping Agency is even on board, allowing the use of CBD even while it restricts other forms of cannabis.
How Does CBD Help Athletes?
Many sports-related issues stem from inflammation, the body’s natural response to overuse or injury. That’s a good thing because it’s the first step in healing—but it’s also painful. And that’s where CBD’s well-established anti-inflammatory effect comes into play, reducing the amount of inflammation-related chemicals in the body and helping relieve pain and speed recovery. Athletes tend to reach for CBD in topical creams, tinctures, and oils.
CBD and Concussions
More than 300,000 sports-related concussions happen every year in the U.S., and new findings over the past few years mean athletes, coaches, and the public are finally beginning to understand how serious these brain injuries can be. People who sustain a blow to the head—common in soccer, football, and basketball, among other sports—can suffer dizziness, headaches, memory issues, anxiety, and depression, sometimes for months after the injury. But some scientists are excited about CBD’s potential to help with concussions, too: Researchers at the University of Miami are currently studying CBD as a treatment for these traumatic brain injuries. The idea: CBD-based medication could reduce brain inflammation, ratcheting down a concussion’s debilitating symptoms.