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CBD For Athletes: Is It Legal and How Does It Help Me?

cbd for athletes

Athletes always have two modes — the active, exercise portion and the recovery period after. Taking CBD for athletes benefits you during both of these modes, making it the perfect addition to your daily routine.


CBD has many wellness benefits, from soothing aches to keeping you focused to encouraging better, deeper sleep. CBD also won’t get you high. Because of this, many athletes turn to CBD to improve their overall performance.


So what exactly is CBD? What type of CBD product should I use? And is it legal? We have all of the answers to these common questions from athletes. You’ll be back on track in no time!



What is Cannabidiol (CBD)? 

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant. Hemp is part of the cannabis plant family, alongside its sister plant, marijuana. The hemp plant has over 100 known cannabinoids, with high concentrations of CBD and low amounts of THC. Hemp also contains many terpenes and flavonoids that give the plant its unique flavors and aromas.


CBD has been a stand-out compound in hemp due to the positive impact it has on our body’s endocannabinoid system. CBD can support our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps our body’s overall balance and well-being, known as homeostasis.


The ECS has receptors throughout our body, including the nervous, immune, and digestive systems. CBD interacts with these receptors so that it affects that it impacts our body and mind.



man training with a medicine ball



Are There Benefits to CBD for Athletes?

Many of CBD’s benefits to our body and mind are especially impactful for athletes. Since CBD is naturally occurring and non-psychoactive, athletes can use CBD without harming their body or getting the negative side effects of being “high.” Here are the most common benefits and effects of CBD:


Soothes Physical Discomfort

No matter how experienced an athlete you are, active people know that injuries happen. You can get sore, and your muscles need rest. Some athletes turn to CBD to help boost recovery from tough workouts.


CBD has therapeutic properties, meaning it will help soothe joint and muscle soreness. Products like CBD lotions, muscle rubs or salves are quite popular for athletes after a tough workout or busy day!


Promotes Focus

CBD can also help us let go of negative, nervous, stressed, or upset thoughts. CBD encourages creativity and focus, giving us a clear mind. You’ll feel much more determined and inspired after you take CBD, taking away any self-doubt you were previously feeling.


Improves Sleep

Sometimes it’s hard for athletes to take a break. It’s always go, go, go with very little time for rest! When you’re told to get rest or recover, it’s difficult to truly lay down and rest knowing you’re missing that CrossFit class or soccer game.


CBD can help put you in a more relaxed state for a better night’s sleep. A lot of people take CBD before bed to promote better and deeper sleep. You’ll wake up the next day feeling rejuvenated and well-rested. Getting more sleep can lead to faster recovery!


Reduces Upset Stomach

CBD is often used to minimize the side effects of being sick or ill. CBD can regulate your appetite and keep you active. It’s obviously tough to work out when you’re not feeling your best, so CBD might give you the boost you need before you step into the gym or hit the pavement.



Does CBD Affect Your Athletic Performance?

Worried about taking CBD before joining your friends for a basketball game? Luckily, CBD doesn’t produce any mind-altering effects and you should have no problem taking it at any time of the day.


CBD has very few side effects and is typically well-tolerated by most people. The most commonly reported side effects of taking CBD are minor and can include:


  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Slight drowsiness
  • Mild diarrhea


If you’re worried about how you will personally respond to CBD, try using CBD the day before your workout. Monitor how your body responds, which will give you a better idea of how you will respond to taking CBD during your workout.



Is CBD A Banned Substance for Athletes?

When it comes to professional sports, CBD is an interesting case. Even though it doesn’t get you high, it can sometimes be seen as “performance-enhancing,” giving some athletes an advantage due to their reduced soreness and heightened mood.


The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the use and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products across the United States. As long as the hemp or CBD products don’t contain over 0.3% THC, it is completely legal to use. Any products containing over the legal limit are considered marijuana, which is still illegal federally and in nearly all professional sports leagues.


Professional Sports

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) took CBD off its banned substances list in 2018. However, some full-spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, which could result in a positive drug test for athletes. Since then, major sports leagues have reacted in a variety of ways.


  • NFL: All cannabis products are on the list of prohibited substances, but CBD isn’t named specifically. And players can test positive for THC at a 35 ng/ml threshold, more than double the amount in 2014.
  • NBA: CBD is also not specifically mentioned in the NBA, but many athletes avoid it since it’s considered a cannabis product, which is still banned. However, some athletes have come forward to advocate for CBD.
  • NHL: The National Hockey League has never banned CBD or cannabis use in general. Athletes are not encouraged to use cannabis products, and players who test positive for cannabinoids undergo a drug test by NHL-approved doctors.
  • MLB: There are no regularly scheduled drug tests, although marijuana is a banned substance. The league has never established any ruling on CBD specifically, but players most likely won’t have any issue using it.
  • MLS: Major League Soccer players are allowed to use CBD. Marijuana, on the other hand, is banned. So athletes should choose CBD products that don’t have any THC, including CBD isolates or broad-spectrum.


When it comes to your local leagues and teams, you might have to ask if they have any regulations regarding CBD. It will most likely not be a problem, but it never hurts to find out!



bald man kiteboarding in ocean



How to Use CBD As An Athlete

Since CBD is legal to manufacture, sell, purchase, and use, the marketplace has exploded drastically. You’ll find a large amount of CBD products available for just about every personal preference and need. When it comes to exercising, a few CBD products stand out as beneficial for athletes.



Pure CBD oil is perhaps the most common and versatile option for athletes that want to use CBD. Hollyweed’s CBD oil is great because it also contains hemp seed oil, a “superfood” with an abundance of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that can boost your health.


CBD oil can be taken sublingually or orally, meaning you drop it under your tongue or ingest it directly. Although the effects typically kick in faster when you take CBD sublingually, they don’t last as long as swallowing it directly.


A lot of athletes add CBD oil to their smoothies and protein shakes. All you have to do is add it to the mixture and shake it up! You can incorporate CBD oil into many different meals and recipes to add a solid boost to your diet.


CBD Flower

Smoking CBD flower is a popular choice for athletes since you can pick from various strains that have more specific effects on your mind and body. Try Sativa strains in the morning to feel energized and inspired to get moving or smoke Indica strains at night to feel relaxed and get a more impactful rest.


The effects from smoking (or vaping) CBD flower usually kick in right away. Inhaling smoke or vapors is one of the most efficient and fastest ways to enjoy the benefits of CBD. Your body can absorb more of the CBD when you smoke it compared to every other method!


CBD Topicals

CBD topicals are great for athletes looking for external relief and treatment. Products CBD salves are highly concentrated, allowing you to target specific areas of soreness or aches during your post-workout recovery routine. What makes both of these CBD topicals so great is that they can provide generalized relief by penetrating deep into the muscle and skin tissues to help boost recovery.


For example, if your calf is sore or tight after leg day, apply CBD salve in the affected areas. Gently rub the salve into your calf, and the CBD will interact with the receptors under your skin almost immediately. Feel free to apply as much as necessary to alleviate any discomfort and soreness!


CBD Bath Bombs

Looking for all-over relaxation and relief? Toss a CBD bath bomb into a warm bath, slide in, and submerge into a fizzy bath full of colorful, comforting water. You’ll feel the CBD melting away your stress and smoothing your skin as you mentally escape for the night into a tropical island oasis.


CBD Edibles

If you are looking for a quick snack after a workout, try CBD honey sticks or CBD gummies! With all-natural ingredients, these healthy snacks provide a delicious and tasty CBD boost. You’ll feel all of the fantastic benefits of CBD combined with the yummy flavors and taste.



Final Thoughts – CBD For Athletes

CBD might be in the gray area for professional athletes, but most of us are free to use it for wellness benefits to improve our performance. CBD can soothe discomfort, speed up recovery, and help us maintain a more consistent sleeping schedule.


There is also a huge variety of CBD products to choose from! CBD for athletes is growing more and more popular over the years, and it’s not hard to see why.


Many athletes see improved performance and faster recovery after training, while others simply feel better thanks to better focus and less negative thoughts. No matter your reason for taking CBD, there’s a product out there that will inspire a better workout or resting period!

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