How CBD Helps Endurance Athletes
Pain during endurance training & racing is a given but there’s often a different kind of pain and discomfort that shows up to tell you to slow down or event STOP.
It appears in the form of inflammation.
Inflammation is the #1 source of pain – and it uses pain, stiffness and immobility to send the message it wants you to do things differently.
Inflammation is the result of your body’s immune system kicking into high gear to respond to an injury or infection. As a result, the damaged cells release chemicals (including histamine, bradykinin, and prostaglandins) that cause blood vessels to leak fluid into the tissues, causing swelling. And while the inflammation does help isolate the tissue and thereby quarantine the problem, it also causes pain.
The common “go-to “for helping alleviate the pain with most endurance athletes is often an over-the-counter (OTC) drug touting anti-inflammatory effects. Otherwise known NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), over 17 million Americans take these drugs on a daily basis. And among endurance athletes who put their bodies through the ringer on a regular basis, the percentage of those regularly taking OTC drugs is extremely high.
With endurance athletes, regular use of NSAIDs can lead to even greater compounded problems. For example, acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common issue encountered in over 34% of ultramarathoners. NSAIDs are through to contribute to AKI and yet between 35%-75% of ultramarathoners ingest them during competition. Research found that many of these competitors (about 44%) had creatinine levels high enough to indicate the onset of AKI after running 50 miles. But the incidence was particularly high among runners who had taken ibuprofen. They were found to be about 18% more likely to have developed acute kidney injury than racers who did not take any NSAIDs.
Twenty years of research and countless studies have proven the anti-inflammatory benefits of phytocannabinoids and terpenoids, both of which are included in today’s full-spectrum CBD supplements. Better yet, these plant-based cannabinoids utilize different mechanisms in an athlete’s body to product the desired anti-inflammatory results we need to keep up with our training and recovery, without the negative side effects that come from using NSAIDs.
CBD works with your body’s innate Endocannabinoid System to release neurotransmitter molecules that suppress the inflammation mechanisms and thereby reduce pain and allow the tissues to heal faster. CBD has shown significant SOX-2 enzyme blockage, which is the key to naturally reducing inflammation in one’s body.
Training day, after day, after day, a key aspect of endurance life, requires your body to be resilient. To maintain a resilient body there are 8 areas of endurance life you must manage, nurture and prioritize. We call it the endurance octagon.
As you well know, effectively managing these areas is critical to being a successful endurance athlete. When any one area gets too out of balance it has a negative effect on all the rest. So while we may manage them separately, they are all interrelated.
It also shows that CBD can play a significant role in helping keep at least 6 areas in balance and to help target pain. The 6 areas are:
Reduces Mental Stress and Anxiety
- CBD has shown to reduce anxiety and modulate the same systems in the brain as prescription anti-anxiety medications.
- CBD is known to be one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory remedies.
Aids Injury Recovery
- Approved by W.A.D.A. as safe to use, athletes around the globe are now using CBD to treat injuries.
- CBD works to maintain homeostasis in one’s body, which helps regulate your ability to naturally unwind and fall asleep.
- CBD plays an enormous role in regulating and stabilizing the immune system which enhances the body’s ability to quickly and efficiently recover from physical exertion.
- CBD has been shown to effectively relieve pain in both muscles and joints by reducing inflammation and working with your body’s endocannabinoid system.
How CBD Helps The Athlete’s Body
CBD Is An Adaptogen
One of the main purposes of endurance training is to stress your body such that it adapts to a higher level of performance. Ad adaptogen is defined as something that helps the body adapt to stress. Though CBD isn’t yet officially classified as an adaptogen, several studies are ongoing to determine how CBD acts as an adaptogen in the body. That means it helps the body adapt to exercise, which is a form of stress – good stress – in and of itself.
The most effective workout plan carefully balances training stress and active recovery; in its role as an apoptogenic compound, CBD makes it easier to walk this fine line.
CBD Reduces Stress
Taking things a step further, CBD reduces existing stress. It may even reduce the risk of overtraining syndrome and the central nervous system exhaustion that accompanies it.
Conversely, CBD also allows for a greater stress tolerance. That means you can train harder and bounce back faster without getting burned out. All in all, the benefits are pretty impre3ssive. Keep reading to learn more about how they happen behind the scenes.
CBD Improves Fat Metabolism
As an endurance athlete, your training probably already promotes increased fat oxidation and better glycogen storage. You may even train fasted to really boost things. CBD simply accentuates this, which means improved endurance and a stabler mood both on and off the trail. And if you can stay in fat burning mode during low and moderate intensity exercise, you’ll have much more fast-burning fuel left for the really intense stuff. The CBD molecule itself seems to be engineered for endurance.
Though the mechanisms used here are complex, one way CBD may promote fat oxidation is through the activation of brown adipose tissue, or “brown fat”, which is more metabolically active than regular fat stores. Another plus? Higher brown fat levels are good for weight loss.
CBD Reduces Inflammation & Free Radicals
CBD’s ability to reduce inflammatory markers is clearly good for exercise recovery. By boosting the endocannabinoid system, CBD helps immune cells works efficiently to target the right areas. This means lower overall inflammation and better immunity exactly where it counts.
In addition, CBD is so effective for keeping free radicals in check that the US government has a patent on the subject. Remember that free radicals aren’t entirely bad; in appropriate amounts, they act as a helpful signals of stress and friction. CBD helps keep free radical levels in the right range, keeping your training response stays strong.
CBD Improves Mitochondrial Health
This means good things for your endurance. You may have heard that mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, but did you know that every mitochondrion contains endocannabinoid receptors?
As it turns out, they do! That’s why CBD is able to improve mitochondrial health, which in turn has beneficial downstream effects on fat burning and other qualities we’ve already mentioned. CBD may even improve mitochondrial density, which is a great marker of athletic endurance.
CBD Improves Insulin Sensitivity
People with diabetes were among the first to notice that CBD can reduce blood sugar – some actually see such improvement that they’re able to get off exogenous insulin.
But CBD’s ability to regulate blood sugar isn’t just good for those with diabetes. This same quality is great for athletes. After all, blood sugar regulation stems from improvements in the body’s response to insulin, also called insulin sensitivity. With improved insulin sensitivity comes the chance for gradual improvements in body composition. That’s because insulin sensitive muscles are more efficient at both intra-workout fate burning and post-workout growth.
CBD Is A Neurprotectant Which May Help Protect Against Sports Injuries
While brain health is obviously important to those in contact sports, endurance athletes can stand to benefit, too. CBD’s neuroprotective qualities may guard against concussions and other head trauma. And if a concussion were to occur, CBD also promotes neuroplasticity, fostering the growth of healthy new neural pathways.
Endurance athletes who are at risk for concussions, like competitive cyclist, may even want to consider taking CBD pre-race as a preventative measure. If nothing else, the CBD will likely increase fat oxidation and improve your endurance a little!
CBD Reduces Pain
This effect is one of CBD’s most powerful, and also one of the main reasons our customers take the plant compound! CBD’s especially promising to athletes, as it reduces inflammation and pain without dampening the training response like aspirin or NSAIDS would. That makes it good for both sports injuries and the more generalized trauma of intense workouts. Athletes who routinely take CBD are reporting less injuries, less joint pain, and less muscle soreness in general.
Overall, CBD presents a promising chance to boost your athletic performance. Of the many factors that impact endurance, CBD improves many of them: it speeds recovery and improves mental resilience; it effectively reduces pain, inflammation and the risk of injury, and it even promotes good sleep. And while it may not directly improve hydration, or nutrition, its effects on fat oxidation and leptin levels may make it easier to eat better!