We reviewed the best CBD products for athletes and explain everything you need to know about using this beneficial compound (Cannabidiol) to boost athletic performance and recovery. Here, we will take a look at the role of CBD in sports and its potential benefits for athletes. Higher potencies and different means of delivery are driving innovation.
Best CBD Oil Products for Athletes and Pro Athletes: Boost Athletic Performance and Recovery
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She has been reporting on CBD and cannabis for over five years. In addition to CBD and cannabis, her work also covers mental health, reproductive health, and social justice. She’s a regular writer for Healthline and PsychCentral, and has been published in The Washington Post, Complex, Greatist, HealthyWay, and more. She’s passionate about making empathetic, science-based health information accessible to more people.
- Leafreport’s mission is to provide accurate, objective, and valuable content for CBD, which is why we’re transparent about our review process and how we rate products and brands. We may receive compensation. Here’s how we make money.
- Our review is consumer-focused only and we do not check or take a stand regarding medical effects.
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- Please advise your physician prior to each use of CBD.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating substance that is extracted from cannabis and hemp plants. It’s quite a popular ingredient in health products, and you’ll find that there are plenty of CBD products specifically for athletes. This is because many athletes use CBD for recovery and performance.
Whether you’re a keen gymmer, a running enthusiast, or a professional athlete, you might enjoy adding CBD to your daily routine. Research suggests that CBD can be used for pain, inflammation, and anxiety, all of which can affect athletes.
For the most part, CBD is not banned by athletic organizations. Back in 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances. However, THC – which is the substance that can make you intoxicated – is banned by most organizations. Full-spectrum CBD products contain a tiny amount of THC, and although it’s unlikely, it’s possible to test positive for THC after using a full-spectrum CBD product.
As always, we advise that you talk to your doctor before using CBD. Professional athletes should also talk to their coaches before using any new health product.
Because there are so many CBD products out there, it can be difficult to figure out which products you should purchase. Because of this, we’ve compiled a list of the best CBD products for athletes.
How we chose
We base our recommendations on the price, lab results, hemp quality, transparency, customer service, brand reputation, and other criteria. We’ve selected these CBD products for athletes from a list of more than 3000 products from over 150 CBD brands.
We use an unbiased ranking system to rate brands and products out of 100 points. Check out this page for more information on how we choose our products.
Our articles are written and reviewed by a team of cannabis journalists and medical practitioners who are experts in CBD.
CBD for Athletes & Sports
Athletes are always looking for better, more natural ways to boost their performance and recover from intense training sessions. Current options for post-workout pain relief and recovery are more harmful than beneficial. Some are even downright addictive! So when an all-natural product like CBD shows up with big promises for athletes, it turns many heads. Up to the point that even the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances in 2018. Now, many have tried CBD and consistently incorporate it into their wellness routines.
But is it as effective as people claim? Keep reading if you’re an athlete and curious about what this compound can do for you. Here, we will take a look at the role of CBD in sports and its potential benefits for athletes.
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid found in both hemp and cannabis plants. Unlike its sister cannabinoid, THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning it won’t get you high. According to the World Health Organization, it’s also generally safe and well-tolerated by most people. Research on the uses of CBD for athletes is still ongoing, but the available studies all point to its potential role in alleviating various conditions.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF CBD FOR ATHLETES?
MAY REDUCE PAIN & INFLAMMATION
Pain and inflammation are a part of every athlete’s bodily responses. While they can have positive effects on training, if they become too severe, they can prevent recovery and limit performance. CBD may be the answer to this problem as those who have tried it swear by its effectiveness in relieving their discomfort.
Recent studies on CBD for athletes confirm its ability to reduce pain and inflammation caused by nerve and tissue damage. A possible explanation for this can be the interaction between CBD and CBD receptors in the brain which signals the immune system and more effectively modulate the inflammatory response to intense workout sessions.
A POSSIBLE HOLISTIC REPLACEMENT FOR NSAIDS & OPIOIDS
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have been athletes’ go-to pain-relieving remedies for a long time. Simple medications like Advil are not as safe as we once though. Reports show that they can cause heart problems and renal failure. Opioids are even worse! While they mange to reduce the pain significantly, they are very addictive and can cause fatal overdoses.
Those searching for healthier alternatives found that CBD can replace NSAIDs for athletes. Natural products like CBD Tincture Oils can be much safer than synthetic solutions since they are non-addictive. Some new studies on CBD in sports suggest that CBD may be able to help athletes quit opioid addictions.
MANAGING SLEEP & STRESS
Getting enough sleep is crucial for every athlete’s recovery and performance process. On the other hand, there may be nights when you need to stay awake longer than your normal routine allows. Studies show that lower doses of CBD for athletes may help in inducing sleep, while higher doses can help keep you awake.
One of the causes of sleep difficulties is stress. Studies show that CBD may help in potentially reducing anxiety to then help people achieve a more restful sleep, easier. This benefit of CBD for athletes can also be helpful in stressful situations. The right dose of CBD before a big event may be effective in calming the mind and improving focus.
MUSCLE RECOVERY & BONE HEALTH
The potential anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects of CBD for athletes can also help with muscle recovery. Intensive workout sessions can tear your muscle tissues and cause inflammation. This inflammation can help you build stronger muscles. On the other hand, too much of it can have adverse effects. A CBD muscle cream might be able to balance this out and help your sore muscles recover at a sustainable rate.
Another way CBD can benefits athletes is with bone structure. Studies show that CBD may help bone fractures heal and improve bone deposition. This benefit of CBD in sports is promising for athletes who are more prone to bone injuries.
A SOLUTION FOR GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Inflammation can also happen in the intestines, cause discomfort, and prevent athletes from performing at their best. Here is where the potential anti-inflammatory properties of CBD for athletes come into play again. By interacting with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the intestines, CBD may be able to fix these gastrointestinal issues, recover the intestines’ permeability and rid you of the inflammation-induced gut problems.
FAMOUS ATHLETES WHO USE CBD
Many use CBD to level up their wellness routines. Some of the most famous athletes endorsing CBD are professional golfer Rickie Fowler, NFL player Rob Gronkowski, and MMA fighter Nate Diaz. NBA player Klay Thompson, heavyweight boxer Shannon Briggs, and soccer player Megan Rapinoe are other professional athletes who use CBD in sports.
TRY OUT CBD FOR YOURSELF!
Considering the potential benefits of CBD for athletes, this natural substance can be a safer solution for recovery and better performance. Many athletes have already jumped on the CBD train, and its time you do too! Make sure to check in with your doctor beforehand and start with low doses so your body can acclimate itself to it. Try out different types of CBD to figure out which one suits your needs better. You can visit Envy CBD’s shop to choose from a vast collection of 100% pesticide-free, broad spectrum CBD products with superior quality.
If you’re an athlete and already using CBD, leave us a comment and tell us how it has helped you!
Next-Generation CBD Products for Athletes
Higher potencies and different means of delivery are driving innovation.
Within the ever-expanding overall CBD market, runners and other athletes are increasingly a focus. This emphasis makes sense, when you consider that many of the touted benefits of CBD—pain relief, better sleep, faster recovery, lower inflammation—are of special interest to people who push their bodies hard. Companies are targeting athletes with higher-potency versions of typical CBD products and different ways to deliver CBD.
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First, a refresher: CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of more than 100 related compounds called cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. CBD doesn’t produce the high caused by the other most well-known cannabinoid, THC. CBD products sold online and in retail establishments are made from hemp, which by definition is a cannabis plant containing no more than .3 percent THC. As of last year’s farm bill, hemp is no longer classified as a controlled substance under federal law. For a detailed background read on CBD, see this article.
Now, on to the new wave of CBD products for athletes, grouped by the type of innovation. These are all products I’ve tested since writing The Athlete’s Guide to CBD.
Higher Potency Within Typical Products
Two of the main CBD product types are oral tinctures and topical solutions. Tinctures typically come in a 300-milliliter bottle, or just about 1 ounce. You use the supplied dropper to place some of the tincture under your tongue, then keep the tincture in your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing. (If someone says “CBD oil,” they’re talking about a tincture.) Topicals come in many consistencies—thick salve, oil, cream, lotion, roll-on, and so on—and in many sizes. Topicals are applied to achy body parts in the hope of delivering targeted pain relief.
When CBD really started hitting the mainstream in 2018, a typical tincture contained 300 to 600 milligrams of CBD. That equals about 30 full-dropper servings in a typical bottle, meaning that one drop of a 600-milligram tincture contains 20 milligrams of CBD. As customers reported benefits from larger daily amounts of CBD, manufacturers responded by making more concentrated tinctures. You can now find 30-milligram tinctures containing 2,000 or more milligrams of CBD; one dropper of an 1,800-milligram-strength tincture provides 60 milligrams of CBD.
Below are three high-potency tinctures I’ve had good results from. (“Results” for me include improved sleep and less overall creakiness from being a 55-year-old who has run more than 110,000 miles over the last 40 years and who is training for a 50-miler.) I appreciate the higher-potency offerings because I’ve gravitated toward a daily CBD sweet spot of 30 to 60 milligrams. If your standard level is lower, the higher-potency tinctures mean you can take a fraction of a dropperful and not have to restock as frequently.
The same more-might-be-better approach is being applied to topicals. A year ago, a 2-ounce container typically contained 200 to 400 milligrams of CBD. Now the same size product might contain 1,000 or more milligrams, and smaller containers contain 500 milligrams or more. The two topicals above are good examples of the extra-strength products now targeted to athletes.
Altering CBD Within Typical Products
The CBD molecule is fat-soluble and relatively large. It doesn’t travel efficiently within the body’s mostly-water environment. Some estimates claim that only 8 to 10 percent of the CBD you consume in a tincture survives metabolism to be available within your body.
To address this problem, some companies try to change how the CBD molecule moves through your body. In extremely simplified terms, different processes are applied to CBD to shrink its particle size. Theoretically, creating these nano particles results in greater absorption. Tinctures made this way usually contain 300 milligrams of CBD per bottle, but, it’s claimed, provide as much or more net CBD as conventional tinctures of higher potency.
As with so many things in the CBD world, these claims are so far supported more by anecdote than vigorous clinical studies. My anecdote is that I felt a more immediate effect—mostly of calm and mental clarity—from the nano products below than from most other tinctures.
Another approach is to create products that contain a CBD derivative. A little science: CBD and THC aren’t present in the cannabis plant. Instead, the plant makes acidic precursors, known as CBDa and THCa, which become their better-known form when the plant is dried or processed.
A Virginia-based company, ChlyoCure, binds CBDa with magnesium to create a topical cream. This process results in a product that appears to be 1,000 times more potent than traditional CBD topicals, says Scott Palmer, M.D., one of the company’s founders and a team physician for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox.
ChyloCure hasn’t yet produced lab results proving the claim of greater effective potency. In my experiment of one last winter, it worked. Running on icy, slanted roads made me chronically sore and achy. The ChyloCure cream provided relief I didn’t feel when using conventional CBD topicals.
Adding CBD to Other Product Types
Floyd’s of Leadville has been a leader in creating new athlete-focused products. The brand, founded by Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping, unveiled recovery bars over the summer. Each bar contains 25 milligrams. The bars’ taste and texture are pleasantly similar to a homemade nut butter/seed bar.
Ashlee’s Powers is a new CBD brand created by Ashlee Powers, a 34:26 10K runner based in Los Angeles. Its recovery bar contains 20 milligrams of CBD as well as collagen peptides and spirulina. It has a gooier, more chocolate flavor than the Floyd’s bar. Both taste good enough to eat for their own sake.
Same with this honey by Grassroots Harvest, each teaspoon of which contains approximately 15 milligrams of CBD. I found the cannabis flavor added a nice, earthy undertone. Given the price, this is a honey to be used selectively rather than eaten by the spoonful post-long run.
Incorporating CBD into liquids that athletes typically drink is a relatively new endeavor. Sometimes there’s a metallic or off taste that distracts from simply enjoying what you’re drinking. Of the noncaffeinated ones below, PLNT’s juice drinks most taste like something I’d want to drink if they didn’t contain CBD.
If you want caffeine with your CBD, there’s coffee from Willie’s Remedy. (That’s Willie as in music legend Willie Nelson.) The brand also offers green and black tea. The coffee has 240 milligrams of CBD per 8-ounce bag, the loose-leaf teas contain 300 milligrams per 3-ounce container. In all the Willie’s Remedy drinks, the cannabis flavor adds a nice element to the expected taste rather than overwhelming it.
A non-edible approach is to add CBD to skincare products. We’re all supposed to wear sunscreen; this one by Divios, with an SPF of 30, isn’t greasy, smells nice, and contains 240 milligrams of CBD. Finally, there’s this on-skin approach, a roughly 2”-by-3” patch from Hath that transmits 35 milligrams over the course of several hours. The patches I tested stayed on during even the sweatiest summer runs.
Scott Douglas Contributing Writer Scott is a veteran running, fitness, and health journalist who has held senior editorial positions at Runner’s World and Running Times.