CBD for Athletes: Can Cannabidiol up Your Game?

Woman taking a breath while swimming

You’ve heard how CBD might be able to help people with serious chronic conditions or who are nearing the ends of their lives. Were you aware, however, that there’s significant scientific evidence backing up the benefits of CBD for athletes?

Here at CBGenius, we strive to deliver the science-backed benefits of CBD to the people who need it most, and we look to the latest cutting-edge CBD research for data on how this cannabinoid might be able to help our customers. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the most impressive potential benefits of CBD for athletes that science has discovered and let you in on the best ways that athletes can use CBD.

X-ray diagram of man with painful shoulder
Can CBD reduce inflammation and pain?

Inflammation Reduction May Be a Top Benefit of CBD for Athletes

Scientists still haven’t figured out exactly how CBD interacts with the human body, which is why some skeptics consider the health claims of CBD to be unproven. However, there are numerous scientific studies out there that fully substantiate some of the benefits of CBD, and the benefits of cannabidiol for epilepsy are widely considered to be so definitive that the FDA approved a CBD analogue as an anti-epileptic drug.

While CBD doesn’t interact significantly with the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors like most cannabinoids, it does appear to exert a potent anti-inflammatory effect. Specifically, a 2011 study found that CBD seems to reduce oxidative stress1. To understand exactly how this effect may reduce inflammation and help athletes, it’s necessary to understand more about what oxidative stress is and how it contributes to inflammation.

What Is Oxidative Stress?

Every oxygen atom in your body contains a number of electrons that together create a full set called a valence. Through the process of metabolism, the body naturally removes electrons from oxygen atoms, and these atoms then seek to refill their valences. Oxygen atoms with less-than-full valences are called free radicals, and these agents of destruction reduce the integrity of other atoms and contribute to cell death.

The body needs free radicals to promote tissue repair and fight off disease. However, environmental stressors, genetic conditions, and a variety of other factors can raise free radical counts in your body to dangerously high levels. Having too many free radicals in your body is called oxidative stress, and this oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation. While acute inflammation helps heal your body, chronic inflammation prevents tissues from healing, and it can contribute to the development of various long-term diseases.

What It All Means for Athletes

By reducing oxidative stress, CBD may be able to reduce inflammation, which could drastically improve recovery abilities in athletes. While the relationship between exercise and inflammation is highly controversial, it’s clear that working out too much or in the wrong way can contribute to inflammation in your body2.

After you endure a strenuous workout, it’s natural to experience a temporary increase in inflammation while your body repairs itself. If left unchecked, however, post-recovery inflammation could last longer than it should, and it could contribute to the development of chronic inflammatory conditions.

The purported antioxidant effects of CBD could help athletes recover from exercise faster, and this non-psychoactive cannabinoid could also prevent chronic exercise-related injuries like tendinitis, tennis elbow, and shin splints. If you already have chronic inflammatory conditions or injuries, CBD’s alleged antioxidant benefits could also help you heal and regain your ability to exercise or compete like you once did.

If it’s true that CBD exerts anti-inflammatory effects, the benefits of this cannabinoid would be different based on the route of administration. Vaping CBD, for instance, would cause an intense yet momentary systemic anti-inflammatory effect, ingesting CBD orally would cause a milder but longer-lasting full-body antioxidative effect, and applying CBD topically would cause a potent anti-inflammatory effect limited to the application site. Athletes may want to pursue all three routes of administration to achieve different effects.

Group of people running on cracked, dry ground
CBD’s athletic benefits are for everyone

CBD for Athletes: Other Benefits

Beyond reduction of oxidative stress, CBD may also have a variety of other benefits for athletes:

1. Stress Reduction

Exercise generally reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol throughout your body. When you exercise intensively, however, cortisol levels in your body can increase, which can impact your mental state, make you fatigued, and contribute to the development of chronic conditions.

The body has an endogenous cannabinoid system, which is usually called the endocannabinoid system for short. Essentially, the body creates its own cannabinoid analogues, and it uses these substances to regulate various vital processes.

Specifically, the endocannabinoid system appears to play a key role in managing the body’s cortisol levels3. While scientists aren’t certain about the exact mechanisms that CBD uses to interact with the endocannabinoid system4, if this phytocannabinoid boosts or streamlines the operation of the endocannabinoid system in any way, CBD could have the capacity to decrease exercise-related elevated cortisol levels.

2. Weight Loss

Your primary goal as an athlete might not be to lose weight, but attenuating your body’s use of energy is a big part of exercising effectively. If your body doesn’t use energy effectively, fat deposits will build up in your body, which can be a sign that you aren’t exercising to your fullest potential.

Conditions like metabolic syndrome can be disastrous for athletes, and this particular condition causes fat to build up in your abdominal region. Preliminary studies suggest that CBD may reduce the symptoms of metabolic disorder5, which means that this beneficial cannabinoid may also help prevent potentially deadly chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Further research in animal models suggests that cannabidiol may affect your appetite. One 2012 study found that CBD administration reduces overall food intake in rats6, and this effect may have a bearing on human subjects. The administrators of this study found these results to be intriguing enough to merit further research into the potential anti-obesity effects of cannabidiol.

3. Pain Reduction

We’ve already covered how CBD appears to reduce inflammation, and it’s established science that inflammation causes pain. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that the purported anti-inflammatory effects of CBD would also reduce systemic pain, which could be a lifesaver for professional athletes or exercise enthusiasts who are recovering from acute or chronic injuries.

To prepare the CBD analogue Sativex for review by the FDA, a variety of studies were ordered to determine the potential benefits of this synthetic alternative to cannabidiol. One study found that CBD had the potential to reduce the chronic pain associated with neuropathy and multiple sclerosis7, from which it’s reasonable to infer that CBD may also have the potential to reduce other types of pain.

The results of the Sativex trials are substantiated by another study that achieved similar results8. In this study, however, researchers achieved pain-reducing results with actual CBD instead of Sativex. It’s clear that more research needs to be done into the potential pain-reducing effects of cannabidiol, but initial results strongly indicate that CBD may have analgesic potential.

4. Improved Sleep Quality

Athletes who don’t get enough sleep can’t meet their fitness goals. Fatigue increases stress, and it reduces your ability to recover from exercise. Over the long term, lack of sleep can increase your chances of developing chronic diseases, which can permanently destroy your athletic dreams.

Scientific research into the effects of cannabidiol on sleep has found that rats administered CBD sleep longer and have better-quality sleep9. It’s important to note that some studies indicate opposite results, which just goes to show that more research into the effects of CBD is badly needed. Nonetheless, thousands of pieces of anecdotal testimony from people all over the world indicate that the calming effects of CBD may be beneficial for sleep.

Woman sweating on exercise machine
Can CBD help you go the extra mile?

CBD and Exercise: What Are the Benefits?

So far, we’ve covered how CBD may be able to generally help athletes in every aspect of their lives. However, does CBD also have the power to help athletes improve their exercise performance?

While some athletes may feel that psychoactive cannabinoids like THC improve their experience of exercising, just as many athletes contend that the mind-altering effects of this cannabinoid make them paranoid, fuzzy-headed, or less incentivized to achieve their exercise goals.

Unlike THC, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects. While CBD might produce a general state of relaxation, it does not cause any significantly mind-altering effects, which enables athletes to remain clear-headed while they exercise.

The potential stress-reducing, antioxidant, and sleep-promoting effects of CBD we’ve already covered may also help athletes gain the motivation to exercise and increase their performance. Reduced stress improves your ability to focus on exercising better for longer, and reducing oxidative stress allows you to exercise free from the pain caused by chronic injuries.

Additionally, getting quality sleep at night helps you face the day ready for anything. Therefore, athletes might choose to use CBD just prior to exercise or the night before a planned competitive event to improve their athletic performance.

Long-Term Benefits of CBD for Athletes

There’s a good reason you don’t see many professional athletes in their 50s. Even Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is seen as something of an oddity, and he’s only 41 years old.

Being an athlete takes a toll on your body. Repetitive motions, shocks to your bones and joints, and the other stresses of an athlete’s life often force these exercise-aficionados into retirement long before their time.

The benefits of CBD-rich hemp oil and CBD isolate may allow athletes to have longer, more productive careers. All the evidence suggests that regularly ingesting CBD oil may reduce the general wear and tear on an active body, which would improve comfort and performance during an athlete’s prime and prolong athletic careers while reducing chronic exercise-related injuries later in life.

While it might be a stretch to expect CBD to cure a linebacker’s traumatic brain injury, there’s no reason not to believe that this natural, hemp-based substance might have some legitimate value to offer athletes as they start winding down their careers and looking forward to pain-free retirement.

Even if you’ve exercised your entire life without knowing a thing about the benefits of CBD, it’s never too late to start. Using CBD now may reduce the symptoms of your chronic sports injuries, and it might even promote permanent healing.

Woman applying lotion to her hand
Topical CBD might be more effective for athletes

Unique Benefits of Topical CBD for Athletes

While most of the studies on the effects of CBD on exercise have been conducted using orally-administered CBD, topically-applied CBD may be more beneficial for athletes under certain circumstances. Athletes seeking the best possible results of CBD therapy should not avoid oral or other non-topical administration routes, but they should be aware of the potential exercise-specific benefits of topical CBD.

Not all types of topical CBD products deliver this cannabinoid optimally for exercise-related benefits. To effectively penetrate the multiple skin layers that protect underlying tissues, topical CBD formulations must be able to effectively harness the power of transdermal absorption.

While oil-based topicals do not effectively penetrate the skin, water-based topicals take full advantage of the principles of transdermal absorption to fully permeate the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis to reach underlying muscular and organ tissues. As water-based topicals penetrate these skin layers, the active ingredients they carry absorb into blood vessels, which carries these ingredients throughout the body in reduced concentrations.

How Transdermal Absorption Aids CBD Application

Since CBD is an oil, it needs a water-based carrier to effectively penetrate your skin. When mixed into a water-based formulation, CBD can move through your skin to reach underlying tissues. If CBD is not paired with a water-based formula, it will remain on the skin and provide negligible benefits.

While athletes may experience systemic pain, most types of athletic discomfort and injury are localized to specific parts of the body. Since orally administered CBD products affect each part of the body equally, these types of products would not be the most effective methods of treating localized athletic injuries.

Carefully calibrated water-based CBD formulas, on the other hand, penetrate the skin to deliver the purported anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of CBD directly to the affected area. If you strain your shoulder, for instance, you can apply a CBD lotion to that location directly, and if you tear your ACL, topically-applied CBD may optimize the healing process better than orally ingested cannabidiol.

Man using vape pen
Should athletes try vaping CBD?

How Should Athletes Use CBD?

Athletes seeking relief from exercise-related inflammation and pain may receive the greatest benefit from CBD by applying this cannabinoid by several routes of administration. While topical administration of CBD should be an athlete’s first line of defense, the detrimental effects of intensive exercise may also be relieved by pulmonary or oral ingestion methods.

For instance, scientific evidence indicates that orally ingested CBD may reduce systemic inflammation and stress, which could potentially increase overall athletic performance and well-being. On the other hand, topical administration of CBD may be more effective in relieving localized pain and inflammation. In conjunction, these two administration routes could provide greater relief than either method of administration could apply on its own.

The inhalation of vaporized CBD may also aid athletes. Pulmonary administration has the most immediate effect of any CBD administration route, and vaping CBD may help athletes recover from the immediate aftereffects of exercise. Since the effects of pulmonary administration of CBD are also briefer in duration than any other administration routes, athletes seeking long-term effects should supplement CBD vaporization with other routes of administration.

Recommended CBD Dosage for Athletes

Scientific and regulatory authorities have not yet determined an ideal dose of CBD. Some clinical trials suggest that doses of 250mg or more at a time may be appropriate, but most experts suggest that lower doses may be just as effective.

For athletes, the best way to determine optimal CBD dosage is to experiment. Research indicates that it is not possible to overdose on CBD10, and this substance’s remarkably mild side effect profile does not increase in severity with heightened application dosage.

As an athlete, you may want to start with a dose of CBD as low as 5mg, and you can then increase or decrease your dose based on the results you experience. Until science determines the ideal dosage for CBD, there is no objectively right or wrong dose of this substance for athletes to consume.

When Should Athletes Use CBD?

Athletes can use CBD at any stage of the exercise process, but CBD will have slightly different effects depending on when it is administered:

  • Prior to exercise: Administering CBD prior to exercise may reduce systemic inflammation and stress, which would help the body prepare for increased activity
  • During exercise: Administering CBD during exercise may increase athletic performance by reducing the perception of pain and mitigating the oxidative stress generated by strenuous exercise
  • After exercise: Administering CBD after exercise may assist in the recovery process, and topical administration of CBD is especially indicated in this context
CBGenius Athletic Formulation CBD Lotion
The best place to get CBD for Athletes is here at CBGenius.net

Where Should Athletes Get CBD?

You have a variety of options for sourcing either isolate CBD or CBD-rich hemp oil:

1. Recreational or Medical Cannabis Shops

Depending on where you live, your state may provide residents and visitors with access to legalized cannabis. Most recreational and medical cannabis shops in states that have sanctioned cannabis use carry CBD products, but these products usually also include high levels of THC. It may be impossible to find low-THC CBD products at these retail establishments, and there is no way to guarantee the quality and potency of CBD products sold in recreational or medical marijuana dispensaries.

2. General Market Retailers

General market CBD sales continue to grow at a breathtaking pace, and a rapidly increasing number of vendors around the country now sell cannabidiol products. However, most general market retailers are not experts on CBD, and they may not stock the best CBD products on the market.

3. Online at CBGenius.net

Here at CBGenius, we offer the best CBD products that science can devise. Inspired by our in-depth research into the alleged athletic benefits of CBD, we created our Athletic Formulation CBD Lotion specifically with the performance need of athletes in mind. We ship our products to all 50 states, and we’re always standing by to answer any questions you may have.

CBD for Athletes: Summing It Up

Cutting-edge scientific research indicates that CBD may be beneficial for people in all walks of life, but it appears that athletes stand to benefit even more from CBD’s purported beneficial effects than sedentary individuals. The lifestyle choices of athletes expose their bodies to increased stresses, and the effects of cannabidiol may be able to mitigate these stresses and increase athletic performance in short-term or long-term contexts.

While research into the effects of CBD is still in its infancy in many ways, the evidence is compelling that the benefits of CBD for athletes bear further consideration. We strongly recommend that athletes try CBD as a tool for reducing inflammation, improving performance, and reducing recovery times. As more scientific data on CBD for athletes becomes available, rest assured that CBGenius.com will remain the definitive source on this fascinating potential application of cannabidiol.


  1. Cannabidiol as an Emergent Therapeutic Strategy for Lessening the Impact of Inflammation on Oxidative Stress
  2. Chronic Low-grade Inflammation after Exercise: Controversies
  3. Endogenous cannabinoid signaling is essential for stress adaptation
  4. The Endocannabinoid System, Cannabinoids, and Pain
  5. The potential use of cannabidiol in the therapy of metabolic syndrome
  6. Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns.
  7. Sativex: clinical efficacy and tolerability in the treatment of symptoms of multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain.
  8. Meta-analysis of cannabis based treatments for neuropathic and multiple sclerosis-related pain.
  9. Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats.
  10. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies