With the Tokyo Olympic games recently wrapping up, you might be wondering what helps athletes reach peak performance. One thing is for sure, CBD is used by many of them. To be a top athlete, you have to deal with pain - both physical and mental. According to athletes’ own words, they feel CBD has helped them in both arenas.
This is a new and growing trend. Until 2018, CBD was banned by the World Anti Doping Agency. But since they’ve given this powerful supplement the green light, many athletes have made CBD an integral part of their wellness routine. From soccer to bobsledding, athletes are opening up about their own personal journeys with CBD. Here are a few of their stories.
Megan Rapinoe has recently become a household name. She’s an Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team star.
Her journey to CBD came from seeing how sports medicine was practiced in her field. On one hand, the authorities and regulating bodies are very strict on drugs, yet on the other she saw how strong, possibly addictive prescription medications were being prescribed with what seemed like reckless abandon.
“I also had a personal journey with prescription drugs, opiates and sleeping pills and all of that kind of stuff. Not that I ever abused it, but just the regularity with which it’s been handed out for athletes who aren’t sleeping well due to jet lag, sore muscles, or whatever,” she said.
And while for some it’s easy to take these kind of medicines, for others it can be deeply triggering and even dangerous. In Megan’s own family, her brother Brian struggled with addiction to hard drugs and was incarcerated for them. Having a more natural, non-addictive way of managing pain or stress, has until recently been out of the hands of the people we expect to be their very best.
"I wanted a healthier, more natural option for pain management, sleep aid, relaxation while flying, and general recovery," Megan said in an interview.
And in CBD, Megan found so many benefits, using it “throughout the day to help with pain and inflammation, stabilize her mood and get better sleep.”
She sees a change, saying that she’s “noticed a significant difference in my stress and anxiety levels when I am consistently using CBD products versus when I don't.”
But part of the reason Megan can benefit from CBD is the progressive position of her league, the NWSL. Not all sports leagues are as open-minded about alternatives. For example, the Women’s National Basketball Association put CBD on a list of banned substances. But it doesn’t stop all their athletes, like Sue Bird.
Meet the WNBA champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist, Sue Bird.
While her league forbids CBD, Sue Bird has found a workaround that allows her to use and benefit from it.
“I believe in CBD. Even though it is on the ban list for the WNBA, it is not for the Olympics so there are pockets of time where I can use it regularly.”
“I’ve seen the positive effects,” she said. “For me, it comes in the form of sleep, for the most part. There are definitely days when I’m feeling anxious or just need to calm down, I take it. But for the most part, I use it for sleep and it has been amazing.”
And there’s another use she has found for CBD aside from ingesting it - to use it topically. She uses it on her knee, which she says is “literally the knee of an 80-year-old,” due to being arthritic. For this, she had otherwise been instructed to use an anti-inflammatory medication, but then she heard that in light of COVID “maybe anti-inflammatories are bad right now because they suppress your immune system, so she was told to just go off it.”
She then used a stick with a CBD balm. "Now, I've been 'sticking' my knee like a madwoman. I'll do it before my workouts, like 30-45 minutes before, I do it at night. It's part of my after-shower routine now."
Sue hopes change is coming and is helping usher it in by being an active voice.
"I want to tell other athletes to chop down the stigma of CBD," Bird said. "It's amazing to talk to people with the old mindset and realize how much they just don't know."
Have you heard of someone who competes in both the summer and winter Olympics? Lolo Jones is one of the few athletes that you can see at both events! She is both an Olympic hurdler and bobsledder.
While bobsledding may look fun, it can leave you pretty banged up. “Three surgeries, multiple bobsled crashes... you know I need as much help as I can get with pain management and inflammation,” wrote Lolo on her Instagram about CBD.
We may think of them as the bastions of physical perfection, but it seems that Olympic athletes don’t always feel that way themselves. Just like Sue Bird feels that her knee is that of an 80 year old, Lolo also feels 80 from time to time.
“When I wake up in the morning, I feel like an 80-year-old sometimes. I’ve aged in dog years.”
And while Lolo is only 37 years young, as a pro athlete it means that she’s chosen to extend her career past the age many others wrap theirs up. So she’s looking for natural remedies to give her a competitive edge.
After the ban was lifted on CBD, she found a new source of hope saying, “I have done a ton of research on this, and I have tried out different ones because I’m a 37-year-old Olympian, I need all the help I can get.” she said. She’s found CBD helpful as a part of her wellness routine that allows her to extend her career and be a top performer.
Your Inner Olympian
Many athletes express that they turned to CBD as a more natural alternative for recovery, pain management, coping with stress, and better sleep. There’s a lot of excitement about having access to a natural alternative in a landscape where the traditional fix has been to prescribe harsh medications that can have side effects and be habit forming.
And while us mere mortals aren’t training like Olympians, that doesn't mean we don’t know what it's like to feel older than our years. Our bodies can ache and creak, insomnia can drain our energy, and our minds can be a merry-go-round of constant chatter.
Like the athletes who’ve shared their journeys with CBD, we too have the choice about how to manage these issues. In our case, luckily there are no league officials breathing down our necks forbidding us from accessing high quality, full-spectrum CBD. So channel your inner Olympian and see what CBD can do for you.