Do Pro Athletes & Fighters Really Use CBD for Post-Training Recovery?

CBD supplements are becoming increasingly popular in the sports world. Tough workouts and physically demanding activities put the body under a lot of stress and can leave athletes with inflammation, stiffness, and even pain. The good news is that these are often signs of the body repairing itself – building itself up to be even stronger than before.

The even better news is that CBD may make the post-training recovery process a little more bearable, which we will discuss in more detail below.

The Farm Bill, passed in December 2018, created a CBD wave bigger than ever before. CBD products were suddenly welcomed by a huge part of society, be it parents, teachers, students, or even celebrities.

With the green evolution of CBD, more athletes also started to confess their love for CBD. Those who are physically active and aim to maintain a healthy lifestyle are using CBD as part of their daily regime, and some pro athletes and fighters are including CBD as part of their overall training regimes.

CBD in Sports

In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed cannabidiol (CBD) from the list of prohibited substances for professional athletes. The permitted use of CBD in training and international competition demonstrated a major shift in policy and marked relief for many athletes.


WADA sets anti-doping standards for a vast range of sports worldwide, but not every amateur and professional athletic body implements WADA guidelines. However, the acceptance of CBD by the organization is the main reason athletes are openly using and discussing the use of CBD.

What Pro Athletes & Fighters Are Using CBD?

A small but ever-growing number of pro athletes and fighters have caught onto the CBD trend and are sharing their experiences publicly. Not long ago, CBD was a banned substance, and using it could have gotten athletes into a lot of trouble. But this all changed in 2018.

Now, you will find elite athletes from all sports arenas who are supporters of CBD – some are even working hard to further the legality and understanding of the cannabinoid.

Former pro-cyclist Floyd Landis got off opioids thanks to CBD. Record-setting strongman Eddy Hall thanks CBD for recovery on his Youtube channel. And pro golfer Bubba Watson promotes the use of CBD despite PGA tour warnings.

You can also find plenty of MMA fighters promoting the use of CBD for recovery. Bas Rutten and Nate Diaz are two of the most well-known fighters advocating for the use of CBD because it helps with some of the main problems fighters face on a regular basis, such as pain, inflammation, injuries, and overall anxiety and stress.

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Pro tennis player Julie Anthony, NFL star Tatum Bell, pro boxer Shannon Briggs, NBA player Al Harrington, and mixed martial arts pro Steve Cantwell are other examples of athletes who support and promote the use of CBD in the sports world.

Reasons Pro Athletes & Fighters Use CBD for Post-Training Recovery

CBD can be used in a few different ways. It can be taken as capsules, droplets, cream, lotion, ointment, or even infused in food or drinks.

Previously, CBD was primarily used as a nutritional supplement, but now it’s also being used by pro athletes and fighters to increase performance, speed up the body’s recovery process, and optimize muscle functions.

Here are several ways CBD could help with post-training recovery.

CBD May Help Speed up Recovery

One key thing that the body needs to do to expedite recovery is to slow down an overactive inflammatory response. This is why athletes get sports massages, ice injuries, and use compression tape.

Since CBD has the potential to help with inflammation, as per this 2012 study, it may be able to help the body heal quicker. This can be especially important for athletes struggling with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), an injury, or if they have back-to-back games/matches that require rapid recovery.

CBD May Help Reduce Muscle Soreness

A workout improves physical strength, but it can also leave the muscles feeling sore. No matter what the body’s fitness level and endurance, muscle soreness after a day or two of exercise are inevitable. It may be worse if there has been an increase in the duration or intensity of the workout.

Athletes know the feeling of muscle cramps and soreness all too well. But they usually need to throw themselves right back into training or a big game.

Fortunately, research suggests that CBD may be a potent muscle relaxant. According to a 2017 study published by Pharmacological Research, CBD seems to help GABA (the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter found in the nervous system) work more efficiently by influencing GABA-A receptors. In other words, CBD may stimulate muscle relaxation by influencing a system that quiets, stills, and calms the body.

CBD and Pain

Injuries happen, and although there are numerous things athletes can do to prevent them, they can’t be completely avoided.

The conventional treatment for pain is opioid painkillers, which cannot only cause addiction but also often come with a long list of undesirable side effects.

CBD, on the other hand, is a lot safer, has very few side effects, and is generally well-tolerated – as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is significant because it means that CBD could be a safe and healthier alternative for managing pain.

As mentioned previously, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, but it could also help with pain in another way – by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. CBD activates a chain of receptors in the brain and spinal cord, thus dulling the pain before it can reach the brain. Therefore, it may be very beneficial to athletes who experience pain during post-training recovery.

CBD and Sleep

Every professional athlete and fighter understands the importance of getting a good night’s rest. The problem is that getting enough high-quality sleep is a common problem for athletes due to muscle pain and soreness, as well as the stress and pressure placed on them by the nature of their sport.

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Although there’s no clinical evidence to support claims that CBD may be an excellent natural sleep aid, it may promote sleep indirectly by reducing anxious thoughts. These are one of the main reasons people struggle to fall and stay asleep – as reported in this 2019 study.

Final Thoughts on Pro Athletes and CBD

CBD is becoming increasingly popular in the sports industry and pro athletes and fighters often use it for post-training recovery. From backgrounds as diverse as MMA to golf, many sports stars are now actively working with CBD companies to promote and endorse the products that have been benefiting them for years.

Those who believe in the cannabinoid say it’s great for inflammation, pain, sleep, and more. If this is indeed true, athletes can expect to recover faster, which is a huge advantage when competing at a high level.

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