CBD For Cyclists Performance, Endurance & Recovery
Elite cycling is tough. It’s a punishing sport – whether you’re riding roads for hours on end or navigating hills, rocks, and sharp turns. As such, it takes a toll on our bodies. And we need those same bodies to be at their peak.
It’s no secret that athletes are always looking for a competitive edge. Especially in cycling, where doping scandals abound, competitors need a safe, effective, and legal way to find that edge. Sure, training harder and smarter is the first option. Eating and sleeping well is the second. But if everyone is doing that, how can you separate yourself from the pack?
CBD has emerged as a popular solution to treat everything from mild aches to severe epilepsy. Professional athletes across all codes of sports are turning to it for recovery. Can CBD work for cyclists? Let’s find out.
Why CBD for cyclists?
First of all, CBD isn’t the same as marijuana. Yes, it’s a compound derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, but it doesn’t get you high. In fact, a large majority of CBD products come from hemp, a strain of cannabis grown to contain less than 0.3% of THC in the entire plant. Marijuana is still federally illegal, while hemp is not, and CBD is just a small part of a much bigger plant. If you want to learn more, here’s an educational video.
CBD oils are extracted using carbon dioxide for their medicinal properties. Cannabidiol, the scientific name for CBD, has been shown to reduce inflammation, decrease pain, treat epilepsy and Alzheimers, fight cancer, calm anxiety and stress, and more. Research is still preliminary, but the benefits are incredibly promising for cyclists.
As such, CBD oils are popping up left and right. So how do you know which to choose?
Full-spectrum CBD oils risk a tiny amount of THC (even when taken from hemp), while broad spectrum oils remove THC, leaving other compounds such as flavonoids and terpenes. CBD isolate, however, is pure CBD, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
The plant as a whole serves up an entourage effect to yield more health benefits. Competitive cyclists subject to regular drug testing, however, will fare better with CBD isolate. It’s the safest bet for purity.
How does CBD help cyclists?
Road cyclists seem to ride forever, racking up tons of mileage, wear, and tear on their bodies. Track cyclists need to hit top speeds in race and recover just as quickly. BMX and mountain bikers suffer pounding on their joints over and over again. CBD enhances both performance and recovery across all codes of the sport.
It works by acting on the endocannabinoid system in your body. This system features natural cannabinoids to regulate things like pain, brain activity, mood, and inflammation. CBD acts like a supplement to feed that system. With the help of CBD, you can hack into your inner environment to calm your race day anxieties, speed up recovery, and improve performance.
Is CBD legal for competitive cyclists?
Competitive cycling is rife with doping scandals. For athletes that want to compete clean, a positive drug test outweighs the benefits of any supplement. Fortunately, there’s good news when it comes to CBD.
Cannabidiol itself is no longer considered illegal according to the World Anti-Doping Administration. They recently removed it from the banned substances list, clearing it for both in competition and out of competition use. According to the 2018 WADA modifications,
“Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited. Synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic; however, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance.”
Read that carefully. CBD isn’t prohibited, but some CBD products may still contain THC, which is still illegal. As mentioned before, CBD oils vary both in contents and manufacturing processes. Competitive cyclists should carefully examine each and every supplement they use. When you find the right one for you, however, here are the benefits cyclists can receive.
Treat muscle and foot pain
CBD acts on your body’s vanilloid receptors to decrease the perception of pain. Much like your standard anti-inflammatory, over-the-counter drug, cyclists can take CBD to reduce soreness. It can also help you recover from overuse or acute injury.
For example, plantar fasciitis or muscle strains can sideline a cyclists career. While you still need rest, ice and restrengthening, CBD oil makes recovery less painful, allowing you to navigate physical therapy comfortably.
Intense pain often brings athletes to their physician, inquiring about prescription opioids to treat it. If used safely, they’re not a bad option under doctor supervision. Unfortunately, opioids are addictive. Their use and abuse caused a nationwide epidemic, so take them with caution.
CBD, however, has no known side effects or addictive qualities. If you’re in severe pain, talk with your doctor about switching out prescription pain meds for CBD .
Use CBD to increase endurance
Elite cyclists are notorious for their endurance. Whether it’s riding across an entire country or dominating the Wingate Anaerobic Test, you pretty much have to ignore pain. If endurance can be described as the amount of pain one can take before stopping, wouldn’t reducing that pain response help?
Sure, CBD won’t make you have the race of your lives without training. But science has shown that it can moderate the perception of pain. It’s consistently used to treat chronic pain conditions, so it’s worth a shot for competitive cyclists. The further and faster you can ride in training, even if just slightly, the better you perform on race day.
CBD For Performance Anxiety
Research has shown that taking CBD can mitigate performance anxiety. In one study out of Neuropsychopharmacology, both healthy participants and those with Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder were given CBD before a public speaking demonstration. In both groups, CBD administration reduced state anxiety before the task.
It’s pretty remarkable, especially as social anxiety would typically cause severe nerves before performing in front of a group. While more research is warranted on cyclists, it’s a promising answer to performance anxiety in general.
CBD Reduces Inflammation
Athletes training multiple times a week (or day) experience heavy inflammation. Exercise itself induces inflammation, which tends to subside after proper recovery. It’s not a bad thing in the short term. However, chronic inflammation can lead to overtraining syndrome in cyclists.
Overtraining depresses mood, decreases performance, raises blood pressure, and generally slows us down. Taking CBD regularly acts like a multivitamin to help you recover. Alongside great sleep hygiene, proper nutrition, and a curated training plan, it could get you back on the bike stronger.
CBD Leads To Better Sleep
In that same vein, CBD can help you get better sleep. Not only does it lower anxiety to calm you down, it actively puts you to bed. At high enough doses, CBD can reduce time to sleep onset. It’s also been shown to improve deep, REM sleep. Use it to recover and restore for the next day.
The Best CBD for Cyclists
Now that you know its wealth of benefits, let’s take a look at some of the best CBD options for cyclists. These high-quality brands have a reputation of effective, pure, and safe products.
Joy Organics combines the historic quality of Colorado farms with their impeccable production practices. They lab-test every individual product before selling it to consumers. By utilizing broad-spectrum CBD, cyclists benefit from the synergistic effects of antioxidants and other cannabinoids (but NOT THC).
CBD from Joy Organics comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Of course, they offer your basic, under-the-tongue tinctures for daily use. But they also have CBD creams to apply directly on to aches and pains. They provide vape pens, various gummies, and even an energy drink to answer any cyclist’s desires.
CBDistillery uses all-natural, non-GMO hemp to make their CBD oils. Of course, as they made this list, their products are also lab-tested. They’ve gone so far as to gain certification from the US Hemp Authority.
Recreational cyclists should feel free to purchase their full-spectrum CBD tinctures. Competitive cyclists shopping at CBDistillery – look for the CBD isolates. That way you can guarantee absolutely no chance of THC contamination. They also offer gummies, capsules, and more, but make sure to look for the “THC-free” label.
Green Flower Botanicals
Finally, Green Flower Botanicals offers some of the best CBD products in the business.
I like them specifically because they’re user-friendly. For a new cyclist who might be wary, Green Flower is your go-to.
They offer a 30-day money back guarantee on the first purchase of select products. If you pick one of these, you can try it out without any risks. Each product featured on the website comes with a label noting THC content, suggested dosage, and whether or not it qualifies for money back. Check it out for yourself to see more.
Outside of their great manufacturing practices and quality-assurance, they sell strain-specific CBD oils. Each individual strain of hemp is grown for maximum CBD quality, and their CO2 extraction methods lead the industry.
What have we learned about CBD? The benefits outweigh any side effects for competitive cyclists at this point. Some people feel the effects more than others, as all bodies are different.
A good rule of thumb is to start small and build up to higher doses of CBD as your body acclimates.
If you’re a biker, or know one who might benefit from regular CBD use, it’s worth a shot. Talk to your doctor about any issues you’re experiencing, and ask them if CBD is a good option. Overall, you just have to try it yourself to find out.
Kimber Rozier is an entrepreneur, former Harvard coach, and decorated professional rugby player for the USA who loves sharing her knowledge through coaching and writing. Certified by the NSCA and Precision Nutrition as an expert, she brings her wealth of experience to the page, sharpening the lens by which we see the world. She writes for many small businesses, as well as large publications such as Men’s Health, MyFitnessPal, and EliteFTS. She now owns her own business, Dare Performance, in which she promotes a healthy lifestyle through journalism. Contact her at Kimber-Rozier.com.