CBD for Cyclists: What It Can Do for Recovery and Performance

By Harris Wheless
Quino Al, Unsplash

Competitive bike racing can be grueling. The Tour de France, the most famous bike race in the world, is a three-week slog through mountains, countryside, and other terrain. And it’s not just the races. Most competitive cyclists train for months or years leading up to the big event.

For many athletes, performing at a high level can be incredibly draining on both a physical and mental level. It’s important to train and recover properly in order to stay healthy and prevent injury. Top athletes from all sports have started to find benefits in taking CBD to boost their recovery and performance. Here’s how CBD may help you stay fit and reach the top of your game.

What is CBD and what is it good for?

Cannabidiol has become a popular wellness supplements that has taken off among athletes and others suffering with a variety of symptoms. CBD is non-psychoactive and non-addictive, which has made it a popular alternative to opioids, prescription medication, and other potentially harmful or addictive forms of treatment. It also doesn’t have the negative side effects that regular use of painkillers like ibuprofen might induce. It’s a supplement that is typically considered to be safe for long-term use and can help you lay the foundation for a long, successful career.

CBD is a cannabis compound that is usually hemp-derived rather than extracted from marijuana, meaning it won’t make you high. Additionally, CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) to regulate body processes and promote homeostasis. It has the potential to affect multiple parts of the body positively, and therefore can be used to address many different symptoms. Some benefits of CBD include pain relief, anxiety reduction, and improved mood and focus.

Despite positive anecdotal evidence, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve CBD to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Because of this, the CBD market receives little regulation. Be wary of brands or products that seem suspicious, and make sure you read the fine print concerning product contents.

How CBD can benefit cyclists

Cycling at a high level often entails grueling training sessions and hour-long bike rides, along with symptoms like chronic pain, inflammation, and soreness. Cyclists can benefit from a supplement that allows them to endure stress, then transition smoothly into recovery mode. CBD may prove to be an effective source of relief in this aspect, with a low risk and high success rate.

Competitive cyclists as well as those who cycle or mountain bike recreationally can see benefits from CBD use. It can be taken like a pre- or post-workout supplement, before or after a bike ride. CBD has the potential to improve endurance and promote muscle recovery. It reduces pain and inflammation, and can provide you with less soreness and a higher level of performance.

It has also been found to act as a vasorelaxant, which means it can reduce blood vessel wall tension and increase blood flow. And for those in long races, CBD’s regulatory properties may help with your metabolism and managing your appetite.

Performing at a high level can really wear on an athlete, in more ways that one. Beyond the toll it can take on the body, athletes can also be subject to stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other related issues. CBD has also been found to have a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain, which can help improve mood.

How to find the right CBD product

Doing your own research is key when shopping for CBD. Look for brands that do third party testing and offer quality products with clear information about what they contain.

As of 2018, CBD is no longer a banned substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) rules. Cyclists will still be drug-tested for races that operate under WADA’s regulations. And although CBD use is allowed, THC and other cannabinoids remain banned.

Because of this, competitive athletes should be attentive to the contents of the products they choose to take. While full-spectrum products contain other cannabis compounds, CBD isolate includes just CBD and is a good option for those concerned with drug screenings.

You should also consider application method and dosage. Many cyclists and other athletes use CBD oil and apply it sublingually, which should produce effects 5-20 minutes after it’s taken. Athlete-focused brands like Floyd’s of Leadville offer protein powder for recovery, and a carb drink in their line of CBD products.

With dosage, start with the smallest recommended dose and work your way up slowly until you experience the product’s maximum effects. Talk to your doctor or trainer about how to harness CBD’s capabilities to best improve your performance and recover faster.

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