CBD & Contact Sports
You would automatically assume that as soon as a professional athlete starts getting heavily involved in cannabis that it would probably spell the end of their competitive days, especially in such a physically demanding sport as MMA.
However, the days are long gone in which you must smoke cannabis to consume it, and it doesn’t even have to cause any major psychoactive effects for its benefits to be taken advantage of prior to competition. You could literally consume some of the cannabis derivatives on the market right now and reap the rewards, right up until you step into your arena of competition, and immediately after.
Cannabidiol or CBD, commonly taken as an oil or in a vaporizer, has taken the world of MMA by storm in recent years mainly due its ability to prevent inflammation and help reduce pain.
It is a non-psychoactive form of cannabis that has entered certain MMA stars fitness regimes, and more and more are becoming vocal in the media, endorsing CBD as not only good for contact sports but also “to make your life a better place” as was mentioned by MMA star Nate Diaz following his competitive fight with Conor McGregor at UFC 202.
CBD: For Mixed Martial Arts & For Life
CBD is being endorsed by these stars as something to not only use before and after fights, but also to use as a supplement for life no matter who you are. It has become common for MMA fighters to use it as a replacement for opiate based pain killers such as codeine and tramadol, which athletes are starting to turn their back on due to their highly addictive nature in favour of natural remedies like CBD.
When you look at how much of a physically demanding sport that MMA is, and then look at some of its toughest competitors endorsing the use of CBD as a natural anti-inflammatory and a legal performance enhancing supplement than it does much to justify the amount of potential and power that CBD has.
MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is a contact sport, whose most common branch is the UFC. It brings different branches of martial arts together, from Jiu Jitsu to Wrestling to Muay Thai and more. The aim of the game is to either knock your opponent unconscious or to make them tap-out via submission. It’s safe to say that it isn’t for the faint-hearted and even the best of the best of the champions of MMA must nurse injuries inflicted by their opponents.
Each round in MMA is 5 minutes long, with one minute between each round for rest. Championship fights will last 5 rounds and all other fights will last 3 rounds. These rounds are 2 minutes longer than boxing. If you combine that with the fact every fighter is going to be different, due to the vast variety of fighting styles, it means that stamina, endurance, and concentration must be at an unprecedented level for anyone wishing to seriously compete.
How Could CBD Benefit MMA Fighters?
To properly understand how CBD affects the human body, you must first look at how CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is present within almost all wildlife, from mammals to reptiles to fish and cannabis has been found to grow in the wild in different forms all around the world.
Now that research conducted on cannabis has become more extensive, we can isolate different compounds, such as THC and CBD, and sort and categorise them in terms of the properties they possess. This means that scientists now have a much deeper understanding upon how CBD interacts with the human body, and we are starting to get a good understanding on how this helps benefit people who engage in contact sports.
CBD could help MMA fighters because:
- It may relieve stress – Stress is the enemy of a focused mind. All it takes with contact sports is lack of concentration for a split second and the fight is over. To combat this, CBD can be taken which has been shown to have health benefits in preclinical trials for a range of stress and anxiety related disorders.
- It could help to relieve pain – The condition in which CBD is most commonly prescribed for in The USA is for pain relief. It is a god-send for the MMA fighter who knows that he has completely legal pain-relief in his pocket for after the fight knowing full well that he may suffer some serious damage.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties – Post-fight recovery is of the upmost importance to a professional athlete. The sooner you have stopped swelling all over and can move without flaring up, then the sooner you can get back into the gym and be training again. CBD is gaining traction as being a better anti-inflammatory than both ibuprofen and hydrocortisone.
- It could improve your performance – CBD has been shown to increase concentration and help improve natural sleep cycles. Any athlete that has ever struggled with sleep will tell you that it can be completely counterproductive to motivation during a training session if you are tired. CBD is for the MMA fighter who wants to be 100% focused and ready.
- Non-addictive – In addition to all the previous benefits, CBD is a non-addictive alternative to other medicines that could be taken to do the same thing. For example, addictive opiate-based pain relief and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are slowly being replaced by a natural alternative in the form of CBD.
Which Top MMA Fighters Have Opted to Use CBD?
Many MMA fighters are using CBD oil, but it still has an extremely long way to go. Established and/or older athletes seem to use it less than new stars entering the sport. This is due mostly to the negative connotations CBD has gained from being associated with cannabis use, even though it is mostly non-psychoactive and has been shown to be helpful. It sometimes takes the top athletes to talk about their experiences in order to change the consensus about something. Fortunately for CBD, these following MMA stars have: –
- Nate Diaz – Is possibly the most open about his use of CBD oil and the person who has gained the most media attention after vaping CBD in front of media at a press conference following his fight at UFC 202 with notorious Conor McGregor. Prior to this the World Anti-Doping Agency has CBD on a list of banned substance, but removed it shortly after, and quite possibly due to the media attention attracted by Nate Diaz.
- Bas Rutten – An unfortunate example of how the effective pain-relieving effects of opioids can be tarnished by the risk they carry when it comes to the potential physical addition they cause. Bas Rutten, a former MMA world champion claims that if he has been introduced to CBD oil instead of being prescribed opiates for pain relief and inflammation, then he would never of had to battle the addition cause by opiates.
- Brandon Vera – Very vocal is his support for CBD as both a performance enhancer and as pain relief. Brandon has competed in both the UFC and WEC and has been the WEC Heavyweight Champion.
Things to Consider Before Taking CBD
If you are involved in any sports and are considering taking CBD oil for any of the reasons listed, then it is worth noting the rules of the governing body of your sport prior to consumption. The last thing you want is to jeopardise any competition due to not being able to compete because you haven’t followed the rules and regulations.
Even if CBD is legal in your country, it still may be prohibited in your sport.
If the sport in which you compete allows CBD, then it will almost definitely have a rule or regulation regarding THC content or a general statement regarding use of recreational drugs. This is where you must be careful because certain brands of CBD oil may contain trace amounts of THC.
The legal THC content is up to 0.3% before it will show as a positive on a test and potentially prohibit you in any way. Hence why most CBD oils will contain less than 0.3% THC. It is worth checking these rules and the THC content of your bottle prior to consuming any product.
Final Thoughts on CBD
Hopefully we are entering an age where the stereotype surrounding cannabis in sport will be put to bed once and for all. It helps when MMA stars come out in support of CBD oil, and it does lots to weaken the current, false stereotype surrounding the users of cannabis-based products.
Only with more clinical studies and with more stars talking about their experiences will we see a more open and accepted view of CBD within all sports. It appears to have broken into the MMA scene quite quickly over the past two years, but when will we see big stars of major sports in the UK, such as football or rugby, using CBD as part of their game?