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CBD – your new running mate?

In lockdown sales of running equipment soared by around 250 per cent in the UK, so it is clear that more people have taken up running as a great way to stay healthy while gyms and leisure facilities are closed. Cannabis Health looks at how a growing number of athletes using CBD to benefit their running, whether to aid recovery or to help stay in the zone.



With more studies taking place around its usage, CBD is quickly becoming a go-to alternative to prescription medication such as ibuprofen due to the enhanced benefits it offers, without the health risk associated with anti-inflammatories.

Already athletes from various sports such as MMA and rugby, as well as golfers, are using CBD oil for preparation, recovery and to enhance focus. But there are some other key factors that need to be considered.

The benefit of a healthy sleep pattern before a long run and in the lead up to a race are well documented. Many runners can be the victim of pre-race nerves in the days building up to an event, and anecdotal evidence points to not only longer sleep but better, restful sleep as a result of CBD usage, with users feeling more refreshed after a night not spent worrying about race strategies or if they were going to forget their running shoes on the day.

It can certainly be claimed that CBD can get a runner to the start line in a better mental state and feeling more refreshed, but it’s also during a race that other benefits can come into play.

The endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors which controls the body’s ability to achieve normal healthy bodily functions, is seen to be responsible for the euphoria often felt by runners known as ‘the runners high’.

The system produces a natural compound called anadamide, a compound associated with regulating pain that is thought to keep runners in this zone.

CBD works against the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of anandamide. It is thought that reducing the compound that has a negative effect on the runner’s high can prove beneficial for long distance runners who want to stave off the physical and mental strains of pounding the pavement for hours on end.

When it comes to the aftermath of a race or particularly grueling run, recovery is vital to help those muscles recuperate ready for the next adventure. Muscle strains and small tears associated with tough runs can also turn into long term injuries. CBD is now considered a valuable tool in aiding with recovery.

Regular and longer running sessions can take their toll on the body. CBD works as an analgesic both during and after exercise, especially in the days following a race, when muscle aches and pains most often occur.

“CBD coupled with stretching, icing, and foam rolling is a common treatment plan for tendonitis injuries about the knee, such as iliotibial band syndrome,” says Charles Bush-Joseph, M.D., a professor of orthopedics at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Ultra-runners Caleb Simpson and Avery Collins are both proponents of CBD use as a daily supplement, with Simpson documenting occasions in which CBD has been used to loosen muscles during endurance events and as part of his recovery.

As an elite athlete, Collins uses both supplements and lotions in great volumes on his legs to aid recovery.

“It’s pretty common for me to just go ahead and use anywhere from thirty to fifty milligrams of compound on my legs,’ he has said.

But it’s not just runners pushing themselves to extremes that can benefit from CBD. Those of us with less superhuman targets can also see enhancements in performance and distance with regular CBD use.

Many recreational runners tell of niggling meniscus tears no longer causing pain after implementing CBD into their daily routine. With a quicker recovery from a race comes more time to get out and actually run, rather than pay the physical price for days after.

Erin Dawson-Chalat, M.D., of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, saw a long standing plantar fascia pain disappear after only a few days of applying a CBD balm to the area.

The natural and safe aspects of CBD are clearly a factor in its increasing popularity with athletes.

There are some factors that may need to be taken into consideration before taking the plunge. For example, some have found that the relaxing effects of CBD can make them groggy at certain times of the day so it’s wise to experiment with what works for you.

Finding the correct dosage is also important. With people’s tolerances varying it can take time to find the right balance and it may go without saying that race day is not the best time to try it for the first time.

The time may come that CBD is as common as caffeine energy gels or bars. Until then it may be worth implementing slowly into your routine so that you can make your own mind up.


Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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