CBD 101

The Benefits of CBD for Sports Professionals

Professional Athletes and CBD

Mixed martial arts and boxing are strenuous, highly intensive contact sports. Injuries are common during a competition, often resulting in severe pain and discomfort. Even after recovery, MMA and boxing athletes can experience chronic, lingering discomfort.

As a ringside physician having worked thousands of contests over the past 30 years, I have witnessed these injuries firsthand. Most are mild, but some are more severe. These may include pain and inflammation from contusions, swelling, lacerations, and arthralgias. Because these athletes look for ways to reduce the adverse symptoms of competition, many have begun to use CBD.

The Acceptance of CBD in Sport

A few years ago, CBD was considered an illegal performance-enhancing medication prohibited in most sports. However, since 2018 the World Anti-Doping Agency has excluded CBD from its list of banned substances. Most professional sports leagues have now followed suit allowing their athletes to benefit from using these products.

Many famous professional athletes such as Rob Gronkowski (football), Klay Thompson (basketball), Alex Morgan (soccer), Travis Pastrana (motorsports), and Paul Rodriguez (skateboarding) have publicly touted the benefits of using CBD products.

CBD and Pain Improvement

An excellent study was recently published, showing how CBD might alleviate pain and discomfort.* The results were very intriguing as they showed that although pain intensity might not have been affected by CBD, how the individual interpreted the pain was. As the first experimental pain trial to examine CBD, their study yielded consistent and noteworthy results:

“Among other findings, the data showed that CBD and expectancies for receiving CBD do not appear to reduce experimental pain intensity, but do make the pain feel less unpleasant…we found improvements in pain measures caused by the pharmacological effects of CBD and the psychological effects of just expecting that they had gotten CBD. It was pretty remarkable and surprising.”

No Harm in Trying

Additional clinical studies are ongoing, but research and anecdotal evidence suggest the benefits of utilizing these products. If you suffer from acute or chronic pain or inflammation, trying these products may give you the pain relief you desire.

– Dr. Michael Schwartz
Co-Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee for the Association of Boxing Commissions 
Chief Ringside Physician for Professional Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts at Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods Resorts & State of Connecticut

* De Vita, M. J., Maisto, S. A., Gilmour, C. E., McGuire, L., Tarvin, E., & Moskal, D. (2021). The effects of cannabidiol and analgesic expectancies on experimental pain reactivity in healthy adults: A balanced placebo design trial. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/pha0000465