As cycling grows throughout the United States, using CBD products in recovery and training should become an attractive option.
In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on the changing commuting habits of Americans. Biking to work, the government agency found, had increased by 60% over the past 15 years of when the report was released. Since then, biking’s popularity has continued to grow. Its trendiness can be attributed to wellness initiatives, Americans reconsidering their carbon footprints, and cities re-shaping their streets to become more friendly to cyclists.
Biking, though, is no walk in the park. Whether you’re an avid mountain biker, long-distance road cyclist, or count yourself among the bicycling commuters, the activity will inevitably leave you some aches and pains. That’s where cannabidiol come in. More commonly referred as CBD, the cannabinoid is established in scientific research as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Reducing pain and inflamed muscles, in addition to improving sleep, is exactly what your body needs after a tough ride.
Faster recovery isn’t the only way CBD can assist cyclists. Physical activity creates endocannabinoids, which are neurotransmitters in your body that interact with cannabinoids like CBD. This in turn allows the therapeutic effects of CBD—or THC, marijuana’s psychoactive element—to relay a deeper impact in your system.
A 2005 French study that focused on the relationship between sports and cannabis found that “the relaxing properties of cannabis may be frequently used to enhance performance.” By lowering mental anxiety or possible negative associations to an event, like a big competition or hitting your personal best, it allows athletes to get more into the zone. Several bikers in the industry have attested the boosting capabilities CBD can provide.
“Pre-CBD, my absolute limit without being in horrendous pain would be to run six miles, since taking CBD I have done several 10 mile off road trail runs and I don’t have nasty side effects of prescription drugs hindering my riding,” mountain biker Beccy Booth, one-half of Fat Creations, told PinkBike. “I feel more alert and less tired as I’m in less pain and sleeping better. The only side effect I have noticed is an increased feeling of happiness, others have noticed that in me too. My mood has improved a lot.”
However, not all use is created equal. If you’re a casual rider, taking CBD responsibly doesn’t present any consequences. But those engaged in serious competition should proceed with caution. While CBD is permitted by the World Anti-Doping Agency—the guiding rules committee for most competitions—cannabis as a whole remains off limits.
Instead of full-spectrum CBD, which contains low levels of THC, athletes might opt for hemp-derived CBD. But even that carries risk. A recent study on 250 top-selling CBD products detected significant THC levels in 45% of the products, including ones that boasted THC-free claims. If you fear being drug-tested, you should ensure your CBD product is lab-tested and regulated to proper standards.
Those concerns, however, apply to a smaller group. Most will be fine using CBD in recovery and training from cycling. Your legs will thank you for it.