CBD for Runners: The Rundown
Need help with sleeping, reducing pain, or getting rid of anxiety? Try CBD, proponents claim. CBD oil, now legal in all 50 states, has been credited with all kinds of benefits — from reducing anxiety to relieving pain and muscle inflammation and helping with sleep. With all the recent hype about CBD and the health benefits, it’s no surprise that CBD for runners has become a big topic.
As I was searching for ways to de-stress and deal with my own anxiety, I came across CBD as a suggestion and decided to try it. I also tried CBD for some running pains. Here are my findings. But first, a brief overview of CBD for runners.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, a molecule found in cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a “high.” According to a report from the World Health Organization, “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.” Basically CBD is part of marijuana but not the part that makes you high (THC) and there is no risk of addiction and no known negative side effects (besides a risk of drowsiness in some cases).
Is CBD Legal?
All 50 states have laws legalizing CBD with varying degrees of restriction. CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it with a carrier oil, often hemp seed oil. It is sold alongside nutrition supplements in several forms: CBD oil, CBD edibles, CBD gummies, CBD capsules and topical CBD gel.
It’s gaining momentum in the health and wellness world, with some scientific studies confirming it may ease symptoms of ailments like chronic pain and anxiety. A lot more research needs to be done on running and CBD specifically, however, so in the meantime we mostly have individual stories and responses from runners about the benefits and uses of CBD.
In the athletics world, hemp-derived CBD was removed from the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances earlier this year.
There is no set guideline for CBD dosage since it is not recognized as an FDA over the counter medication such as Advil, etc. Also, as with nutrition, runners do better with different amounts, so you’ll need to personalize a CBD dosage based on what works for you. I ordered 600 mg CBD oil because it seemed like a middle range amount, and I took too much because I was so excited (and anxious, see below) to try it. I took 6 drops at first and got too drowsy and a little loopy feeling at the gym (but happy lol). Then I cut back and built up gradually and have found that 4 drops once or twice a day works best for me. Many people take CBD before bed (myself included at times), and it helps with sleep quality and falling asleep. I also take it in the morning and that is my regular dose, 4 drops. According to Healthline, most of the CBD studies use dosages anywhere between 20 and 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day. You can check out more from Healthline on CBD dosage here.
CBD Benefits for Anxiety
My biggest benefit from taking CBD oil is for anxiety. I started taking CBD at a time when I was weaning myself off of a potent, often addictive anxiety medicine, clonazepam. (Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and if you take clonazepam, it is recommended to get a doctor’s help when you want to get off of it, but this is my experience, which I did on my own, partly because I couldn’t afford mental health professionals).
As I gradually stopped taking clonazepam, I was experiencing sleeplessness and heightened anxiety. I started taking melatonin at night to help me sleep and CBD in the morning or before an event that would cause me more anxiety, such as taking the subway at rush hour. It took me a while to get the right dosage for me, but once I did and got into a groove, the CBD really helped reduce my anxiety. I am so happy I’ve been able to stop taking the addictive anxiety medicine that I started taking when I was new in NYC and going through a divorce. I never knew how hard it would be to get off of it, but thanks to CBD, acupuncture and holistic methods - such as running! — I am happy to say I am much less anxious and not dependent on any anxiety medication. I also have been able to sleep better and take 3-4 drops of 600 mg CBD oil before bed and wake up less during the night.
CBD Benefits for Runners
Many ultra runners and other runners love CBD for its help in reducing inflammation and running injury pain. According to most runners who use it, CBD is best for reducing nagging pains and aches that are ongoing. For acute injuries with sharp pain, you probably need professional treatment and perhaps medication. I tried taking CBD for some pain in my lower leg that I was experiencing from increasing my mileage quickly while coaching and running with people. The CBD did not seem to help when the pain was acute, but it has seemed to help with the lower level aches and pains. For instance, I went to PT and took a few days off of running to help treat my lower leg pain. And when I started running again, I have no more pain. I have been taking CBD throughout this time. So I do see what runners mean that CBD helps with pain management. I think I need to do more conclusive tests with this to report more.
What are you experiences with CBD? Has CBD helped you manage your running aches, pains or injuries?
Marnie Kunz is a RRCA-certified running coach and the creator of Runstreet Art Runs, which bring together communities through running and street art. She is a Brooklyn resident, running coach and writer. She enjoys traveling, art, and eating messily. You can follow her running and events at @Runstreet Instagram and Runstreet Facebook.