CBD entered the collective consciousness of the basketball world in 2018. That was when the BIG3—a 3-on-3 pro basketball league founded by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz—announced that its athletes would be allowed to take CBD products to help recover from injuries, becoming the first professional sports league to do so. “We look at the use of CBD as compassion for our players,” Ice Cube said at the time, arguing that CBD presents a safer, more natural alternative to prescription drugs, which oftentimes result in addiction. So, is CBD all that it’s cracked up to be? Most importantly, can it help you bounce back from some of the most common basketball-related injuries? Let’s find out.
Where CBD comes from
Most CBD products on the market today are made from industrial hemp. Like marijuana, hemp is a variety of cannabis. Unlike marijuana, though, hemp contains almost no THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that makes you intoxicated.
Because hemp has no more than 0.3% THC, it cannot make you high (CBD, in case you were wondering, is completely non-intoxicating). Thus, industrial hemp was legalized by the federal government in 2018.
So you can rest assured that your CBD, as long as it’s derived from hemp, is fully legal in all 50 US states. And that holds true for all forms of CBD: tinctures, capsules, gummies, topicals, you name it.
How CBD works
CBD works by interacting with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is made up of a bunch of molecules and receptors spread throughout your body.
Said molecules are known as endocannabinoids. They share many characteristics with the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant; the main difference is that they’re naturally produced by your body (hence the endo prefix).
Discovered in the ’90s, the ECS plays a significant part in the regulation of numerous biological processes, including mood, appetite, sleep, pain perception, immune system response and reproduction.
When you ingest cannabinoids like CBD and THC, they directly interact with your ECS. This interaction produces the effects that we’ve come to expect from these cannabis ingredients.
In the case of CBD, research has shown that its effects can help deliver relief to people dealing with:
- Chronic pain
- Seizure disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Sleep disorders
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea
CBD and basketball injuries
If you play basketball, you understand how hard the sport can be on your body. The quick side-to-side movements, combined with the repeated action of jumping up and down on a hard surface, takes a heavy toll on your feet, ankles, calves and knees—the most common locations of basketball injuries.
Can CBD help? It depends on the nature of your injury, but in general, yes. Given that much of the pain you feel after rolling an ankle or pulling a hamstring is caused by inflammation, CBD can bring relief.
CBD has significant anti-inflammatory properties, which make it a candidate for treating a variety of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. In 2007, researchers studied the effects of CBD on rats with chronic inflammatory pain and found it to be an “effective therapeutic agent.”
When it comes to using CBD for sports injuries, many athletes find that a topical product, such as a CBD freeze roller, is most effective. By applying CBD topically, you bypass the bloodstream and take advantage of the many cannabinoid receptors found in your skin, providing targeted relief to a specific area.
Research also suggests that CBD can function as an effective sleep aid. Not getting enough sleep severely hinders your ability to recover not only from injuries, but also from hard workouts. If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep at night, consider taking a CBD capsule or tincture before bed to induce a deep, restful sleep.
Medication without the downsides
Taking these factors into consideration, it’s no surprise that basketball players of all ages and ability levels are using CBD to stay healthy, active and off the sidelines.
CBD is a safe, natural alternative to over-the-counter or prescription painkillers and sleeping pills. CBD can help you recover from injury without the associated side effects of pharmaceuticals like addiction, withdrawal symptoms and increased sensitivity to pain.
The CBD market continues to grow with more players involved in CBD research and development for sports injuries every day. There’s never been a better time than now to make the switch from ineffective drugs that come with serious consequences into something as simple, yet powerful as CBD.