Could CBD be Used for Pain and Injury Management for Martial Artists?
It seems obvious that with combat sports, at some point in your sporting life, you will eventually experience a pretty serious injury. This isn’t so obvious for the fighters themselves and over-time, it’s easy to believe that you’re untouchable. For those that are lucky enough go through win after win, leave a fight without a scratch, and produce hundreds of hefty medals; the possibility of a loss along with an injury seem far-fetched.
Unfortunately, from experience, it happens. There’s usually no way around it. You are constantly being kicked, punched or choked; so there is a certain percentage of that combat that will cause serious pain or injury somewhere along the way. Sustaining an injury from combat can happen instantly or appear slowly and gradually, and can seriously put a dent in your performance abilities.
With Kickboxing competitions, coping with pain afterward can be tricky. Having an injury or suffering from pain can result in missed training and a bruised ego. For many martial artists, missing out on training is absolute profanity and their idea of treatment is to go back to the gym much too soon. The outcome usually leads to a worse injury and longer recovery time. I’m speaking from experience of course – my wrists are very fragile things. Invest in hand wraps people!
CBD as a Combatitive Solution
So what things would I have done differently to deal with pain management? Well, for one, if I was aware of CBD oil (cannabidiol) at the time, I would have jumped on it. I’m not endorsing CBD, but from my experience with writing for a cannabis site, I have read about and seen athletes having faster recovery time, claiming that pain management is a lot more bearable. It reduces inflammation and can be used as a therapeutic, which is to say that if you are suffering from an injury and are concerned about recovery time, it could drastically lessen anxiety levels too.
There are numerous ways to take CBD oil. For one, I take it daily in the form of capsules containing 10mg. It keeps my concentration levels up to the volume necessary for me to produce good work – although some could argue that. For those that suffer from epilepsy for example, taking CBD oil through a tincture is popular. Otherwise, you can ingest in foods, inhale it through vaping methods and even apply it on the skin through a topically infused cream.
Thankfully, CBD as a treatment for pain relief is one of the most celebrated benefits, which is why we’re looking into how it may help those in combative sports.
UFC Fighters That Use CBD for Pain Management and Injury
When I first became aware of using CBD in the martial arts world, I had just finished watching the UFC 202 headlining bout between Conor Mc Gregor and Nate Diaz. In the post-fight press conference, we saw Diaz twirling a CBD vape pen through his fingers. His face was visibly wounded from the aftermath of the fight and looked like it could only get worse. When asked by a member of the audience what he was puffing on, he replied with:
It’s CBD…It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.
Martial artists go through high-intensity training and extreme total body workouts that can take its tole. Apparently, in the manner of treating injury, CBD can help with the before and after. Athletes have been using this method for a while now but have received backlash and even disqualification. The Octagon reveals many challenges as it is, but outside of the cage, these fighters are put under extreme conditions too. Continued blows to the head can take its toll over time and the possibilities of neurological damage skyrockets.
It’s no wonder then that the WADA prohibited list has since removed CBD as an illegal drug as of 2018. Athletes can now use it whilst training before and after competition without any worries of being disqualified. It has been said that CBD harbors neuroprotective impacts and can lessen oxidative stress on the brain. It’s also non-addictive and non-psychoactive, which is a huge relief to those fighters who are trying to switch from opioid medication.
Take Bas Rutten as another example. The now-retired UFC Heavyweight Champion became addicted to OxyContin – an opioid that was deemed the best pain reliever at the time but is now prohibited in-competition under the UFC. It wasn’t until the end of his career in 2006 that Rutten realised just how addicted he had become. Initially, he took drugs to combat the pain from competition, and yet he still found himself taking OxyContin, Norco and Vicodin (which are extremely damaging to the liver) even after retirement.
Rutten eventually discovered CBD to replace opioids and speaks about its benefits. He is also quoted to have said that if CBD was legal at the time of his fighting career, he would have taken it to help with pain management and as a preventative measure to injury. He explains that he may not have become so addicted to painkillers and puts faith in the hope that athletes and fighters alike will choose to take CBD instead of such addictive substances.
The Future for CBD in Contact Sports
Again, referring back to WADA removing CBD from the prohibited list of drugs, we may see an increase in the number of athletes turning to CBD to deal with pain and injury. Now that it’s legal, the freedom is a breath of fresh air in the right direction. As we know, cannabis has always had a negative stigma attached, and the fear of getting high on CBD has decreased with more studies that are newly available.
Even our almighty hero and martial arts expert, Mr. Joe Rogan, has been speaking about cannabis and CBD for quite some time now and has expressed his interest without apology. Since he is a leading and authoritative figure in the martial arts world, he has surely influenced more fighters since it became legal.
I recently read that CBD may have the potential to prevent CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in sports that are prone to result in head injury or brain trauma (think NFL, UFC, and boxing). Could this mean that less and less athletes are going to suffer in the name of their passion? I’m excited to uncover research into CBD and cannabis in general and seeing the overall potentials that it could offer to the sports world.