Until recently, CBD was included in the prohibited product list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In October 2018, the agency announced that CBD was being removed from the list. This means athletes from across the globe can now use CBD products, provided they do not contain other cannabinoids and THC. This new policy doesn’t supersede CBD laws in your state or country, or the specific regulations of your league. The NBA, for example, still hasn’t permitted the use of CBD.
The potential benefits of CBD for tennis boosted its popularity in the tennis industry. But how do tennis players use CBD? Read on to find out.
Who Started the CBD Trend in Tennis?
John Isner is a Georgia Bulldog alumnus and five-time BB&T Atlanta Open Champion. John is currently ranked within the Top 20 tennis players in the world.
Isner is one of the first tennis players to take CBD supplements. According to him, CBD supplements place him in a position to perform well and bring his best to every competition.
Understanding Tennis Elbow Better
The most common type of injury that a tennis player can experience is the aptly named tennis elbow. Other athletes at risk of developing this kind of injury are those who participate in racquet-style sports like ping pong, squash, and racquetball. You are also at risk of this condition if your job or hobby requires repetitive arm movements like typing, carpentry, painting, raking, and knitting.
Tennis elbow, also called lateral epicondylitis, is an injury that occurs when tendons in the elbow are overloaded from repetitive motions carried out by the arms and wrists. The tendons in your forearm muscles that are attached to the bony part of the elbow are often affected by this condition, and it can also radiate into your wrist and forearms.
Because of the pain and weakness associated with this condition, it will inhibit your ability to perform the following activities:
Lift heavy objects
Grip any object
Form a fist
Raise your hand
Straighten the wrist
Hold a racquet
As a result, tennis players that suffer from this condition have no choice but to rest the affected part of their body until they recover. As we all know, every practice session counts, especially if you are training for an important event. Because of this, you can miss significant training time if you have tennis elbow.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to speed up the recovery process. Typical remedies for tennis elbow include icing and range of motion exercises to ease stiffness and promote flexibility of the muscles.
There are also medical treatments for this condition. Patients often receive a steroid shot that can address the inflammation associated with the condition. However, studies show that such treatment is not effective long-term. The most common treatment is taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can help with the pain and inflammation. However, chronic use of these medications may lead to unpleasant side effects and opioid addiction.
With that in mind, the tennis industry is currently looking for a safer alternative to these medications.
Possible Effects of CBD on Tennis Elbow
The rise in popularity of CBD in tennis is partially due to its perceived ability to relieve pain associated with tennis elbow. CBD is a type of cannabinoid extracted from the hemp plant, and it has an effect on our endocannabinoid system (ECS).
In this system, there are two primary receptors—CB1 and CB2. The ECS regulates different bodily functions through these receptors. Such functions include digestion, appetite, immune function, sleep, mood, reproduction, and above all—inflammation and pain.
There are two potential ways that CBD may act once it enters the ECS. First, the CBD molecules can attach to receptors to facilitate functions associated with the receptor they connect to. Second, the presence of these CBD molecules may activate the ECS, which is the system of the body that is responsible for managing inflammation and pain. It’s important to note, however, that the FDA has not yet approved CBD as a treatment for pain.
The good thing about CBD is that, unlike opioids, it is non-intoxicating. This means that it is not addictive, and won't make you feel high.
Other Potential Benefits of CBD in Tennis
Aside from the management of tennis elbow, there are other possible benefits of CBD in tennis, such as the following examples. Please note that none of these benefits have yet to be medically proven and remain under scientific investigation.
Oxidation and Inflammation
Along with pain, one of the most significant barriers to better performance and faster recovery for athletes is inflammation.
CBD binds to and desensitizes TRPV1 receptors, which are the receptors responsible for stimulating pain and sensory reception, body temperature, and inflammation.
After a grueling tennis session, you may have trouble moving your arms. The next day, your arms can feel cramped and sore, which can make even routine daily tasks difficult to perform.
Some studies explore the use of CBD in promoting muscle recovery and relaxation. CBD molecules may influence GABA-A receptors and assist in the function of GABA, which is one of the systems that promote relaxation.
The athletic activities that the players carry out are already a form of stress. The additional stress that comes as a result of training may negatively impact the athlete's performance.
There are many ways that CBD could possibly affect the stress that we feel. Cannabinoids bind to the 5-HT1A receptor, which is believed to play a significant role in the management of anxiety disorders. Furthermore, the ECS can become dysregulated due to stress. By boosting the system, it produces more cannabinoids, which can bring back the balance of the ECS.
In addition to mental stress, one type of stress that athletes should avoid is oxidative stress. It takes place when there is an imbalance in the levels of oxidants and antioxidants in the body.
Most athletes try to address this by consuming antioxidants. One way to avoid this condition is to prevent oxidative buildup. This can be done with the use of an internal oxidant called glutathione. Research is underway to determine if CBD may boost the levels of glutathione in the body.
Quality of Sleep
The better your sleep is, the faster your body will recover. Our bodies need rest in order to recover, and one of the best recovery methods that a tennis player can enjoy is sleeping. Cortisol is a hormone that experts consider to be the body's internal alarm clock. This is because elevated levels of this hormone in the body can disrupt your sleep and wake you up.
To enjoy a sound night’s sleep, the goal is to keep cortisol levels as low as possible. Aside from interacting with the ECS, CBD is also said to affect the endocrine system, the system that releases hormones like cortisol. Studies have been conducted to explore the effects that CBD has on cortisol levels in our body. CBD is thought to interfere with the secretion of cortisol in the body, which may result in lower blood levels of the substance.
There are different forms of CBD that tennis players can take. You can choose either oral, topical, or inhalable CBD products. Unfortunately, there are plenty of fake, impure, and synthetic CBD products on the market. Choosing the wrong product will not just put your health at risk; it will also increase the chance that you will be disqualified from competition.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a high-quality CBD product for your needs. Aside from the dosage form and type of extract used, other factors to consider are the origin of the hemp plant, method of extraction employed, third-party (COA) results, reputation of the manufacturer, dosage strength, and more.
To help ensure that you will not be violating any WADA policies, it is crucial to work with a medical professional so you can find the CBD product that will best suit your needs.
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