CBD for MMA fighters are pioneering the use of CBD to speed up the healing process caused by injuries
“Health is the appropriate balance of the coordination of all of what we are. A healthy person has both a good orientation (sensoric system) and ability to act (motoric system). So, if there is no balance between sensing and doing, then you are out of gear”… Bruce Lee
Mixed martial arts (MMA) have long been at the cutting edge of sport, constantly pushing boundaries and encouraging forward-thinking. In recent times the (WADA) World Anti-Doping Agency has lifted restrictions regarding the use of cannabidiol (CBD) from its list of banned substances.
What is CBD?
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabidiol present in the cannabis sativa plant, unlike tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC), the psychoactive component, responsible for the intoxicating high. CBD for MMA fighters is known for its natural health properties and beneficial effects on speeding up recovery, reducing inflammation, lowering anxiety, promoting better sleep and importantly increasing evidence illustrates its neuro-positives for individuals more prone to traumatic brain injury (TBI), often associated with contact sport.
While the therapeutic benefits of CBD are becoming better documented, a number of MMA fighters advocated its use long before WADA lifted it restrictions. Most notably, the Diaz brothers, Nate and Nick, UFC icons openly used cannabis (medicinally and recreationally) and many years ago adopted a greener lifestyle – vegan and gluten free diets, alongside their daily Brazilian jujitsu practice.
Due to the physically gruelling nature of MMA, through both training and competition, as with similar contact sports, MMA fighters acquire concussions alongside other head trauma, general soreness, inflammation, muscular, ligament and tendon damage, so there is always a need for some form of intervention to promote recovery.
Bellator MMA and UFC promoting the use of CBD
In recent months two of the largest names in MMA, namely Bellator MMA and UFC have affiliated themselves with CBD companies in collaborative ventures promoting, endorsing, and continuing evidence-based CBD research. Hans Molenkamp, a professional photographer and long-term influential MMA marketeer, stated “The CBD oil entering into this space for me was a personal thing because I am so injured myself.” Hans has sponsorship involvement with leading names in MMA including Rampage Jackson, Conor McGregor and Daniel Cromier, the current UFC heavyweight champion and CBDMD.
As you may witness, an increasing number of MMA fighters have chosen to embrace CBD for its healing properties, as an alternative to the more conventional medical model of prescription and over the counter drugs, because CBD can address all the above issues and many more, improving recovery between workouts while promoting better sleep.
4 benefits of CBD for MMA fighters, athletes and other sporting individuals
1. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) & CBD
Concussion and losing consciousness as a result of repeated blows to the head may lead to short as well as long term neurological damage. This type of injury, is sadly, a relatively common issue for professional fighters. Emerging evidence suggests regular use of CBD for MMA fighters has the potential to improve TBI, mainly due to its anti-inflammatory effects, arrests glutamate-induced cell death and helps in dealing with other side effects of TBI including anxiety, depression and negative thoughts.
2. Controlling pain & CBD
Conventional medicine often prescribes opioid-based painkillers for pain management. Aside from the numerous side effects experienced taking painkillers, perhaps more importantly to note is, how quickly one can become addicted to these strong opioids. Sadly, reversing the impact of addiction can take substantially longer. Seeking an alternative solution, CBD, a natural painkiller, impacts positively in two key areas of pain management. Firstly, CBD for MMA fighters activates pain receptors, reducing pain signals before messages reach the critical parts of the brain. Secondly, by reducing inflammation at the site of injury, the neural response to pain is minimised.
3. Muscle recovery & CBD
It is crucial for the musculoskeletal system to recover between workouts and competition to minimise injury. In relation to MMA fighters, the more time they can spend in the gym training, the better prepared they will be for competition. Therefore, using CBD pre and post workouts is effective for its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects, speeding up recovery, ensuring inflammation does not linger, calming muscular hyperactivity and reducing muscle twitches.
4. Sleep & CBD
It is well documented the power of sleep to facilitate recovery in general as well as overall performance. We all feel better for a good nights’ rest including MMA fighters. That said, quality sleep evades many professionals due to the pressures they and the sport places upon them, as well as soreness from injury, pain and life stressors. By reducing anxiety, that can become part of the vicious cycle of not sleeping, CBD a naturally occurring sleep aid, helps calm, relax and rebalance the mind.
How MMA fighters use CBD
CBD for MMA fighters is available in an array of formats including oils, vapes, balms, capsules, tablets, topical creams, bath bombs, drink and food infusions. Depending upon its application there is a significant difference between using CBD therapeutically or a general health supplement. For instance, topical applications can be helpful in dealing with localised pain, however, whole body inflammation is best treated from the inside out, so ingesting oil sublingually or taking capsules will get into the bloodstream to migrate around the body. Each MMA fighter will evaluate their own personal needs and decide accordingly what issue needs to be targeted and best practice to do so.
Final thoughts – MMA & CBD
There is a tidal shift for all sporting individuals, with MMA sport and MMA fighters leading the way, advocating the use of CBD to promote positive body and mind healing rather than a misconstrued perception of destroying lives. CBD has many benefits in sports particularly contact sports. CBD helps MMA fighters to recover from the rigours of their training programmes and competitive fights, protecting them from TBI, addresses inflammation, reduces pain, alleviates anxiety and promotes good sleep.
By paying close attention to what your body is telling you, your body will tell you what it needs in order to maintain homeostasis. If there is not a balance between sensing and doing, you are not as healthy. It is important to not only treat the injuries but to look after your whole well-being.
To re-echo the sentiments of Bruce Lee, “Health is the appropriate balance of the coordination of all of what we are. A healthy person has both a good orientation (sensoric system) and ability to act (motoric system). So, if there is no balance between sensing and doing, then you are out of gear.” All of what we are, our mind, body and spirit, working together harmoniously. CBD can help each one of us achieve that goal.