Kerri Walsh Jennings, a multiple Olympic gold medalist and one of the most decorated players in the history of volleyball, is a fan of CBD products. The celebrated volleyball superstar revealed that she has slept better since she started using CBD products, and her overall well-being has greatly improved. She has even signed a partnership agreement with a CBD company. Walsh hopes that CBD will help keep her in great shape as she once again aims for glory at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games at the age of 41. She joins a long list of professional athletes who have come out in support of using CBD for the benefit of sportsmen and sportswomen. But how exactly can CBD help volleyball players to give their best on the volleyball court?
What is CBD?
While the body’s endocannabinoid system produces enough phytocannabinoids to keep a normal body in balance, professional athletes such as volleyball players push themselves to the edge of their capabilities and endurance and may need to supplement the endocannabinoid system. While there are pharmaceutical medications that help players recover, there has been a push for a more natural alternative. This is one reason more and more athletes, including volleyball players, are turning to all-natural CBD products.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the chemical compounds (referred to as cannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant. It can be extracted from either the hemp plant or the marijuana plant, although CBD is more pronounced in hemp than in marijuana. Unlike THC, the other popular cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant, CBD does not provide any psychoactive effects to users, meaning it does not produce the “high” feeling that is associated with marijuana use. In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of banned substances and gave athletes the go-ahead to use CBD products.
How CBD Can Be Helpful to Volleyball Players
The fact that volleyball teams are separated by a net makes the sport look like it is a comparatively gentle game. However, it is a very physically demanding sport that involves a lot of jumping, spiking, and blocking. As a result, volleyball players are vulnerable to injuries on the knees, ankles, shoulders, fingers, back and even their heads. Some of the common injuries in volleyball include:
- Rotator cuff tendinitis from overuse of the shoulder muscles
- Fracture and dislocation of the fingers, as well as ligament and tendon tears from setting, blocking, and digging
- Ankle sprains from cartilage injuries or subtle fractures
- Patellar tendonitis (also known as “jumper’s knee”) from forceful and repetitive jumping during blocking and jumping
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury from awkward landings
- Lower back pain, herniated disks, or spondylolysis from muscle and ligament strains
- Concussions from hits to the head
These injuries usually result in inflammation and a lot of pain, even if the injuries themselves aren’t severe or serious. The pain can affect not only the player’s performance in training and on the court but also their personal lives. Although research on CBD’s ability to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain is still ongoing, and there are no conclusive results, many volleyball players are turning to CBD products in hopes of feeling less pain while recovering from injuries.
To be able to prepare adequately for games, players need plenty of good sleep. Because the endocannabinoid system helps regulate sleep patterns, among other roles, researchers have conducted studies to determine if CBD can help alleviate sleep disorders and promote a good night’s sleep.
It is also common for volleyball players to feel anxious before games, especially those that are considered important must-wins. Losses in high-stakes games can also affect the player’s mental health. These negative feelings can impact player focus and performance in training and during games. One of the potential effects of CBD that is under investigation is its ability to bind to the CB1 receptors and trigger the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mental health. For the same reasons, CBD is being explored by researchers as a means of increasing focus.
Because of the rigorous training, physically intense games, and constant injuries associated with volleyball, many players are on pain management treatment programs. These treatments usually consist of pharmaceutical medications that could result in addiction and dependency with prolonged use. More research is needed on how exactly CBD could help both retired and active volleyball players battling opioid addiction. There is no reliable finding yet, but athletes are hopeful.
Volleyball players also need to stay physically fit. However, some of them are known to struggle with eating disorders and tend to overeat, which can affect their fitness level. Though more research is needed, studies have been conducted to determine whether CBD can help suppress appetite and maintain healthy eating. If this is eventually confirmed, CBD may become an aid for players looking to lose weight and stay fit.
How Volleyball Players Take CBD
Since health researchers are yet to develop an exact dosage for CBD, it is often difficult to establish the timeframe it would take for one to feel the effects of CBD. Different people experience different lengths of time for CBD to take effect. However, the method of consumption largely determines how long it takes to feel the effects of CBD. The purpose that the CBD is intended to serve usually dictates the method of consumption.
For volleyball players, there are many ways they can take CBD products. If the intention is a full-body effect, the player can consume CBD products orally in the form of capsules and pills. CBD can be administered sublingually through tinctures, or by adding the CBD product to food and drinks. When taken as pills and capsules or in food and drinks, CBD first passes through the digestive system before becoming absorbed into the bloodstream. This reduces the bioavailability of the CBD as some of it gets broken down by digestive enzymes. It can also take up to an hour, depending on the player’s rate of metabolism, to feel the effects of CBD. Taking CBD sublingually as a tincture is the fastest way to get the CBD into the bloodstream through the tissues under the tongue. The effects can be felt almost immediately and the bioavailability of CBD is also high.
Players can also use CBD creams or topicals as a way to apply cannabidiol to a specific area. The CBD is added to gels and salves, which the players can apply to localized areas. This is especially effective when the intention is to target a particular area of the skin or body. Volleyball players, for example, may apply the CBD directly to a sprained knee or shoulder in hopes of alleviating the pain.
It is not, however, advisable for volleyball players to take CBD through inhalation as it can be damaging to their respiratory system. Vaping can also contain harmful contaminants that can affect player health and performance on the court. THC is yet to be removed from the list of banned substances by anti-doping agencies.
Factors Volleyball Players Have to Consider When Using CBD
Although CBD has largely been approved for use by professional athletes, it is still illegal to use THC. Failing a drug test can have repercussions on a player’s career. Since it is often expensive to obtain pure CBD isolates that don’t contain other cannabinoids, those who purchase and use certain lower-priced CBD products can potentially fail a drug test. It is important for volleyball players to only purchase CBD products from reputable manufacturers and vendors. They should also be cautious of the mislabeling of THC levels on product labels, since that could jeopardize their drug tests.
It is also important for players to consult with health experts and nutritionists to advise on the correct dosages and how to use CBD products correctly for their benefit. That way, they will be in a better position to understand how CBD works and how it could be beneficial to their recovery and performance. Even if the player is only using CBD for recreational purposes, it is still important to engage professionals so that they don’t end up negatively affecting their careers.
More and more professional athletes are embracing the use of CBD as part of their regimen. Volleyball players might also want to benefit from CBD if they believe it can help their careers. While we continue to wait patiently for medical researchers and the FDA to reach definitive conclusions about the effects of CBD, volleyball players will continue to use CBD to see how it fits into their practice and competition routine.