Fitness & Nutrition

A List of Notable Athletes that Support (and Use) CBD

By Harris Wheless

In March of this year, Rob Gronkowski retired from professional football while arguably still at the height of his accomplished career. He is not alone in making that decision. Many other athletes choose to retire early due to the mental health issues, detrimental injuries, and addiction that are all too common in many professional sports leagues.

Gronkowski in particular suffered a string of injuries to his back, ankles, and legs. He underwent multiple surgeries during his time in the league, but the pain his injuries continued to bring him finally made him retire at 29 years old after nine years in the NFL.

Retirement, however, hasn’t taken his mind away from his injuries, or the path he and other athletes must travel to reach recovery. In August, he announced he would be partnering with a CBD retailer, CBDMedic, to create a line of topical pain treatments using the cannabis extract.

Gronkowski has said he wishes he could have used CBD to help with pain management while he was in the NFL, and he thinks other current and former players could similarly benefit from using it.

In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of prohibited substances. Sports leagues have since developed their own varying rules and regulations for CBD use, with some organizations allowing their athletes to use it, while others prohibit it. Regardless, more and more athletes are coming out as advocates for the cannabis compound and its multitude of health benefits. Here’s a list of several notable athletes who support and use CBD.

Bubba Watson, PGA Tour golfer and two-time Masters champion

Bubba Watson was one of the first big names in golf to openly endorse CBD products. In April, Watson announced a partnership with cbdMD, and now displays the company’s logo on both sides of his visor in tournament play.

Watson told TheStreet that as he’s gotten older, playing professionally has started to take more of a toll on his body.

“The inflammation in my body, waking up with better sleep,” he said. “That was the two things I focused on. With a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old at the house, and playing golf all day, I needed some energy fast.”

In golf, a round of tournament play can often take up to six hours, not to mention all the practice rounds and time spent on the range and putting green. As a result, many golfers suffer from arthritic inflammation, back, and neck pain. CBD topicals can directly address localized pain, and offer anti-inflammatory benefits as well.

Nate Diaz, UFC fighter

In the fall of 2016, UFC fighter Nate Diaz was seen vaping CBD during an in-competition period.

When asked about what substance he was taking, Diaz said, “It’s CBD. It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that.”

Diaz went on to say he recommended using CBD during training as well as pre- and post-fight. As one of the safest plant-based supplements that can be used for pain management, CBD has become a popular alternative to addictive prescription painkillers. It has also been celebrated for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to promote better sleep. In addition to those benefits, CBD has a good safety profile and little to no side effects when taken at an appropriate dosage.

Megan Rapinoe, NWSL midfielder and two-time World Cup champion

Earlier this month, Megan Rapinoe signed her first sponsorship since she and the U.S. Women’s National Team won the World Cup in July. The company she signed the deal with is Mendi, a women-owned CBD brand that Rapinoe joined as strategic partner and board advisor last year.

“I wanted a healthier, more natural option for pain management, sleep aid, relaxation while flying, and general recovery,” Rapinoe told Forbes. “Mendi’s mission really stuck with me. The desire to serve the athletes and be our trusted brand, but also their commitment to a healthier lifestyle, and changing the status quo around pain management and sports.”

Rapinoe hopes to help Mendi educate the public about CBD and cannabis use, while also getting rid of the stigmas surrounding a substance that offers athletes a lot of health benefits. CBD has the potential to be an important part of an athlete’s training and recovery program by reducing pain and inflammation, which can help athletes bounce back after a difficult period of exercise.

Ryan VandenBussche, former NHL right wing

Hockey is one of the more violent contact sports out there, and Ryan VandenBussche is well known as one of the NHL’s most aggressive players. Over the years, this has caused him a host of different injuries and chronic pain which has been extremely difficult to manage.

“As a 14-year professional athlete that has had a dozen surgeries, many broken bones, and north of 20 concussions, it’s better than the alternative,” VandenBussche told MensHealth. “As athletes, we were given opiates by our team doctors. Looking back after years gone by, I’m surprised I’m still alive.”

Since his retirement from the NHL, VandenBussche has become a vocal advocate of CBD use. He encourages athletes of all ages to consider using it for pain management and muscle recovery. Several current NHL players have started using CBD for these very reasons, and others are finding even more health benefits associated with its use.

Lofa Tatupu, former NFL linebacker

Lofa Tatupu, the former Pro Bowl linebacker, announced the launch of his new CBD startup, ZoneIn, in October of 2019. He hopes to use the company to help athletes and other adults reach optimal health and wellness in their daily lives.

“The mission,” he told KOMO News, “is to just create a community, create a tribe, that just believes in one another and puts out positive energy and continues to just do well by others and continue to push the health and wellness journey.”

Tatupu has emphasized CBD’s therapeutic benefits and the role it can play in managing ailments like chronic pain and inflammation. Many other football players are also turning to CBD to manage the aches and pains playing gives them—and they are finding success.

Floyd Landis, former professional cyclist

Floyd Landis underwent a hip replacement surgery in 2006. Following the surgery, he used WADA-approved opioid-based painkillers. As time went on, he began to rely on them not only for pain reduction, but also to treat his depression.

Landis became addicted to the painkillers he was taking, and was famously stripped of his Tour de France title when he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Eventually, he turned to CBD to help him end and recover from his addiction, while simultaneously managing his pain.

In 2012 he relocated to Colorado, and in 2016 he launched his own CBD company: Floyd’s of Leadville. He hopes to rid other athletes of their aches and pains by using CBD as a recovery supplement. For cyclists suffering from chronic pain, inflammation or soreness, CBD works well as a pre- or post-workout supplement to help you perform better and recover faster.

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