Is CBD Right For MMA Fighters?

For MMA fighters, the goal is to fine-tune their body like a well-oiled machine.  With only a few opportunities to fight in any calendar year, it’s paramount for a fighter to get the most out of his or her body.  

CBD has surfaced in the conversation of getting the most out of one’s body as of late. In terms of the sport of fighting, this is no different.  A fighter needs to not only heal their body outside of the gym, but they need to be calm in the face of extreme adrenaline and danger.  

Give this article a full read to understand how professional fighters, some of the best athletes in the world can benefit from the regular use of CBD.

MMA is a Demanding Sport

It’s important to understand the demand that the sport of professional fighting puts on a fighter.  Both physically and mentally. 

First, let’s consider the physical demands of a professional fighter. The training regimen is extreme and unrelenting. It starts early in the morning and finishes late in the evening. 

A fighter will start their day usually with a run at 6 am followed by a breakfast to load on the carbs that they will need to burn through the day. Mid-morning, after the food has had a chance to digest, there is an intense training session. These training sessions tend to last 90 mins to 2.5 hours and are full of combat drills, strength training, cardio conditioning and sparring sessions in the ring. 

After the first training session, the fighter has a stretch and cool down session followed by a shower, more food, film study and maybe a chance for a nap.

The 2nd training session is usually about 5 hours later starting in the evening around 4-7 pm. For the most part, this session mirrors the first.  Conditioning, drills, and more sparring. It may seem like a training camp regimen for a football player before the start of a season, but for a fighter, this is just a Tuesday. This kind of training is designed to pull the athlete to squeeze every ounce of greatness out of them. 

The sessions are defined by the volume and intensity of the training, not simply the type of exercise. So with that being the case, there is a premium put on time in between sessions meant for recovery of soreness. 

Recovery Time is Critical for a Fighter

These windows of recovery time in between training sessions are widely considered some of the most important periods that a fighter needs to take just as seriously as the in-action training.

If that much-needed recovery time isn’t taken seriously, the fighter’s body will break down under this kind of volume of high-intensity training intensity. It’s impossible to be proficient at any sport when your body can’t keep up with the regimen. Recovery time is where one’s body repairs and grows from the tears and strain that one pushes through. 

While there are many ways to repair your body as an athlete, there will always be two common denominators: An athlete needs discipline in their nutrition and sleep.  

Fighting athletes need to have a clean diet with usually five meals a day.  That’s right, five. Meals 1,3 and 5 are full of protein and veggies while meals 2 and 4 are filled with yogurt, fruit, protein powder and granola.  It’s important to drink about a gallon and a half of water per day as a fighter to replace the loss of fluids in training and keep the body hydrated. 

The other piece of the equation is a regular and consistent sleep routine for the body to rebuild itself from the damage that was done during training. Fighters are recommended to get about 9 hours of sleep in every 24-hour cycle.  

The Psychological stress that a fighter goes through is substantial.

We’ve covered the physical stress that a fighter has on their bodies and now it’s time to talk about the mental strain a fighting athlete goes through. 

The dangerous nature of MMA and professional fighting creates an atmosphere that is incredibly stressful and hard of one’s psyche. The regular exposure to the adrenaline, testosterone and cortisol hormones will put one’s system into a constant battle for balance and with the extreme nature of this sport, the mental fatigue is at risk as well. 

In fighting, the energy and intensity of a battle in the octagon is not for the faint of heart. It takes nerves of steel and a clear head to find success in the ring. As an MMA fighter, if you let your emotions, hormones or nerves get the best of you in the ring, it could mean the end of the fight before it seems the fight has even begun. 

The more calm the nerves are, the more technically sound a fighter is, the more technically sound, the higher the likelihood of victory.  Many professional fighters agree that the best fighter isn’t always the best athletic specimen, but the man that can slow things down to execute the game plan when the lights are on.  Rich Franklin, a retired UFC Middleweight Champ said it best, “while MMA training is almost entirely physical, the day of the fight is almost entirely mental.”  

It’s clear that the ability for the MMA athlete to control his mind and manage their nerves in the octagon is what separates the winners from the losers in the blood sport of fighting. 

So with that being the case, is there an application for regular CBD usage for MMA athletes?  Does this cannabinoid supplement offer an advantage for the fighter’s physical recovery, psychological health, and emotional intelligence in the octagon? Let’s analyze this.

How Does CBD Benefit an MMA Athlete?

 There are many ways that an MMA athlete benefits from the regular use of CBD.  We have narrowed it down to 6 key ways that using CBD can give a fighter a winning edge. 

  1. CBD is a Great Alternative to Pain Medications and Anti-inflammatories

The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD are profound.  The endocannabinoid system in our nervous system is where our body processes pain.  By activating this endocannabinoid system through CBD use can promote the anti-inflammatory process to help our bodies relieve the pain and promote more rapid recovery. 

This kind of better recovery could make a big difference when it comes to performance in the ring for a pro fighter.  A regular dosage of CBD oil under the tongue, as well as a regular treatment of CBD balm to rub into sore muscles, is a suggested combination to work into the routine for an MMA fighter. 

  1. CBD Can Help a Fighter Get Better Sleep

As we previously covered, the endocannabinoid system is a key system that has a lot to do with the quality of one’s sleep. When we get quality sleep, when we enter and stay into REM sleep, our body uses that time to repair itself. Muscle repair, mental repair and hormone rebalancing/ reproduction are 3 huge values of getting a deeper night’s sleep. 

CBD can help us all get better sleep through the positive effect a full spectrum cannabinoid oil has been shown to have of the endocannabinoid system. Studies have suggested that a regular CBD consumption may contribute to us getting to sleep faster, entering REM sleep faster, and staying asleep throughout the night. 

  1. CBD May Contribute to a Faster Recovery Time

There is nothing more important to an athlete than the recovery.  The adage “rest gains are the best gains” applies here. Regular CBD consumption is a critical component of an athlete’s recovery.  

Through better sleep, reduced pain, inflammation, and soreness, CBD will be a contributor to helping a fighter recover faster and in turn, be more effective in the ring. 

  1. CBD Can Protect a Fighter From Head Trauma

The effect that CBD has on the human brain is profound and maybe one of the most valuable aspects of value that this supplement has to offer.  

CBD has Neuroprotective properties that help to protect the all-important brain cells.  With so much emphasis on the dangers of concussions, anything that can help a fighter protect their brain is a must-have in their training and diet regimen. 

When a fighter suffers a knockout, the volume of blunt trauma to the head is incredibly dangerous for one’s well being.  CBD not only protects the brain but also helps the brain reproduce more new, healthy brain cells.

  1. CBD is an Awesome Alternative to Dangerous Medications

The opioid crisis in America is a big deal.  CBD can help an MMA fighter stay away from the pain medications that can trap them into a spiral of opioid addiction that can ruin their life. 

Even the regular dosage of IB-Profen for inflammation and pain can cause stomach ulcers when consistently used at high volumes over extended periods of time.

The use of CBD as an alternative to these damaging options is clearly a more effective way to deal with the pains that come with such a violent sport such as MMA fighting. CBD dosage as a dietary supplement and a topical balm for muscle soreness offers relief to a fighter without the damaging side effects that the other options offer. 

  1. More Focus Through CBD

Focus is the name of the game no matter what you’re doing if you hope to be proficient at it. It’s hard to find a profession where this is more important than professional fighting.  

MMA fighters need to bring their focus and mental alertness to the ring day in and day out.  CBD has proven to be extremely effective in improving focus for MMA fighters. 

CBD can help a fighter get into the right mindset and it can help increase one’s mental alertness. This is maybe a contradictory concept to the traditional understanding that CBD is a sedative. But in smaller doses, CBD has an anxiolytic effect which turns on the mental alertness of a fighter.  

Is CBD right for you?