If you’re anything like us, you’re already looking forward to this winter. Why, you might ask, would anyone look forward to a time of cold, snow, and frostbite-inducing wind? 

Because winter sports transcend all that. They’re almost magically fun.

And while it’s still a bit early to fix your mind on the coming winter season (just don’t forget to snag some on-sale season passes!) it’s not too early to begin preparing your body for what lies ahead. 

That’s because there’s nothing magical about what winter sports can do to your body. Downhill skiing and snowboarding can take a tremendous toll on one’s physical health, almost regardless of how fit or skilled you are. They’re especially demanding on the joints, ligaments, and other connective tissues — on all the physiological elements that hold you together.  

Thankfully, CBD may be the perfect safeguard against extreme sports-related wear and tear. Start taking the plant compound now, and you’ll be giving your endocannabinoid system (plus everything it mediates) its best chance to become strong and adaptable in time for the winter. 

All that said…here are four ways that cannabidiol could help you overcome pain and perform your best this winter sports season.

CBD & The Fascia

For decades, athletes, physical therapists, and even scientists have overlooked the important role that fascia plays within the context of muscle and joint health…but finally, that time is ending.

So, what is fascia? Simply put, it’s a collagen-based system that permeates almost every area of the body. The fascia is responsible for holding muscles groups in their correct interspatial relationships; that means it influences muscular efficiency, functional movement, and even flexibility / range of motion. 

Sports-related injuries can cause the body’s delicate fascial networks lasting damage. Per myofascial expert John Barnes:

Trauma, such as a fall [or] repetitive stress injuries [have] cumulative effects on the body.” 

If this type of trauma sounds familiar, you may have fascial imbalances… which in turn “can exert excessive pressure causing all kinds of symptoms producing pain, headaches or restriction of motion.” 

Based on all this, it’s easy to see why fascial health would be important to the extreme athlete. Could the endocannabinoid play a role in regulating it? Much like the fascia, the ECS’s very existence — let alone its function — has stayed out of the limelight for some time. Yet recent research indicates that the answer is yes

Endocannabinoid receptors can be found virtually everywhere within the body, and their presence within fascia is no exception. A 2016 study detected both CB1 and CB2 receptors within fascia (CB2 is the prime target of CBD). And an earlier study concluded that eCB stimulation “may help resolve myofascial trigger points”. eCB stimulation — that’s what CBD does! 

Another interesting possibility: we can glean from the same study that myofascial massage seemed to boost endocannabinoid levels in the areas it affected. Perhaps the best approach to maintaining healthy fascia is CBD and massage therapy! Indeed, some practitioners are already doing just that

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CBD For Joints, and Tendons

In line with CBD’s impact on the fascia is its powerful ability to strengthen joints, tendons, and bones. 

You probably don’t need a scientific study to tell you how stressful downhill skiing can be on one’s skeletal structure, but we’ll include one anyways; this 6-year study found that knee injuries account for approximately one third of injuries in skiers”, the most common type of injury being external rotation from runaway skis pulling the foot and knee joint outward.

If an injury does occur, the best recovery method is obvious: rest. Yet lifestyle factors can also enhance the recovery process. Supplementing a nutrient-rich diet with calcium, vitamin K2 — and CBD, of course! — could help. 

It seems as though CBD speeds the recovery of both bones and joints by reducing inflammation and helping new, healthy cells differentiate themselves so they can play a role in the initial stages of healing. 

We’ll address inflammation later, so for now let’s look at CBD’s impact on cellular growth. A study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that CBD stimulated osteoblast (new bone cell) activity en route to speeding recovery from bone fractures. CBD also seemed to speed up the intricate process of ‘crosslinking’ collagen networks together to form bones. 

Cannabis expert Dr. Allen Frankel’s commentary on this topic says it all: “Here is one more great use of CBD for prevention of bone loss and help in restoring stronger bone after a fracture.”

And note from Dr. Frankel’s words that CBD’s value isn’t limited to post-injury use, either. 

To use CBD as a preventative measure, consider taking your normal maintenance dose of the compound consistently each day. 

It’s unclear if increasing dosage provides any additional benefits, especially if you’re already using a premium full spectrum product. Consider conjunctive use of a CBD-infused topical to really target problem areas, and you should be good to go!

CBD to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is both a blessing and a curse for extreme athletes. Too much inflammation leads to discomfort, pain, even nerve damage… yet not enough inflammation leads to a lack of adaptation and improvement. Inflammation’s ideal, balanced role is to signal for certain demands to the rest of the body.

CBD seems to powerfully reduce inflammation, but only in the areas where these reductions are needed. If this seems too good to be true, don’t worry — like almost all of CBD’s impressive qualities, this one goes back to its impact on the endocannabinoid system. 

Many people don’t know this, but the endocannabinoid system is malleable. It changes according to internal and external demands! In this case, endocannabinoid receptor density actually varies according to inflammation levels. More inflammation in an area signals for more endocannabinoid activity; less inflammation in an area signals for less. It follows that inflamed areas have more binding sites for cannabinoids — plant cannabinoids included. 

All this means that if you take CBD, it’s likely to reduce inflammation in the areas where such reductions are needed most. That’s definitely not the case with NSAIDS like aspirin. No wonder this 2009 study referred to cannabinoids as “novel anti-inflammatory drugs”

CBD may help reduce inflammation in other ways, too. It interacts with TRPV1 receptors (the same ones responsible for our perception of hot food) to quiet down the slow burn of inflammatory processes. And once ingested, CBD acts as an internal antioxidant, which in turn lowers inflammatory reactions further. 

How might all these biochemical changes actually affect you? Reduced inflammation means you’ll be able to get more out of your body. You may experience less soreness between ski sessions; you might be able to push up against your physical limits more frequently, too. (Now that we think about it, definitely get that season pass!)

With reduced inflammation also comes reduced pain — and reduced risk of serious injuries. While chronic inflammation weakens sensitive tissues, practically setting the stage for sports-related damage, low baseline inflammation leads to the opposite. A person with low inflammation will likely be more robust and resilient against injury than anyone else. 

Let’s face it: winter sports like alpine skiing are dangerous. Even for the highly skilled downhiller, one tiny miscalculation could result in devastating injuries. As a CNN feature on Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn realized, winning medals is one thing, but staying injury free is a victory in its own right.”

Could CBD be among the best ways to stay injury free? It just might be. We’re not saying it’ll make you bulletproof — just that it may help close the door to injury, overuse, and pain.

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CBD for…Cold Weather?

We realize this last benefit may be an unexpected one. Nonetheless, it’s true that CBD may help its users adapt to cold weather… and given the cold exposure that goes along with winter sports, we feel that warrants a mention!

This is especially true for snowmobilers and other more passive winter athletes. Between the windchill and the fact that your body may not be generating much extra metabolic heat, it’s easy to get really cold, really fast.

There might be a way to circumvent this problem.

Have you ever noticed how some people appear more resilient to cold weather than others? Modern science has shown us that these discrepancies come down to something called brown adipose tissue.

Brown adipose tissue, or BAT, is a type of fat that actually burns away other types of fat to generate heat. Brown fat derives its name from its color, as you might expect…and its color is derived from the increased mitochondrial density it contains. In simple terms, BAT is pro-weightloss and pro-metabolic.

And all this metabolic burning equates to increased heat production. Brown fat may help your body literally ‘burn hotter’ and experience less cold. It may also increase your personal tolerance for cold.

There are two primary ways to increase the proportion of brown fat one’s body contains: through cold exposure, and through the use of adaptogenic plant compounds like CBD. CBD may even help convert anti-metabolic fat stores to pro-metabolic, mitochondria-rich ones! How and why it does this is unclear…for now. But that doesn’t need to stop winter sports athletes from reaping the potential benefits.

CBD: The Perfect Winter Sports Companion

Keep in mind that these CBD benefits are just a sampling of the plant compound’s qualities. Some we left out, and some just aren’t especially specific to the winter-weather athlete. Take CBD and you’ll likely experience them, too… including things like better sleep and reduced anxiety. Overall, CBD and athletic life go hand in hand.

Don’t let pain slow you down this winter. Instead, use CBD as a tool to help you go the distance! We’re providing premium education — and premium CBD products — so that you can live your life how you want: active, inspired, and optimal.