What Is Tennis Elbow?
With the repetitive movements of tennis, it isn’t uncommon for some severe pain to kick in your outer elbow joint after a long match, often induced by inflamed tendons.
And this is nothing new. Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow as we call it, has been a known injury since the 1800s. It’s a prevalent issue when playing tennis, especially among middle-aged players. You’re likely to develop tennis elbow if you play a lot, and it can hinder you enough for you to stop playing tennis entirely.
So, how can you treat tennis elbow? CBD! Nowadays, you’ll hear a lot of talk about CBD products. For those who don’t know, cannabidiol (CBD) compounds are natural painkillers for pain and inflammation, and evidence shows that they can provide relief for tennis elbow. Follow along as we look at the science behind this.
What Is CBD?
For those who don’t know much about CBD, let’s first look at what exactly it is to put things into perspective.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a compound found naturally in the cannabis hemp plant. This fact alone may veer off some people who’ll misunderstand CBD for cannabis, but the two aren’t the same, and there are apparent differences between them.
While cannabinoid (CBD) oil comes from hemp extract, a type of cannabis, it isn’t the same as marijuana because it has little to no amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive element in marijuana.
CBD comes in different types, but most of those available on the market are made from isolated CBD (no tetrahydrocannabinol) or full-spectrum CBD, containing tiny traces of it, only 0.3% at most. More importantly, a CBD product contains natural cannabinoids helpful for the body and mind, so let’s explore how cannabinoids interact with the body.
What Does CBD Do to the Body?
CBD interacts with your body through the endocannabinoid system, which interacts with other systems like the immune system to regulate many body processes like homeostasis (balance), digestion and appetite, mood, sleep, pain signals, inflammatory response, and more.
Cannabinoids in CBD oil help your body produce stimulating chemicals for your cannabinoid receptors, which are nerves around your body that form the endocannabinoid system.
Does CBD Help With Pain Relief?
Although research on CBD is recent, and there’s still a lot yet to be discovered, studies on lab animals show that CBD can reduce pain in animals. Research shows the same results for humans, who have reported reduced pain and swelling after taking CBD. After all, CBD has a cooling effect on the muscle or tendon that needs treatment.
Many athletes, fitness experts, and other sports players report that CBD is relieving when applied topically to cure an injury. Most notably in tennis is John Isner, who we’ll discuss later.
But it’s not just pain relief and anti-inflammation, but also other severe conditions related to them like fibromyalgia and arthritis. Patients with these conditions often report positive results after taking CBD, even more so than medication.
What Else Can CBD Help?
Due to its calming effect on the nerves, CBD can help some mental or psychological problems like anxiety and irritation. There’s even a 2014 study that showed how CBD can help depression symptoms. Another study showed that it can relieve stress.
Furthermore, there’s evidence that CBD works with insomnia and improves your sleep in general since it relaxes your body from all the stress. This lets you recover naturally in a better way if you’re suffering from injuries and their discomfort.
How Can CBD Oil Relieve Tennis Elbow Pain?
For more severe cases of tennis elbow or inflammation and pain generally, we’d definitely recommend seeing a practitioner since your medical condition might require specific anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, surgical procedures, or other treatments. Either way, no condition should be left untreated, and CBD is definitely helpful for a milder injury.
In a tennis match, your joints are constantly under pressure. Sometimes you hit a serve too hard, or your opponent hits a serve too far, and you flick your elbow joint to reach for it.
The benefits you’ll look after the most in CBD oil are pain management and anti-inflammatory properties, especially for conditions like tennis elbow, where acute pain is the most common symptom. You may even favor CBD over other anti-inflammatories or painkillers because it isn’t a drug but a natural remedy for tennis elbow.
Applying topical CBD over an injury can soothe it, and after a few applications, you’ll regain mobility in your elbow and function properly. But consuming CBD orally will also do the trick, and it can help you sleep better at night by alleviating chronic pain symptoms.
One of the benefits of CBD over other treatments is that it isn’t addictive and non-intoxicating because the right products are free of tetrahydrocannabinol. This one is important for athletes who struggled with opiate or painkiller addiction before.
Other Ways CBD Can Help Your Tennis
In most fitness endeavors, it’s easy to strain your joints and muscles, especially after intense and frequent training. However, using CBD before and after your workouts can reduce pain or inflammation.
The relaxing effect of CBD on the brain can alleviate general anxiety, including that induced by performing in front of a crowd. So if you’re a new player who struggles with performance anxiety, CBD is definitely worth a shot.
Do Top Players Use CBD?
Unfortunately, most tennis players are quiet about their routines and what they use to keep their success a secret recipe. We say “most” because, luckily, we have John Isner.
John Isner, the Father of the Tennis-CBD Relationship
In 2019, John Isner, who was world number 14 at the time, became the first pro tennis player to sign a contract with a CBD company.
Earlier in 2019, Isner dealt with a stress fracture in his left foot, which caused him to withdraw from playing to recover. After the partnership, he said that CBD helped him get back to playing faster than he’d planned.
Isner is adamant enough about CBD that he says he wants to work with his sponsor to help people achieve improvement with CBD products.
Regulations on CBD
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) classifies cannabinoids as an S8 drug in its 2021 report, but it puts cannabidiol as an exception, so you’re good to go with it during competition.
How Do I Get Started With CBD?
So this all sounds promising, and the results and studies speak for themselves, but where do you start?
It’s fairly simple. You need to know the distinctions between the three types of CBD on the market and pick your method of applying or ingesting CBD.
Which Type to Use
There are three types of CBD you’ll find in products: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.
CBD isolate and full-spectrum are the ones you want to avoid. Isolate often lacks potency since it contains CBD only without any other compounds. In contrast, full-spectrum is undesirable because it contains everything from the whole plant, including THC, which can intoxicate or cause you to fail a drug test.
So broad-spectrum CBD is your go-to because it contains all the valuable ingredients found naturally in hemp except for tetrahydrocannabinol, so you don’t run the risk of intoxication or false positives on drug tests.
How Do I Take It?
Because it’s still relatively recent, CBD doesn’t have a specific dose, and the dose you take will depend on what product you’re using, your current condition, and what you’re aiming to heal.
But fortunately, there’s no risk of overdose using CBD products, so it’s recommended to start low and keep upping the dosage if you don’t notice results.
As for how exactly to apply CBD, there are many ways to do so, depending on the product. Some are topical, while others are oral.
For topical CBD, you can simply rub it on the affected area like you would any cream. If you’re using an oil, you can also squeeze a few drops under your tongue, keep it there for a minute, then swallow it, which seems to be a fan favorite method.
Naturally, any sport that requires repeated gripping with repetitive motions like lifting, and high mobility, like tennis, will strain certain joints or muscles, and in tennis, that’s the elbow.
Luckily, CBD is one of the best treatment options that rose in popularity recently to treat pain and inflammation, including tennis elbow, so it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for an alternative to traditional drugs, and it’s better than opiates.
But before you try CBD, remember that the best type is broad-spectrum because it contains no THC. Also, look for high-quality products as many capitalize on the recency and relative mystery around CBD to sell ineffective products to unwary buyers.