CBD, Flow States & Peak Performance
Whilst the science is still catching up to what CBD can do specifically in the context of sports performance we’ve collated the latest research and show you the direction research is going...
If you’re an athlete or fitness fanatic, then I’ll bet you’ve been in the zone before. That state of total immersion in your discipline, where nothing else matters. Time stands still, that voice that says ‘you can’t’ drops away, your focus sharpens. You’re flowing.
This ‘flow state’ is where one can effortlessly and fluidly take on the task at hand, and it’s what enables a lot of athletes to perform at their very best and achieve a state of peak performance. In running, this is specifically known as the runners high (1), where pace, rhythm, breathing and cadence all seem to synchronise seamlessly to allow a runner to stride as if they’re floating.
What’s interesting about flow states and the runners high is what’s behind their occurrence. Research has found that when an athlete enters the zone, a cascade of chemical changes occurs within the brain that drives peak performance (2). These chemicals are dopamine, noradrenaline, endorphins, anandamide, and serotonin.
These chemicals change brain wave activity and blood flow to the brain (3). The result is better learning and skill development, faster processing of information, increased motivation and focus which all culminates to increase performance in that activity. CBD has an impact on neuro-chemicals needed to produce flow. Mainly Anandamide. Anandamide literally means bliss chemical, and fingers are pointing towards this chemical as one of the factors which helps us flow.
Exercise naturally increases our production of Anandamide. The interesting thing is that CBD increases our brains ability to produce Anandamide (4). Hence why a lot of folks liken taking CBD to ‘blissing out’. Runners are amongst the athletes who use CBD to enter flow states easier, and to prolong their time in flow for increased focus. Many action sports athletes also use CBD to heighten their focus, particularly where flow is needed to navigate high risk activities.
A lot of yoga studios are now offering CBD before taking a class. Yoga is naturally flow inducing, and some yogis like to take CBD to find that flow easier, or deepen the experience of flow and focus within a class. Flowing involves being in sync with your body and its movements, which is why it feels so good. Even activities like HIIT and callisthenics can involve aspects of flow.
I can certainly attest to feeling more in tune with my body, my form and my flow when I use CBD in strength and coordination training.
Sometimes flow can be elusive, and a training session can be a drag without it. By using CBD you can effectively ‘flow hack’ and make it easier to find your flow.
Whilst we still share stories with each other about what CBD might do, research is being conducted by the University of California (UCLA) investigating the effect of CBD on the amount of time it takes to drop into flow, and the depth of flow experienced (5).
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