Hemp & CBD benefits/risks for athletes, mainly climbers

Created by: Adam Ondra

Hemp as a crop is in a very unfortunate position. It had been used very widely, but since the beginning of the 20th century, the use of hemp began to fade. In climbing, it took a long time before artificial fibres got better for the production of ropes. The fact that one kind of hemp includes THC has clearly made a bad image to the hemp as a whole. I am not using hemp ropes and I am actually glad that I am using modern ropes so I can feel as safe as possible when I am climbing, but I still appreciate hemp as a crop. I eat hemp. Hemp seeds are a rich source of amino acids and proteins, they contain more proteins than most of the other nuts or seeds and in my opinion, they taste just great. Oil from hemp seeds is probably my all-time favourite oil for salads and pushes even average meals into another level. Furthermore, protein powder from hemp seeds is one of the most balanced protein powders from vegan sources you can find. It might not be the tastiest one, but putting a reasonable amount of it into your morning porridge is not bad at all.

Besides this, hemp has beneficial use in treating various problems. THC might have a lot of benefits, but in my opinion, there are a lot of risks involved. I believe the risk of THC is even underestimated. On top of that, I am an athlete that is under constant doping control, and even a small amount of THC could be a big threat to my career. Fortunately, there is CBD that is not addictive and no problem for my doping controls, and there is a wide range of CBD products that can be helpful for me as a climber.

The first thing that comes to my mind is enduring the pain while climbing. Climbing is fun, but usually, it turns into less fun if you are climbing hundreds of meters in a day, mostly pulling on tiny razor-blade crimps and you are being squeezed in tiny climbing shoes. Just like when I was climbing up on the Dawn Wall in Yosemite Valley. Sooner or later, you will start feeling pain, it is inevitable. Unless it is the pain from the injury, there is no danger of overcoming the pain, but it takes a lot of mental and physical power. The trick that most climbers do is swallowing a pain killer. It really does work! All of the sudden, climbing gets fun! And you can focus on climbing instead of constantly thinking about how to use your feet to minimize the pressure onto your toes. But pain killers might take you down physically, you will not be as powerful, on top of that, it is really bad for digestion especially when used frequently in the long run. CBD has a similar effect but without a negative impact.

The second situation that we are constantly facing as climbers is fatigue. In an ideal scenario, we would like to be climbing all day long, and wake up the next morning and just be as fresh as the previous morning. There are plenty of things you can do to enhance recovery - good sleep, high-quality food, cold/hot showers, stretching, rolling… And there are also recovery muscle creams. I would often put them on my burning forearms in the evening, hoping it would make miracles. But only recovery muscle cream that includes various herbs boosted with CBD makes me feel like it works. It might not make miracles, but I feel that I recover better.

Climbing is always about finding the tiniest details if you want to be on the top of the game. Sometimes, the difference between falling off and holding on is minimal. One tiny detail can be the difference between failure and success. CBD is one of those details that has been helping recently even closer to my absolute limit.

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