E-sports injuries : is CBD the answer?
As any gamer will tell you, e-sports aren’t just mentally taxing—they can also present significant physical challenges. It’s not easy to sit in the same position for hours and hours at a time (even in a high quality gaming chair). Aches and pains in your back, neck, shoulders, arms and even legs come with the territory of playing e-sports.
But the most common—and also the most dreaded—e-sport injury is the RSI, or repetitive strain injury. An RSI is what happens when you make the same movement repeatedly and at a high frequency for an extended period of time. There is only so much your muscles, tendons and joints can take of this before they start sending out pain signals to your brain. They’re telling you they need a break.
RSIs and gaming
Runners experience RSIs in their knees and feet. Baseball pitchers get them in their elbows and shoulders. And gamers get them—you guessed it—in their hands and wrists. Gamer’s thumb, gamer’s wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome … these are terms that most e-sports players are certainly familiar with.
The tricky thing about RSIs is that they’re insidious. Unlike other injuries, they don’t occur suddenly; rather, they happen incrementally over time. An RSI may begin with some minor pain or stiffness that’s easy to ignore and play through. But gradually the injury becomes more aggravated, and the next thing you know you can barely grip your controller.
Athletes hate being forced onto the sidelines due to injury, and e-sports players are no exception to this rule. The goal is to treat the problem and get back into the game as quickly as possible. To that end, we’re going to investigate CBD as a potential remedy for e-sports injuries.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is one of the key components of the cannabis plant, from which both marijuana and hemp derive. Along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD has a major influence on how cannabis affects our bodies and minds.
CBD and THC are both chemical compounds called cannabinoids. While there are more than 100 known cannabinoids, these two do the lion’s share of the work. In what is known as the “entourage effect,” CBD and THC collaborate to produce the health benefits we have come to associate with cannabis, including relaxation and pain relief.
Left to their own devices, however, CBD and THC are very different. Unlike THC, CBD does not make you high. Instead, it has been shown to relieve:
CBD may also help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels, although more research is needed.
Because it is neither intoxicating nor addictive, CBD made from hemp is fully legal in the United States. It can be purchased in countless forms, from capsules and creams to bath bombs and pet food.
How does CBD work?
In the ’90s, researchers discovered what they dubbed the endocannabinoid system. Essentially, our bodies produce molecules that are similar to the cannabinoids found in cannabis. Hence the term endocannabinoid (endogenous cannabinoid).
These endocannabinoids work by binding to receptors to alert the whole system that there is an issue (pain, inflammation, stress, etc.) that needs to be addressed. Many of these receptors are concentrated in our central nervous systems, but they can be found throughout our bodies.
When ingested, cannabinoids like CBD and THC work in a similar fashion. They interact with your endocannabinoid system by binding to said receptors and producing various effects. This in turn provides relief from a number of symptoms.
Should you use CBD for e-sports injuries?
Many e-sports injuries, as we have seen, are caused by repetitive strain. If you play on a PC, you’re more likely to suffer RSIs in your wrist. For console players, the most common location is the thumb. Either way, you’re going to experience discomfort, specifically pain, swelling, stiffness, numbness and tingling. It’s important to treat these symptoms before they become severe, and CBD can help you do just that.
In 2018, researchers found that cannabinoids—including CBD—are effective in managing several types of chronic pain, including inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain and cancer pain.
A couple years earlier, a study analyzed the effects of topical CBD on pain and inflammation in rats with arthritis. Following just four days of treatment with a CBD gel, there was a significant reduction in joint swelling and pain. There were no evident side effects.
In addition to peer-reviewed studies, there’s a wealth of anecdotal evidence backing up CBD as a good treatment option for e-sports injuries. Over the past couple years, several high-profile sports figures have come out in favor of CBD as a safe and effective supplement for athletes. These include soccer star Megan Rapinoe, former NBA player Al Harrington, and four-time Super Bowl champ Rob Gronkowski.
If it works for them, there’s a good chance it will work for you, too.