Examining CBD's Relationship to Professional Surfing, and Its Effectiveness

Professional surfers have certainly gotten on the CBD bandwagon. But does the stuff work? The author had to find out for himself. Photos: Unsplash

The Inertia

I’ve written about Cannabidiol (CBD) before, in terms of its emerging role in professional surfing. However, I’d never taken CBD consistently and recorded the results. To enhance my quest to find out if CBD can help our surfing, I needed to become a patient and make the stuff a part of my routine, like my morning cup of dark roast. 

Lazarus Naturals out of Portland, Oregon sent me three products to try out: the full-spectrum “relief and recovery” CBD balm stick, full-spectrum CBD soft gels, and full-spectrum CBD tincture. Their product-use recommendations were to use the CBD for relaxation after my activity (surfing), focus, and sleep. 

To put it lightly, I was skeptical, despite the fact that many pro surfers have made CBD part of their daily health regimen. While a study in 2021 by the National Library of Medicine concludes that the use of CBD by athletes to improve recovery and reduce fatigue is “promising,”  the evidence is inconclusive and, there is simply an overall lack of data regarding CBD’s efficacy, even as it is pitched as a wonder-drug at coffee shops, gas stations and coffee shops all over the country.

One last thing to note is about CBD dosage. Available research tells us that different CBD treatments utilize different dosage levels. Some clinical studies have varied oral doses from 100 to 800 milligrams, but the emerging sweet spot for anxiety and sleep appears to be around 25 to 75 milligrams; for severe anxiety 100-800mg is recommended. Like anything else, dosage depends on body weight, tolerance, and whether the individual is using existing medications and supplements. For the last month, my dosage has been one 50mg soft gel every morning, and then about 50-100mg of tincture before bed. 

I am not a doctor, and I do not play one on Instagram. Plus, I’ve only used the products consistently for one month, and I’ve taken sporadic notes. I’m not suggesting that one individual’s experience should be used in place of vetted studies, but I’m hoping to use my, albeit limited, experience to shed a little more light on the topic. 

In any case, here is what I’ve noticed:

Focus in the Water and Beyond

I have a light case of anxiety that has culminated in the very rare panic attack – one of which occurred in front of a class of college seniors during one of the busiest months of my life. Typically, a hard workout in the morning (a run or a surf usually) or a glass of wine in the evening – or two – can serve to mellow me out a bit.

Surprisingly, I have found that I feel less overall anxiety throughout my day when I take CBD in the morning. There’s no dramatic sensation, and it took a few days to perhaps work its way into my system amid the coffee, tacos, and the occasional Corona. However, the slight mellowing sensation is most noticeable when I’m working. It keeps my mind from racing and makes it easier to focus on reading, writing, editing and so on. 

Since I typically get in the water in the mornings, I’ve noticed this feeling carrying over into my surfing. CBD appears to make me a bit more relaxed, allowing me to fully enjoy the surf session, and feel lighter and more focused on my waves as opposed to distracted by real-world concerns. I’d been wondering absently why I, overall, feel a little lighter, a little more optimistic lately, and I have to attribute that, at least in part, to CBD, since I haven’t changed anything else. In fact, as an experiment, I stopped taking it for one day, and noticed the feeling ebbed.

I also noticed CBD’s effects on a drive I took on unfamiliar mountain roads in a borrowed car. Normally, sketchy roads and, at one point, a group of motorcycles on my tail, make me tense up. I had no such problems. I’m hoping that the next time the waves get larger than my comfort level, I’ll feel more at ease.

Muscular Recovery:

I have the amassed injuries of someone who threw themselves off kickers in the snowboard park irresponsibly, and only half-successfully, in their 20s. Tendinitis in my shoulder, permanently strained neck, bulging disc in my back, even shin splints from my soccer career to compliment tight hips and hamstrings. Surfing for me is never completely painless, but I’m lucky that I get to surf most days and have many friends who are much worse off, injury wise. 

In terms of pain relief, I also find that I’m not taking as much Advil when I surf, which I sometimes take before or after a session, or both, if I get worked by the waves – yes, I’m that old. It’s also possible that the slight mental uptick is linked to the sensation that my body is more mobile since everything in our bodies is connected.

Post-Surf Relief:

I’ve tried a lot of stuff on my neck soreness, which is the result of an old injury that is aggravated by surfing. Icy Hot, Bio-freeze, heat, ice, stretching. When I slather on the CBD balm after I surf, I get a good dose of relief. It could be in part the menthol and capsaicin; a chili pepper extract with analgesic properties. Yet, some of the strongest available evidence about CBD’s efficacy is based on topical use. I’ve also used the balm on my shoulder, where I have muscle tendinitis that sometimes makes popping up a strain. Overall, I’ve recorded a respectable amount of relief in those worn muscles.

A Good Night’s Sleep:

For most of the nights I have used it, the tincture – which seems stronger than the soft-gels – appears to help me get to sleep more quickly. I’m no stranger to being up at 4 a.m., my mind running through to-do lists and future concerns. Not sleeping well, of course, makes everything in life much more difficult, including surfing. When I don’t sleep well, I struggle to make it to dawn patrol, and I feel sluggish out there, my head cloudy. So, in an indirect manner, the CBD tincture has helped my surfing by helping me to feel more alert in the morning. I should add, however, that there have still been nights during which I take the tincture and still struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep, so it is not, for me, a foolproof formula. But it’s been successful enough that I’ll continue to investigate whether CBD – or other combinations of CBD and CBDV – may be able to take the onus off melatonin and other sleep aids I’ve used.

Overall Reactions

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by my notes over the last month, if not 100 percent a convert. I do realize that this could be a placebo effect, but if I feel even slightly better, does it matter where the feeling originates? If CBD can even slightly lower my anxiety, help me cut down on pain relievers like Advil, and enhance my sleep, it may be worth continuing with it for my overall health, as well as my surfing goals. 

However, although Lazarus Naturals keeps their prices lower than many competitors and offers discounts and assistance programs for those who qualify, taking CBD consistently remains an investment. If you’re on a budget, like me, the benefits must be weighed alongside the financial toll. 

I’m going to continue with CBD for a couple more months and see where I’m at then. Hopefully this helps you make an educated decision regarding CBD, surfing, and your health. 


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.