It took leaving the NFL for Rob Gronkowski to truly understand his own body.
The tight end stunned football fans when he announced his retirement from the New England Patriots in March at the age of 29. Seven months into the new chapter of his life, he’s feeling more connected with his own body than ever.
“I was beat down, I wasn’t myself, I was slow, I was thinking slow, my head was cluttered, my body was cluttered,” said Gronkowski on Thursday as he stretched out on a couch at a luxury hotel in downtown Toronto. “I’m getting rid of all that. That was my goal when I retired. Get rid of all of that. That was my only mission, I didn’t do anything else for three months.”
Gronkowski became one of the biggest names in football after the Patriots drafted him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He finished his career with 7,861 receiving yards, 79 touchdowns, five Pro Bowls and three Super Bowl rings over nine season in New England.
But that impressive resume came at a cost.
He’s had surgery on his ankle, his left arm (twice), his ACL and MCL, and a herniated disc in his back. On top of those operations, he had to miss games because or a pulmonary contusion, a hamstring injury, and a host of other bumps and bruises to his six-foot-six, 268-pound frame.
That near-decade of getting beat up on a weekly basis took its toll and by March, Gronkowski knew he had to put the focus back on his own health.
“I went through my 20s just getting through. Just doing things that I thought were the right way and the only way,” Gronkowski said. “But now I’m open minded and I understand that your body can go to a whole new level, doing different workouts instead of just lifting weights and trying to run full speed.”
A big part of his recovery from football has been daily physiotherapy treatment and the use of Cannabidiol — commonly known as CBD— an extract from the cannabis plant that can be used for pain management. Gronkowski is such a believer in CBD that he has gone into business with Abacus Health Products, the producer of CBD Medic, a topical ointment that he uses regularly.
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“I get treatment for one hour every day, minimum. Some days I get five hours,” said Gronkowski, who has his own line of CBD products slated to come out in 2020. “When I apply the topical ointment I give it a little massage, get the blood flow going without being in the agony from the pain.
“That’s how it works and that’s how it plays an essential role in my life. When I’m sore from my aches, from the bruises, from competing, from working out, I can apply it and get through the day and start promoting the healing.”
The use of CBD oil is still not permitted in the NFL and most other professional sports leagues. Gronkowski isn’t just hoping the rules change, he thinks it’s inevitable.
“I believe it’s going to happen eventually. All leagues are going to legalize CBD,” Gronkowski said. “I believe the research and development on it is going to show why it should be allowed. It’s not psychoactive, it’s all natural, it’s a great alternative to other painkillers. I believe it’s the safest way, too.”