Higher, faster, stronger – the primary mantra of an athlete. Athletes and sports enthusiasts often put themselves under stress to strive for increased performance. And it can lead to several pains and soreness. Right now, a growing number of athletes and fitness enthusiasts are turning to cannabis. But does use cannabis in sports help to improve performance and recovery? Or what is the relationship between cannabis and sports?
Now cannabis is legal several US states and researchers are starting to debunk several myths about marijuana. At the same time, athletes and sports gurus are using marijuana due to its wellness benefits.
But is cannabis truly a miracle drug that enhances athletic performance? Or does cannabis imparts adverse effects on overall fitness?
How does Weed Affect Athletes?
Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant are known to provide therapeutic benefits without the side effects associated with other chemical drugs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or even opioids such as Tramadol often appeal to athletes.
Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system of our body that regulates many more body functions, including pain, sleep, memory, and mood.
Injuries that can be treated with cannabis range from minor to serious, depending on the activity and athlete, but the most common include:
- Swollen/sore muscles
- Dislocated joints
- Repetitive head trauma
Cannabis contains compounds called “phytocannabinoids” that are very similar to compounds the human body produces, called “endocannabinoids.” Cannabis cannabinoids interact with receptors in our bodies to help establish and maintain homeostasis, or balance. These same receptors, when stimulated by the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, can help alleviate a myriad of injuries and ailments. The most common medicinal benefits of cannabis include:
- Reduced inflammation
- Pain relief
- Brain trauma/neuroprotection
- Wound and bone healing
- Anxiety reduction
- Rehabilitation and recovery
Does Weed Help Muscle Recovery?
THC or delta-9 THC is a highly potent phytocannabinoid with more anti-inflammatory properties than aspirin and steroid hydrocortisone. These anti-inflammatory properties can have a serious impact on muscle recovery.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, the second most prevalent cannabinoid of the cannabis plant, has numerous health benefits. The non-psychoactive CBD has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticonvulsant, and anti-anxiety properties.
When THC & CBD combined, they produce entourage effects that help muscle recovery after a strenuous workout.
Benefits of Cannabis for Athletic Performance:
Here are some health benefits of cannabis consumption for an athlete.
One of the most promising areas of cannabis is the muscle and joint inflammation that results due to high workouts. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that helps reduce inflammation that worsens the pain. Athletes use CBD topicals to avoid the high effects of cannabis. Topicals and tinctures are incredible for a locally targeted area.
Ease Soreness & Pain:
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD & THC help in alleviating pain caused by athletic performance. Marijuana can help relieve pain caused by everything from chronic pain to muscle spasms.
Treat Muscle Spasms:
Another area of medical benefit of cannabis is help alleviating muscle spasms. For athletes suffering from muscle spasms, cannabis is an effective natural remedy.
The interaction of CBD with the endocannabinoid system that controls the sleep-wake cycle help imparting better night sleep. For an athlete, it becomes hard to get proper night sleep due to performance anxiety, stress, and pain. Also, the intake of cannabis-infused oil or edibles helps to reduce sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
Boost Mental Activity:
Sometimes an athlete can not focus on his game due to several reasons. At that time, intake of cannabis help reducing anxiety and stress to calm their nerves. Moreover, Cannabis act as a catalyst to achieve a meditative flow state crucial to success in athletics.
Side Effects of Cannabis Consumption:
Research is ongoing to prove the medical health benefits of cannabis in general. THC is a psychoactive cannabinoid that causes euphoria, while CBD is a non-psychoactive and safe cannabinoid to use.
Here are some risk factors involved in cannabis consumption.
- Damages Lungs
- Increased heart rate
- Impair motor skills
Smoking cannabis involves more risk than taking edibles and oils. Smoke cannabis directly goes into the bloodstream to impart sudden effects, while edibles bypass the digestive system and liver before reaching the bloodstream.
You can opt for CBD edibles or topicals that are safe and effective for athletic performance and recovery. Moreover, Cannabis and sports have fair relationships, as the antioxidant and other properties of cannabis help manage sports injuries and more.
Cannabis and Sports – Final Thoughts:
Cannabinoids of the cannabis plants are effective in mitigating pain, inflammation, anxiety, and more. However, before administering any form of cannabis, make sure to consult your doctor. Smoking cannabis is not fit for every athlete; you can incorporate other cannabis-infused products into your life regime.
The most common CBD-only product types include:
- CBD water
- Transdermal patches
- Sublingual sprays
These products allow people to utilize the different compounds within cannabis for an effective, non-invasive recovery. Whether you are relieving sore muscles after a long run or rehabilitating your body after a serious injury, cannabis helps you play harder, heal faster and last longer.