As weed continues to move from counterculture to mainstream culture, more and more big-ticket athletes are becoming open about their cannabis use. It includes both active and retired athletes.
While some sports, like cycling and basketball, are prohibited from using marijuana due to its impairing effects on reaction time, others aren’t. Regardless, many athletes swear by the benefits of cannabis before a workout.
Athletes are constantly in pain from training, competition, and the rigors of their profession. They’re also in pain from injuries and aches caused by the nature of their sport and by age. As a result, many turn to pain relief medications for help. But a growing number are turning to cannabis instead. Those seeking pain relief can choose from various strains and products, depending on their preference for both psychoactive and non-psychoactive components. For example, high-THC marijuana tends to have a euphoric effect and can cause the user to feel energized and focused. It can also lead to a feeling of well-being and relaxation. Then there are the non-psychoactive ingredients such as cannabidiol or CBD. Inflammation can be reduced, sleep quality can be improved, and even the immune system can be strengthened. Smoking weed has a mood-enhancing impact without giving the user a “high” feeling. But even though cannabis can help with pain, it’s important to remember that the drug does slow down reaction time, which can be an issue for some athletes. For that reason, it’s recommended to avoid using weed right before working out. Also, be careful when consuming edibles as they take longer to hit the system and could cause a crash in performance. For this reason, many athletes opt for vaporizing THC or a CBD blend that doesn’t contain THC.
As marijuana’s stigma starts to break down, more and more athletes are opening up about their use of cannabis. In many ways, this is great because weed can have some pretty cool health benefits that can help you improve your fitness and life. The most common reason athletes use weed is that it helps them relax before or after their workouts. They can perform better throughout their activities and recover more quickly from their movements because of their ability to lower tension and anxiety. It’s also been found that cannabis can have some pretty interesting effects on your brain. For example, it has been found that regular marijuana use can increase cognitive functioning in your brain. It is because consuming cannabis binds to certain receptors in your brain that stimulate your endocannabinoid system. The same system triggers the famous “runner’s high.” Having this system activated in your body can make you feel more alert and relaxed simultaneously, which is perfect for working out. Just be sure not to smoke it right before your workout because it’s been known to cause some people to experience what is referred to as morning drowsiness. It might be better for some sports because it can cause a loss of attention.
In addition to helping with recovery, cannabis can also enhance your performance during workouts. A study found that those who used cannabis an hour before working out and within four hours after could perform 43 more minutes of exercise per week than those who didn’t use marijuana. It is because using marijuana can help you focus during your workout and make it more enjoyable. It is especially true with Sativa-dominant strains, which have been known to give athletes a boost of energy and improve their focus. Many athletes report using cannabis before or during workouts to increase their motivation and ease recovery. For example, a marathon runner named Tyler Hurst says that he nominates a few edibles before long weekend runs and finds that it helps him to stay focused throughout the miles, making the run go by faster. He adds that the marijuana also relaxes his muscles after the workout, making it easier for him to foam roll and stretch post-run.
It’s Wednesday evening, and Andrew* is doing his standard cool-down routine after a long run. He stretches, drinks water, and eats a post-workout snack. He also smokes a joint. It’s just a part of his exercise routine, something he does before and after every workout. Athletes use weed to help them focus on their goals and the tasks at hand, which can be difficult in a sport like running, where there are so many distractions. The cannabis plant contains two main compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC has psychoactive properties and gives the user a “high” feeling. CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effects and is a great anti-inflammatory. There are some sports — notably the NFL and NBA — where athletes face harsh consequences if they test positive for marijuana. Those consequences, such as fines and suspension, have sparked debate about whether the drug should be included in banned substances. As marijuana becomes legal in more states, researchers are getting the chance to study the drug on a massive scale. Their findings are surprising, debunking several myths about the herb.