New Research Reveals That Athletes Back Up Cannabis Use To Assist In Recovery
For athletes, proper rest and recovery is just as important for overall health and performance as training.
Athletes can benefit from both passive and active recovery. Aside from these, getting enough sleep is critical because lack of sleep can significantly affect your performance for several days. These practices work together to help athletes perform their best while ensuring they stay healthy from the inside out. That’s because recovery is necessary for the well-being of athletes, and just about anyone who exercises regularly.
There are several tools that can help athletes recover more efficiently. Over the past few years, there has been a growing interest among athletes and sports circles in the use of marijuana products for recovery. It’s been backed up by studies, too.
A recent study conducted by Kent State University researchers involved polling more than 100 participants who used cannabis while regularly performing resistance and/or aerobic training. The data, which was published in the medical journal, the Journal of Cannabis Research, revealed that cannabidiol (CBD) as well as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was found to be helpful for athletes in recovery.
“Twenty-two participants (20%) reported using CBD for recovery from aerobic exercise and 25 participants (23%) reported CBD use to recover from resistance exercise,” they wrote. Around 60% of them also used THC for the same purpose. When the participants were polled on whether they felt that cannabis was helpful for recovery, a majority of them answered yes (93%).
On the other hand, a majority of respondents who consumed THC said that it was used for the “pleasant feelings” it evoked as well as for fun and relaxation. They did say that they experienced side effects from using THC, which for them meant getting too high, uncontrollable laughter, sleepiness, and heart racing.
“The present study demonstrated that in addition to more traditional recovery methods, cannabis use is an ergogenic recovery aid by individuals that exercise regularly… More data are necessary to understand the role of cannabis in exercise recovery as well as perceived ergogenic benefits of cannabis by individuals who both regularly participate in exercise and habitually use cannabis,” concluded the authors.
Meanwhile, another study whose results were published in July 2023 in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research found that marijuana-consuming runners experienced a great improvement in their performance and even recovery because of pot. According to the authors, since marijuana use together with exercise has been attracting attention over the last few years, it has effectively contradicted the famous stereotype that marijuana users are lazy and sedentary. Because of this, they wanted to have a better understanding of the link between exercise and cannabis use by comparing the experiences of runners who consumed legal cannabis and non-using runners.
Forty-nine marijuana-consuming subjects whose ages ranged from 21 to 49 were then analyzed. They found that 3.88 miles was the average distance both groups ran. “Although participants ran an average of 31 seconds/mile slower during their cannabis run, this difference was not statistically significant,” they wrote. However, subjects “reported lower pain levels after their cannabis run,” they wrote.
“Results suggest that acute cannabis use may be associated with a more positive exercise experience among regular cannabis users. Research using varied methodologies, a range of exercise modalities, and diverse populations is needed to establish the long-term harms and benefits associated with this behavior, as well as the generalizability of these findings to other populations and settings,” the authors concluded.
How Else Can Weed Positively Impact Your Workout?
Depending on your experience with cannabis, you may find that cannabis use for athletic performance is either controversial or – makes total sense. But the science is there, and more elite sports groups have already banned cannabis testing, with more expected to do so in the future.
Additionally, athletes can’t deny the benefits. You don’t even have to be a professional athlete to yield the benefits of cannabis for your workout. There are many ways it can benefit your regular workout, such as:
Pain relief: Pain is one of the most established conditions that cannabis can effectively and safely treat. Both THC and CBD have been found to be successful at treating inflammation, including inflammation caused by strenuous workouts and muscle soreness, which lead to pain.
Stimulate your appetite: Weightlifters, boxers, or anyone who wants to build up mass and muscle can benefit from the appetite-inducing benefits of marijuana. The THC content in certain cannabis strains and products is known for its infamous effect of inducing “the munchies”, but use it properly by eating the right foods necessary to meet your target weight in a healthy manner. THC acts on the brain’s CB1 receptors, which are also responsible for regulating appetite. You can hit two birds with one stone: benefit from the pain-relieving and relaxing properties of THC while also stimulating your appetite.
A word of caution, though: if you have asthma or other lung disorders, it’s best to avoid smoking weed for exercise and/or recovery. Instead, opt to ingest weed in other forms that don’t pass through your lungs. There are many choices for that these days, including edibles, oils, beverages, tinctures, and topicals. Invest time in experimenting on various products recommended by budtenders at licensed dispensaries to improve athletic performance. Some fitness enthusiasts prefer CBD only, while others prefer a low THC/high CBD ratio or high THC. The results will vary depending on your body and your own athletic needs.
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