These days, marijuana has far less of a negative social stigma than it used to. This is largely down to the recent trend of decriminalization and legalization of the plant across the USA.
The role of cannabis in sports is an often understated one, but not for long. There are now countless fitness gurus and sports stars who use weed as part of their training and athletic recovery process, trailblazing the way for its use in the mainstream and steering weed away from its social stigma of laziness and sedentariness.
Nowadays, you can head down to your local marijuana dispensary and pick up some cannabis legally in a variety of different products, opening the door for both medicinal and recreational users. But what if there is a third use?
You don’t have to look very far to find some famous athletes who advocate the use of cannabis in sports. One of the most high-profile events was back in 2016 when Nate Diaz smoked a vape pen containing CBD oil during his post-fight press conference after his loss to Conor McGregor in their high-profile rematch. This led to a full investigation by the USADA but did not eventually lead to any suspension.
When prompted about the vape pen that he was smoking, Nate responded:
“It helps with the healing process and inflammation. You can get these for before and after training. They will make your life a better place.”
With that being said, let’s take a look at the role of marijuana and athletic performance and how it can aid in recovery.
Sleep Quality and Quantity
As we all know, sleep plays a huge role in the athletic recovery process. There have been many studies that show its significance, with most showing a strong correlation between improved sleep and improved muscle recovery times, increased glycogen synthesis, and increased aerobic endurance.
Cannabis can help athletes to get a better night’s sleep by acting as a natural sleep aid without the need for harmful and addictive drugs. Cannabis contains many chemicals that help users get to sleep faster and stay asleep for longer, boosting their recovery times through improved sleep quality.
To improve athletes’ sleep quality, another option is CBD massages, it is a really helpful way to boost their sleep quality and quantity.
Like sleep, having the right diet is vital for athletic recovery. Protein plays a key role in muscle synthesis and must be consumed in high amounts if our bodies are to recover effectively post-exercise. For those of us that suffer from sluggish appetites, this can be a problem.
Fortunately, cannabis has appetite-inducing properties, commonly referred to as the munchies. It’s often prescribed as a treatment for appetite loss by doctors and can also be used by athletes who struggle to hit their daily calorie target. Just make sure you stay away from the candy!
Swelling and Inflammation
The swelling and information properties in cannabis are simply amazing. This is exactly the benefit that Nate Diaz was talking about when he mentioned CBD in his post-fight press conference.
CBD has extremely powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help with various conditions and problems that can arise from intense exercise. Injuries that occur during training are typically accompanied by swelling, so supplementing with CBD oil seems like an obvious solution to the problem.
A 2015 review published in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry found that CBD reduces inflammation through several pathways in the body, representing an effective potential treatment for a range of conditions characterized by inflammation. On top of that, CBD may prove to be an option for managing anxiety and chronic pain, which can result from intense athletic exercise.
Recovery Methods and Time
The best way to use cannabis for athletic recovery is to supplement CBD as soon as possible after your workout is completed. This allows marijuana cannabinoids to get to work immediately, helping to reduce general pain, muscle spasms, stiffness, and inflammation that can arise post-workout.
The good news is that you cannot overdose on CBD. Even when you take too much, it very rarely feels uncomfortable. THC is the compound that is responsible for the psychoactive experience that users feel when they smoke weed. If you take pure CBD oil, then you will not experience any of these effects, leaving your mind clear and your body benefiting from the recovery-boosting properties in the CBD.
This goes to show that marijuana and athletic performance complement each other very well, especially as cannabis has been shown to have very few harmful side effects when consumed responsibly.