Since the current situation in the US sees cannabis being legal for recreational use in 9 states , we have seen a new type of user emerge in the most unlikely of places. In the world of sports and more specific endurance athletes.
Cannabis can have a great number of effects that are advantageous for the endurance athlete.
It is clear as more and more athletes come forward to say the substance is helping them improve focus, ease exercise-related pain and boost recovery in between workout sessions and races.
Whats the link between cannabis and exercise.?
If you take the right dose for starters you can have a very positive impact on training really quick. The bronchodilatory effects of cannabis allows for better oxygen delivery which is why some athletes add it in their schedule.
Lets examine the connection.
It Provides Pain Relief
Cannabis can be an effective analgesic, helping reduce pain both during and after exercise. it has a great across the board effect on pain of all forms musculoskeletal, inflammatory, neuropathic and so forth.
Patients using cannabis will report less muscle soreness, stiffness and pain post-workout
Speeds up recovery
When you get injured, your body’s endocannabinoids begin working to prevent signals from your pain nerves (also called nociceptors) from reaching your brain.
And just as cannabis can decrease pain, CBD salve can also help speed recovery following a workout or race. This is a great benefit for endurance athletes, who typically don’t have a lot of downtime in between practice sessions. Cannabinoids can work right along with our inherent healing system to promote better recovery.
It Enhances the “Runner’s High”
If you’re active, chances are you’ve experienced — or at least heard of — the “runner’s high” phenomenon. Well, cannabis may help runners feel this sensation more easily.
Those who experience the sensation of runner’s high describe it as a moment of greater focus and clarity. And though a runner’s high is often attributed to endorphins (hormones secreted by the brain and nervous system that create a pain-numbing effect), it’s really caused by endocannabinoids, as shown by a 2015 study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In other words, runner’s high is caused by our bodies’ own version of cannabis.
“All of these things cannabis can do for athletes, athletes are already doing for themselves using components of their inner pharmacy,” Sulak says.
But these athletes aren’t smoking pot like your typical stoners. Sulak says endurance athletes typically use drops or sprays that are administered directly to the mouth. The THC gets absorbed through the blood vessels in the mouth, which means it kicks in pretty quickly (between 15 and 30 minutes). Drops and sprays also work at an intermediate duration, roughly four to six hours, whereas inhalation would last two or three hours.
According to Sulak, cannabis primarily enhances the runner’s high effect by altering an athletes’ perception of time. That’s mostly thanks to the THC. It helps people become less preoccupied with the past and potential future and more present in the moment. The result: greater focus and reduced anxiety.
Safety and Potential Side Effects
In spite of its potential benefits, cannabis use does come with inherent risk. Because dosage is highly variable from one person to the next, it’s not a self-medication situation, and it’s imperative that each individual work to find the dosage that’s right for him or her.
“Someone that wants to get high and use cannabis for recreation will be using a lot more than someone who’s trying to use it to perform optimally,” Sulak says. “If someone goes past their optimal dose and gets impaired, then it’s going to detract from their performance.”
In the wrong dosage, cannabis can alter the perception of risk, impair coordination and movement and confuse time estimation, thereby increasing the odds of accidents and injuries, according to a 2011 review in Sports Medicine.
Cannabis use, even if infrequent, can also lead to slower reaction times, sedative behavior and trouble remembering things, according to another 2006 review in British Journal of Sports Medicine. And when used long-term, cannabis may lead to a drop in cortisol (also known as the “stress hormone”) and testosterone, which has negative implications for athletes.
“Both of those hormones are really needed to be able to crush a workout,” Greenfield says. In addition, cannabis use may inhibit the secretion of human growth hormone, which aids in building muscle, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Cannabis is still illegal in the United States as a whole as well as in the majority of individual states. Those interested in using medical cannabis to enhance athletic performance should first consult the laws and regulations in their area. Even in states where cannabis is legal, it is recommended that people seek advice from a medical professional to determine proper dosage.