With many states decriminalizing the consumption and possession of marijuana and athletes turning to advocate its use, a single decades-old question comes to mind: can weed enhance athletic performance? Marijuana has been considered an illicit substance for a long time, despite a myriad of positive effects it can have on the mind and body, such as pain management, anti-inflammatory properties, and stress reduction. Athletes from around the world are coming forward to advocate the use of cannabis in sports, promoting its healthful benefits and making a stand against censorship and baseless restrictions. Let’s see how weed can actually make you a better athlete.
Marijuana and its effects on your brain
Weed has more than 700 active compounds (known as cannabinoids); they combine with the receptors in your brain when you consume it through smoking, inhaling, or eating. Cannabinoids (non-psychoactive compounds) are known to control emotions, appetite, pain, and memory, and evoke that well-known relaxed and calm feeling. Because of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) flowing through your body, you will feel relaxed, with a sensation of euphoria and even drowsiness.
Runners tend to compare the state of a “runner’s high” with the effects of weed. Some of them say that consuming marijuana before a run primes your muscles and puts you in a winning mindset – instead of thinking about how much further they have to run, they rather focus on taking it step by step and simply enjoying the experience.
Our bodies produce cannabinoids naturally. One of them is anandamide, a cannabinoid compound similar to that of cannabis, found in people’s bloodstream after exercise. This means that we can mimic the natural process of increasing the levels of exercise-induced endocannabinoids, helping people increase their performance through increased enjoyment.
Marijuana as a medicine
Many NBA and NFL players are known to smoke weed, claiming that it’s one of the most effective alternatives to opioid painkillers. One of the biggest advocates for the use of medical marijuana in the NFL, Eben Britton (former NFL offensive lineman), says that weed is a medicinal herb that works as a potent and effective solution to both the opiate epidemic and concussions/chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Both NFL and NBA leagues believe that they are successfully stopping athletes from using cannabis; however, with only one random drug test a year, players are not overly concerned about getting caught. They prefer the herb to the use of painkillers, which are more addicting than marijuana.
Benefits of marijuana for recovery
Apart from causing a sensation similar to the “runner’s high”, marijuana has numerous other benefits. It acts as a muscle relaxer and a painkiller.
Marijuana can help alleviate muscle pain and soreness after exercise. However, combining marijuana with the right athletic clothing will yield even greater results. If you want to maximize your post-workout recovery, look for compressive gym wear online, such as shirts and leggings, that will maintain optimal blood flow to the muscles even when you’re not working out. While the active compounds will help with CNS recovery and muscle fatigue, proper clothes will help with lactic acid build-up, keeping your muscles warm so that you can hit your training session stronger than before.
Marijuana and a winning mindset
Certain studies show that marijuana can improve oxygenation of the tissues, improve concentration and vision, reduce muscle spasms, and help athletes forget traumatic experiences, such as injuries. Additionally, it can lead to more risk-taking behavior by increasing impulsive responses without affecting decision-making, which can be quite beneficial in a competition.
However, smoking cannabis can affect your lungs, so eating it might be a better long-term solution for endurance athletes. Athletes can also turn to vaporizers, which have a lower impact on your lungs. These are alternatives that won’t expose you to the toxic substances in smoke or harm your airways, but they can hit you harder and last longer.
With the authorities slowly decriminalizing marijuana and with the recently discovered benefits of the plant, we are witnessing huge marketing campaigns for certain cannabis strains in states where marijuana is legal. There’s even a competition called “420 Games”, launched in San Francisco, where cycling, swimming, and running are used to promote healthy cannabis use while exercising.
This stands to show that the effects of marijuana on your overall well-being, as well as the promotion of better sleep before a training session or competition, can prove to be immensely beneficial in helping you develop and maintain a winning mindset.
While there’s still an ongoing debate whether marijuana should be allowed in professional sports, its numerous benefits for your performance and general well-being are indisputable. Its effects can help you become a better athlete in more ways than one, and can be used to support a healthier lifestyle by acting as an antidepressant, neuroprotectant, and pain reliever.
Written by: Luke Douglas
Luke is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.