Cannabis has long been associated with relaxation and mellowing out, but in recent years, athletes have discovered its benefits for performance enhancement. The use of cannabis in sports is gaining popularity as more athletes are turning to it as a tool to help them perform better, whether they are professional athletes or just fitness enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore how cannabis can be used to boost performance, what types of cannabis products are best suited for athletic endeavors, and the potential benefits and drawbacks of using cannabis for athletic performance.
The Science Behind Cannabis and Athletic Performance
Before diving into how cannabis can enhance athletic performance, it’s important to understand the science behind it. Cannabis contains over 100 different cannabinoids, but the two most well-known are THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” associated with cannabis use, while CBD is non-psychoactive and has been associated with pain relief, relaxation, and reducing inflammation.
In terms of athletic performance, THC has been shown to have some benefits as well. It can help reduce anxiety and promote a feeling of relaxation, which can be helpful for athletes who struggle with pre-competition jitters. Additionally, THC has been shown to have pain-relieving effects, which can help athletes who are dealing with injuries or chronic pain.
On the other hand, CBD has been shown to be particularly effective in reducing inflammation, which can help athletes recover more quickly after a workout or competition. It can also help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, making it a popular choice for athletes who want to improve their sleep quality or manage stress levels.
Types of Cannabis Products for Athletic Performance
There are a variety of different cannabis products that can be used to enhance athletic performance, including:
Cannabis flower: This is the most common form of cannabis and is typically smoked. It can be used to help with anxiety, pain relief, and relaxation.
Edibles: Cannabis edibles are foods or drinks that are infused with cannabis. They can be a good choice for athletes who don’t want to smoke and want a longer-lasting effect.
Topicals: Cannabis topicals are creams or lotions that are infused with cannabis. They can be applied directly to the skin and are particularly effective for pain relief and reducing inflammation.
Tinctures: Cannabis tinctures are liquid extracts that are typically taken sublingually (under the tongue). They can be a good choice for athletes who want a fast-acting and discreet method of consumption.
Benefits of Cannabis for Athletic Performance
Pain Relief: One of the most common reasons athletes use cannabis is for pain relief. Cannabis can help reduce pain and inflammation, which can be particularly helpful for athletes who are dealing with injuries or chronic pain.
Relaxation: Many athletes struggle with anxiety or nervousness before a competition or workout. Cannabis can help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety, which can help athletes perform at their best.
Sleep Quality: Cannabis has been shown to help improve sleep quality, which can be particularly helpful for athletes who need to get enough rest to perform at their best.
Focus: Although some strains of cannabis can cause a “stoned” feeling, other strains can actually help improve focus and concentration. This can be particularly helpful for athletes who need to stay focused during a competition or workout.
Real World Examples of Athletes Using Cannabis for Performance Enhancement
While the use of cannabis in sports is still controversial, there are some high-profile examples of athletes who have publicly advocated for its use. For example, former NFL player Rob Gronkowski has spoken publicly about using CBD to manage pain and inflammation from his playing career. Additionally, former NBA player Al Harrington has been a vocal advocate for the use of cannabis in sports and has launched a cannabis brand specifically aimed at athletes.
In the world of mixed martial arts, UFC fighter Nate Diaz made headlines when he pulled out a vape pen and started using CBD oil during a post-fight press conference. Diaz cited the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD as the reason for his use.
The Bottom Line
While the use of cannabis for athletic performance enhancement is still controversial, there is growing evidence that it can be helpful for some athletes. THC can help with anxiety and pain relief, while CBD can help with reducing inflammation and promoting relaxation. There are a variety of different cannabis products available, including flower, edibles, topicals, and tinctures, each with their own set of benefits and drawbacks.
However, it’s important for athletes to carefully consider the potential drawbacks, including impaired judgment, respiratory issues, and legal and testing concerns. Ultimately, the decision to use cannabis for athletic performance is a personal one, and athletes should carefully weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks before making a decision. As with any performance-enhancing substance, it’s important to prioritize safety and always follow the rules and regulations of the sports organization you are competing in.