5 Ways Marijuana Enhances Athletic Performance
The extensive legalization of marijuana in many global jurisdictions means that it is now more accessible for recreational and therapeutic purposes. Nonetheless, the position of cannabis in sports is still highly contested. Competitive sports still ban participants from using cannabis. Although there is a need for more research on the use of marijuana in athletic performance, the available studies point out cannabis’ benefits in sporting activities. But what does cannabis do, and can it enhance athletic performance? This is the question many want answers to.
There is no doubt about the therapeutic benefits of lab tested marijuana seeds. The medical benefits packed in these seeds and buds can improve chemical functions in the body, making them useful for managing various conditions.
1. Can Enhance Relaxation And Reduce Anxiety
There is no evidence that marijuana can directly enhance athletic performance. However, athletes who use cannabis for recreational purposes believe that it may improve their performance. On the contrary, research shows that cannabis use does not directly increase muscle strength. What is now clear is that while marijuana may not aid muscle strength, it influences various chemical pathways in the body, which may improve endurance.
Cannabis’ ability to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety can indirectly improve performance. Think about your ability to achieve your fullest athletic potential when you are anxious. Meager levels of anxiety can benefit performance due to increased brain arousal. But too much anxiety affects performance negatively. When anxiety level reaches a point where it hinders performance, you can benefit from the anxiolytic and sedative effects of cannabis.
Many athletes suffer anxiety before a competition, and microdosing on cannabis can help reduce anxiety. Such small doses will also relax your body and mind.
2. May Reduce Inflammation And Muscle Soreness
One of the biggest worries for athletes is muscle soreness. If you work out a lot, you should be familiar with muscle soreness. That soreness is a part of an athlete’s life, and you can’t avoid it if you need muscles to grow or maintain their strength. The cause of that muscle soreness is inflammation. You will experience a sensation of discomfort about a day or two after intensive exercise. If it is so intense, you might think it is a muscle injury, but it isn’t.
When your muscles stretch during training or heavy physical activity, the muscle fibers begin to break down. The fibers then reassemble and repair into larger, stronger muscles. This means that you are getting more robust, and the muscles are preparing to handle the heavier load.
While muscle soreness is normal, it could affect your performance or even derail your training. All athletes, including bodybuilders, experience muscle soreness. The difference is how you manage or respond to it. Cannabis is packed with anti-inflammatory properties, and since inflammation is the primary cause of muscle soreness, managing inflammation will help you treat soreness. Cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid derived from cannabis, is an anti-inflammatory agent that you can buy over the counter if cannabis is legal in your country. CBD has multiple applications in inflammatory conditions. Currently, CBD is used to treat and manage symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
You don’t have to worry about smoking cannabis to get CBD into your body. There is a range of CBD products ranging from oils to tinctures that you can ingest or apply topically. If you feel soreness on a particular muscle, you can just rub CBD ointment on the affected part and leave it to do its wonders.
3. Can Improve Sleep
You must be wondering what sleep has to do with athletic performance and cannabis’ role in it. Did you know that the quality of sleep you get could affect your athletic performance and the outcome of competitive results? High performing athletes know that adequate rest and quality sleep is key to winning. Sleep is an integral part of the recovery process. When you sleep, you give the muscles time to recover and adapt between bouts of exercise.
On the contrary, lack of sleep deprivation raises the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Lack of adequate sleep is also known to hinder glycogen production, which is the energy store for your muscles during exercise. Sleep redirects energy to the brain. When your sleep is interrupted, the brain fails to consolidate and repair memory and release hormones vital for performance and muscle recovery. So, getting adequate sleep helps athletes with recovery, enhancing performance when faced with multiple competitions.
If you suffer from sleep problems, and it is affecting your athletic performance, marijuana can help. This phenomenal plant's relaxing properties help restore the natural sleep cycle, making it a useful sleep aid. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another cannabinoid from cannabis, can activate the CB1 receptors that control sleep. In doing so, THC enables the user to fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
4. May Ease Pain
Pain and exercise go hand in hand. Persistent pain, though, can affect performance or even keep you from taking part in your favorite sports. But the pain that athletes experience comes from tissue damage and the resulting inflammatory response.
Exercise or intense physical activity tears the muscles, enabling them to enlarge and grow. While this process is essential, it can result in unbearable pain. Luckily, clinical trials show that administering THC and CBD is effective in managing nociceptive pain.
CBD targets pain through two channels. One way is by controlling the inflammatory response that results in pain, while the other is by inhibiting the body’s response to pain. If you experience pain resulting from training, then cannabis products can help relax your muscles and relieve the associated pain.
5. May Improve Focus
Cannabis users also believe that the supplement can improve their mental acuity and help athletes focus on performance. While research in this area is limited, some athletes are already experimenting with it and reporting positive results. While there are many reports that cannabis can help boost concentration, the caution is that dosing is critical. You have to get the dosage right to get the desired results.
CBD supplements have become common after the widespread legalization of cannabis. But cannabis usage in sports is still illegal, not because it is considered an enhancer, but for safety reasons. With that in mind, you should not use cannabis if you are taking part in competitive sports. If you are taking it for personal use, you should talk to your trainer or therapist first.