Cannabis has a long and mostly clandestine relationship with sport.
The plant medicine is supposed to be more natural and less harmful to the body than over-the-counter products like NSAIDs (e.g., Ibuprofen, Advil, and Aleve) or ointments like Icy Hot and Tiger Balm, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibits it for being a “risk to health” of athletes and “in violation of the spirit of sport.”
High-level athletes may have a complicated relationship with cannabis where competition regulations are concerned, but that doesn’t mean that the average weekend warrior can’t learn from what’s trending in the pro-cannabis athlete division.
Changing attitudes = more reasons to use cannabis
Gruelling training sessions can have a significant impact on the mind and body. That’s why many athletes are turning to marijuana for its anti-inflammatory and pain reduction qualities.
The evolution of attitudes and cannabis policies around the world may play an essential role in changing use patterns of marijuana among athletes. It’s less unusual to see an athlete publicizing their use or views of cannabis, especially when it pertains to their training regime and recovery rituals. It seems that athletes are now using cannabis for far more than pain and inflammation.
Going forward, we are going to hear more about athletes using cannabis to burn through the anxiety and mental blocks that inevitably precede performance, competition and training. It’s possible that we’ll also hear more from those who use it claim that it helps them get into the “zone” to concentrate on repetitive activities and muscle movements.
Not to mention the critical gains made in the exploration of cannabis as a treatment for concussions.
An end to combustion
Inhaling smoke is not an ideal delivery method, which is why many cannabis-fueled athletes are using edibles, vaporizers, or oral formulations as lung-friendly alternatives. Some are even choosing to create edibles at home and experimenting with different strains, THC to CBD ratios, and potencies. For those not inclined to do the cooking themselves, plenty of sports-focused edibles and supplements have jumped into the industry in recent years, meeting the growing demand for athletic performance and recovery products with a cannabis boost.
With a variety of studies correlating cannabis with anti-inflammatory support, muscle recovery, and pain relief, it’s become the latest super ingredient to be added to athletic supplements.
Speaking of CBD…
WADA’s drug-testing protocol prohibits THC and other cannabinoids. CBD products, however, are accepted. As CBD product sales soar, the number of athletes willing to open up about using it may eventually rise.
CBD is all about the relief without a psychedelic high—a low-risk entry point that fits with many athletes’ training and health requirements.
“CBD gummies” was one of the most Googled terms in 2019. It’s getting hard to go a single day without hearing about or seeing CBD, and the innovation in the space is skyrocketing, with CBD transdermal patches, topical creams and salves, and cannabinoid-rich drinks.
The verdict is still out on all of the benefits of all of these new products, but there’s a growing body of anecdotal evidence from high-level athletes for whom the plant and their sport intersect that they work, and more gently than the pharmacy alternatives.