Since marijuana began to take ground with legalization in different US states and full legalization throughout Canada, scientists have begun to wonder…
What is the impact of marijuana on sports?
Before answering this question, we will analyze the Canadian situation regarding pot and sports. Despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada at the internal level, there have been no major modifications regarding its regulation with athletes. In the first place, we must point out that the Canadian Anti-Doping Program (CADP) continues to consider the use of weed as an illegal substance among Olympic and university athletes despite the advances in legal matters that ganja has had in the country. All of this is really important, even more so when an Olympic-level athlete such as American Sha’Carri Richardson who was disqualified from the Tokyo Olympic competition for testing positive for marijuana.
The athlete claims that she has used cannabis to deal with the grief caused by the death of her father and not to gain a competitive advantage. In the United States, they convicted the athlete, stating that she had violated the regulations of the country’s Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Now, to begin to answer the question that we have posed, we must say that there are few studies, and none conclusive, that determine whether cannabis has any substantial effect on the performance of athletes.
Then Why are so many athletes or sportsmen choosing to consume ganja responsibly?
Some American athletes in categories such as enduro races or ultra marathoners may provide us with the answers to this question. According to athlete Tyler Hurst who has also been a cannabis enthusiast for more than 5 years, the herb helps him to keep his muscles relaxed and to feel connected with the environment when he runs and is high, allowing him to perform at his best.
Another important testimony is the one delivered by Percy Harvyn, former NFL star, who publicly declared that smoking marijuana before games helped him control anxiety and headaches. We will now focus on the benefits and risks of using cannabis in the world of sports. We will start with the benefits that weed provides in its athlete users.
1- Reducing inflammation
CBD appears as one of the great allies of athletes because this element of pot helps to relieve muscle pain among athletes by reducing inflammation. According to the director of Yoga Ganja Guru in Colorado, Adam Brous, Cannabis in oils or topical creams plus cannabis tinctures are remarkable in recovering the affected areas, however, they must be highly concentrated doses. Another case that affirms the benefits of weed and especially CBD is former university athlete, Jamie Feaster, who suffered an achilles tendon injury and underwent treatment with CBD.
2- Relieving pain in athletes
Marijuana relieves body pain, therefore, this is a great alternative to change opiates that in a large number of cases generate addiction. Chronic and acute pains generated by muscle spasms are alleviated by weed.
In the United States, some fitness trainers support the use of pot among athletes for muscle recovery and muscle pain relief. Today, some studies have shown that ganja has anti-inflammatory, stress reducing, and antioxidant powers.
Some opiate users are affected by critical states and in certain cases, there are medicated people who have even attempted suicide due to the addictive and abusive effect of these substances. It is here where cannabis becomes a comprehensive solution because it not only relieves pain, but also helps mentally and improves the quality of life of medicinal cannabis users.
3- Reducing and treating muscle spasms
Pot has proven to be a solution for diseases such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, caused by muscle spasms. Some specialists claim that cannabis can help more oxygen enter the tissues, helping to reduce muscle spasms. Athletes speak out and request that more studies be done to learn more about cannabis and its benefits in athletes, both among those who suffer muscle spasms and those who do not. Currently, the problem is that there is no scientific evidence in humans, only small tests on animals.
4- Improving the way you sleep
Cannabis is known to also help people sleep. Perhaps that is one of the effects most required by users of varieties that are rich in THC. That’s not all because it has also been found to help suppress dreams, an issue that benefits people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
CBD can help people with a sleep disorder called Rapid Eyes Movement (REM) where those affected tend to lose muscle tone and rapid eye movements are generated. CBD also helps alleviate daytime fatigue. Dreams and good sleep are essential for the human body. Weed is one of the great allies for people who suffer from pathologies related to bad sleep and it helps athletes to improve their sports performance. Now, these benefits must be taken with care because some studies have shown that doses of equal parts (1 part THC and 1 part CBD) help people to have less sleep and also to improve their performance the next day.
However, that is not conclusive because other analyses have been carried out with people who consume THC before sleeping and these users woke up more sleepy and with impaired memory. Another benefit that cannabis provides in its users is that it helps to replace the pills and chemicals used to sleep as has been verified in different online surveys where people have expressed the abandonment of the pills that generate dependence due to use of pot. That is why we will have to wait for the emergence of new studies, to know with certainty what is the most beneficial way to use weed for sleep and for athletes.
5- Helping mental work
Nature Medicine published a study in 2017 that was carried out on old mice that pointed out that cannabis helps the mental work of the cognitive functions of the brain.
Some athletes and coaches claim that weed has helped them to concentrate on their workouts and practices and also to reduce anxiety. Cannabis can act as a catalyst in certain people and in the case of athletes, it helps them enter a state of meditative flow that is essential for good performance.
Can cannabis use improve an athlete’s performance?
David McDuff, sports psychiatrist and professor at the University of Maryland, who also has an authoritative voice on this subject, affirms that according to some studies, cannabis use has negative effects on athletes because it affects skills such as motor coordination and mental alertness. However, the specialist is cautious since, as previously stated, the scientific evidence is scarce.
Another of the voices that has investigated the effect of weed in athletes is Whitney Ogle, professor of Kinesiology at Humboldt University in California. This specialist has carried out a series of online surveys where she has collected certain data on reducing anxiety and sleeping better being associated with the consumption of cannabidiol, a compound also present in cannabis, known as CBD. The Anti-Doping Association of the USA eliminated this element from prohibited substances.
Evidence collected by researcher Ogle determines that smoking marijuana before exercise helps athletes stay motivated and makes the experience more enjoyable. Despite the above, it is unknown if there are any beneficial effects or if people simply perceive themselves to perform better under the influence of marijuana, says Whitney Ogle.
Although there is little scientific evidence regarding the point discussed above, it is possible to reach some preliminary conclusions regarding CBD or Cannabidiol. Current studies have determined that CBD helps “protect the brain” in cases of traumatic brain injury.
Some sports where contact is frequent such as rugby, boxing, mixed martial arts, among others and the head is affected by blows spreading the impacts to the brain, concussions are imminent. This can lead to headaches, cognitive disturbances, sleep disturbances, and behavior changes.
Qualities such as the anti-inflammatory character of CBD, the stimulation of anandamide production and enzymatic hydrolysis, and/or a decrease in adenosine reuptake are characteristic of Cannabidiol and help athletes avoid anxiety, aggressiveness, or depression. This is typical in athletes who are exposed to high intensity blows.
This was reflected in a study that concluded that the application of 51mg / day of CBD to athletes helps them to counteract the negative effects of the sports they practice that can cause them harm.
We have talked about the benefits of cannabis in athletes and studies that, despite being scarce, shed a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, now we have to talk about the possible risks that athletes can face when using cannabis.
1- Lung damage
At this point, it is good to clarify that the correct way to consume cannabis for an athlete is not to smoke it. This is because it can irreversibly damage your pulmonary system, in addition, harm your sports career. For the same reason, the consumption of cannabis in the form of edibles is ideal because it turns out to be healthier and friendlier on your lungs.
Also, we must clarify that if you are an athlete who consumes cannabis edibles, try to acquire those rich in CBD and 0% THC so that you avoid the high effect and also because this substance is penalized by the different anti-doping agencies.
2 – Loss of motor skills
Using cannabis can seriously affect decision-making and motor coordination. This can make certain activities difficult such as riding a bike or jumping a hurdle in a track and field race. Therefore, the consumption of marijuana or derivatives is recommended after a competition or after a training session. Some specialists affirm that cannabis should not be applied when performing resistance exercises because it decreases the reaction speed and the overall stability of the athlete.
To the above, we must add the important evidence that has been found in recent years, which tells us that weed should not be given to adolescents because it decreases cognitive capacity, an issue that is inverse in older people whose cognitive ability is stimulated.
3- Risk of heart attack
Exercising under the influence of pot increases the risk of a heart attack because the consumption of weed is associated with a racing heart. Anyone with heart problems should consult a doctor beforehand. Also, if you want to consume cannabis, we recommend edibles after doing your exercises. Now you know the effects of cannabis in sport, both the positive and the possible negative that can occur. The path you want to take is in your hands. We recommend consulting with a specialist before making a decision.
It is important to note that your health is always the first priority for us that you are well. This makes us happy because we want to see you optimally and 100% healthy. Do not forget that if you are going to participate in sports, it is better to consume marijuana after training and it is necessary to emphasize that the varieties rich in CBD or CBG may be the best for you.
Here, the edibles are essential so we invite you to avoid smoking weed because it can cause health problems. If you are going to consume marijuana edibles, keep in mind that they are of low power so that you do not get high and do not put yourself at risk during your sports routines or competitions.