Weed for Sports Performance and Recovery
Weed has amazing anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving components that help with injuries, spasm and other problems that athletes face.
An increasing number of athletes are using weed to enhance their performance due to its ability to enhance focus, reduce anxiety and eliminate feelings of fatigue.
Plenty of anecdotal and preliminary research exists to support using weed for these purposes, although studies aren’t specific to sports enhancement. For example, adults with ADHD often medicate with weed because it helps them relax and focus—some even prefer it over prescription medications. A study that came out earlier this year found preliminary evidence supporting weed use for ADHD.
Meanwhile, CBD has been shown to have anti-anxiety properties by mediating receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system. And finally, those with conditions that can lead to fatigue, like depression and stress, often report that using weed can energize them and help them function. While not traditionally thought of as an energizing substance, several weed strains are known specifically for giving users a boost—among them are Durban Poison, Green Crack, and Ghost Train Haze.
Weed’s anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties can help athletes recover from training and injury, and its powerful pain-fighting abilities are already being advocated by those seeking alternatives to opioids. Athletes looking to recuperate after an intense workout tend to use CBD for its anti-inflammatory properties. CBD plays a part in how our bodies process pain, and there’s already a large body of preclinical evidence that can vouch for the molecule’s ability to treat different acute, inflammatory and neurological pain.
Hemp can also work in concert with opioids to magnify the pain-relieving properties of these narcotics, leading to overall reduced opioid use. In fact, CBDs are so effective in fighting the pain that some athletes have turned to weed in lieu of opioids—regardless of whether their sport deems its use legal. Many studies have found that a high percentage of people regard weed as effective or more effective than opioids in pain management. Given all of these reports, it comes as no surprise that pro athletes are also using weed in this manner.
Another property of weed that makes it especially useful in contact sports is neuroprotection. Both CBD and THC have shown neuroprotective properties in various studies, but the exact mechanism of how these molecules help preserve brain cell function and structure needs to be further studied. Researchers cite the many ways this might occur: from activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors to direct action on nerve cells. A 2017 review article concluded that phytocannabinoids showed therapeutic promise for traumatic brain injuries, further cementing reasons why this plant is so popular among NFL players—many of whom suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of degenerative brain disease that arises from repeated impacts to the head.