Marijuana continues to be deemed illegal and dangerous to our health, even today, when many countries have legalized it. What can you do when it’s hard to shake off old beliefs? There are always (at least) two sides to every story when you consider the people who don’t find consuming marijuana unethical, but use is for inspiration, relaxation, and social bonding. Some bodybuilders use it as an aid, claiming that marijuana and training provides added force and focus to their lifting routines, while others avoid it because they believe it’s detrimental to their training.
What is the relationship between marijuana and training and the reasons behind it becoming a popular trend among athletes? Cannabis is used as an anti-inflammatory and pain-relief aid, as well as for avoiding anxiety, boredom, and fatigue during their recovery periods and exercises.
Marijuana and Training: Feelings of Bliss After A Workout
The THC in marijuana, the element that delivers the psychoactive effect, is received by the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. The endocannabinoid system has an important role in the regulation of memory, emotions, pain-sensations, and appetite. A research was conducted at the University Medical Center of Hamburg-Eppendorf by Dr Johannes Fuss, who investigated “runner’s high,” the neurobiological mechanism that mediates the emotional benefits after exercise. He has concluded that the endocannabinoid system plays a critical role when it comes to the emotional aspects of training.
Cannabis – a performance enhancing substance?
Does marijuana make you feel stronger and help you endure intense workouts, or does it turn you into a couch potato? Whatever the general effects of THC may be, it all depends on your body’s chemical reactions. The effects vary from one individual to another.
In spite of being prohibited in the world of athletics, cannabis is at times found in athletes of all levels of performance, as revealed by doping control tests. It leads others to believe that it may enhance performance, but that is only partially true. Smoking too much marijuana will definitely decrease your performance and expose you to a greater risk of injury, caused by psychomotor alterations.
However, athletes, like runners, climbers, skiers, and snowboarders have praised cannabis for the benefits it provides their performance. Clifford Drusinsky, a Colorado gym owner, has told Men’s Journal in 2014 that marijuana relaxes him, allowing him to “go to a controlled, meditational place.” Some skiers said that, when skiing after the weed kicks in, they experience a slight, but very functional high that simply makes them a bit more fearless (however, while this may be good for an experienced skier, it can be a dangerous move for a novice). This can be explained this way: when the THC hits our cannabinoid receptors, it leads to an anxiety decrease, making an athlete feel somewhat more aggressive, which is a natural reaction to the drug.
Now, this is the effect of marijuana that every athlete can benefit from, regardless of the sport. Marijuana has been recognized as a substance with great anti-inflammatory effects. Smoking moderate amounts of weed or consuming quality medical marijuana concentrates can help people deal with inflammation and pain, while improving their mood and decreasing anxiety levels, because the chemical compounds from the cannabis can mimic endorphins produced by the body. This can make it easier to go through a hard workout by increasing the pain threshold and make marijuana and training perhaps a viable path.
Marijuana also helps us mentally, by helping us deal with negative experiences and memories that may bring us into a state that prevents us from reaching our maximum. It also promotes muscle relaxation and improves sleep time (the importance of sleep for an athlete can’t be stressed enough).
Marijuana and Training – Couch Potatoes?
There is a stereotype concerning people who smoke weed – they are all couch potatoes and can’t be athletic. However, it is just because these athletes aren’t often outspoken about their experience. There is enough evidence that cannabis can help people deal with inflammation and pain, increase appetite, regulate sleep, improve mood, and reduce anxiety. On the other hand, it also has bad side effects in the form of decreased psychomotor functioning, which could lead to injuries and accidents. Some people simply get high and their muscle memory locks in, having them feel like they can’t miss. On the other hand, some people take a few puffs or bites and fall apart.
If you’re interested in trying cannabis as a form of aid in exercise, make sure you do you research on types of cannabis in order to find the one right for you. In case you have taken too much, it would perhaps be better to give up on going to the gym, at least until the high subsides because the relationship between marijuana and training is still up for debate.