Cannabis and athletics have been a staple in the headlines recently. From the high-profile exclusion of Olympic-caliber athlete American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson from this year’s games due to cannabis, to professional leagues like the NFL, the UFC, and MLB loosening up their long-held prohibition against any forms of cannabis use. Plus some high-profile current and former superstar athletes have come out and gone on record about their use of and support for cannabis, particularly for recovery.
With all of these headlines about athletes at the top of their respective sports, however, the role that cannabis can plan in helping regular people recover from regular workouts is often overlooked.
Can Cannabis Help After a Workout?
As more and more states and nations around the world are ending their multi-decades-long War on Drugs, we’ve seen a deeper understanding of the role cannabis can play medically. Research shows that cannabis is effective in reducing inflammation all over the body, easing pain, and reducing anxiety, just to name a few things it can do for people. So it only makes sense to use cannabis to help recover from taxing workouts.
For example, research shows that cannabis users often exercise more than non-users. Researchers surveyed 600 cannabis users in California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington about the impacts of cannabis on athletic performance and the results were stunning. Those who used some form of cannabis an hour before working out and/or within four hours after their workout reported getting 43 more minutes of exercise each week than those who didn’t. Early research from UC Boulder even shows that using cannabis before you workout increases your motivation to workout in the first place!
This article is going to break down the role that cannabis can play in helping people recover from their workouts, whether they’re world-class athletes or just average joes, the science behind how exactly it works and what it does in your body, and which products to use to help you recover most effectively. Let’s get right into it!
Easing Muscle Soreness With Cannabis
If you’ve ever finished up a hard workout and then have felt soreness the next day, then you know firsthand how unpleasant DOMS can feel. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) can be extremely acute and can last for several days. Obviously, if you’re in a ton of discomfort, it will be harder to get yourself mentally or physically prepared to give your best effort at the gym next time. Thankfully, cannabis can help fight those DOMS off.
At this point, science shows that the link between cannabis and pain relief is rock solid. But why? What about cannabis exactly is doing that magic inside your body? While we;ve gone into great detail here on Leafwell before about the ways that cannabis works to reduce pain, it’s worth considering that role in athlete recovery. Less painful leftovers from your last workout means being able to go to the gym the next day with less soreness, which means you can push harder and get the best workout possible that next session.
Reduction of Inflammation with Cannabis
CBD has long been touted as the medical miracle that will thrust the use of cannabis for athlete recovery into the mainstream. As we’ve seen over the last few years, that claim has turned out to be mostly correct.
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High-profile professional athletes like Megan Rapino, Rob Gronkowski, and many others have gone on record to detail how CBD helped them recovery quicker, ease the pain from nagging injuries so they can get back on the field quicker, and the role it plays in easing their anxieties and helping them focus on their workouts and recovery.
That’s because of CBD’s incredible ability to ease swelling and inflammation. That function is essential when it comes to recovery because, at its core, working out is damaging the muscles to build them back stronger. Less inflammation means the body can focus on building that new, lean muscle instead.
If athletes are looking to get the most out of their CBD use, however, they should consider adding a little bit of THC into the mix. We’ve talked about the entourage effect here on Leafwell before, but research has definitively shown that 1:1 cannabis products are more effective than CBD or THC isolated themselves. For the best anxiety-reducing, pain-numbing, and inflammation-reducing effects, people are best reaching for that 1:1 the next time they’re at the dispensary.
The Bottom Line of Cannabis and Workouts
No matter how you slice it, it’s clear that cannabis can help most people recover after their workouts in some way, shape, or form. Whether it’s easing the soreness from lifting heavy and that hard work you just put in at the gym or helping you feel better afterward so you can work out again sooner, cannabis clearly has a role in recovery.
As science and the legal and medical cannabis industry have developed over the past two decades or so, we’ve seen a massive variety of cannabis products come to market. Whether you’re a medical patient or not, some form of hemp-derived CBD product can be found at most health food stores around the country.
If you’re looking to take your recovery from workouts to the next level, consider mixing cannabis into your post-workout routine.