Now that marijuana is legal in some regions of the United States, experts are beginning to debunk some marijuana myths. At the same time, weed’s societal stigma is starting to fade so much that sports and fitness experts who tout weed’s wellness advantages are challenging the notion of sluggish and overweight stoners. Is marijuana a miracle drug that boosts athletic performance, or do its side effects outweigh its benefits?
Cannabis is the world’s second most popular recreational substance, after alcohol. As more countries legalise recreational cannabis, public acceptability grows, and scientific study into cannabis administration to alter psychological and physiological functioning expands to include purposes in medicine and beyond. It involves potential implications for athletic performance; yet, due to legislative restrictions that have limited its study, the empirical argument for or against cannabis use in sports remains murky.
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Cannabis and Sports
There was something unusual in the air in Tokyo for the 2021 Olympic Games. The endorsement of CBD-based products by an increasing number of athletes was a particularly significant component of last year’s Games that may have gone unnoticed by the general audience. The summer Olympic Games were most likely the first large sports venue to have so many athletes participating in a variety of disciplines who used cannabis for performance and recuperation.
This demonstrates that cannabis use is gradually rising, even at the highest levels. However, it is not just cannabis. CBD, one of the major active chemicals in marijuana, is also being utilised to help muscle function and joint rehabilitation without the athlete experiencing the “high” effect caused by the other active ingredient THC.
Unlike CBD, marijuana and its active component THC are now prohibited from use in competition by the World Anti-Doping Code. As a result, one of the highlights of the recent Olympics was the suspension of USA top athlete Sha’Carri Richardson, who tested positive for cannabis. Although governments around the world are becoming accepting of THC and cannabis in general, it appears doubtful that the drug would be legalised for usage at big sporting events.
Benefits of Cannabis in Sports
1. Soreness and Pain Relief
Cannabis has been shown to relieve pain in addition to its anti-inflammatory qualities. This is one area of cannabis research that has produced multiple positive results. According to studies, marijuana can reduce pain caused by everything from chronic pain to acute pain caused by muscular spasms, which is fantastic news for anyone looking for alternatives to dangerous, habit-forming opiates.
2. Improve Your Sleep
THC is well known for its ability to promote sleep, but studies have revealed that it can also aid patients with sleep apnea and inhibit dreams, which is good for those suffering from PTSD. Meanwhile, CBD can help with REM sleep problems and weariness during the day. Because everyone understands the importance of sleep in overall fitness, this can be incredibly useful to your athletic performance.
3. Muscle Spasm Treatment
Another medical application for cannabis is in the treatment of muscle spasms. Cannabis has been demonstrated to be effective in treating muscle spasms caused by disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, and its benefits may apply to athletes suffering from spasms as well.
How Does Marijuana Affect Your Body?
When someone smokes marijuana, THC enters the bloodstream and binds to cannabinoid receptors on nerve cells, resulting in a “high.” The chemical also has an impact on the portion of the brain that regulates memory, concentration, pleasure, and coordination. Immediate side effects of the medicine include loss of coordination, difficulties thinking, and skewed perception.
There haven’t been numerous studies that show cannabis improves sports performance. More data suggests that THC has a deleterious impact on eye-hand coordination, focus, and stamina. However, WADA noted that cannabis can improve performance by assisting some athletes in relaxing and focusing before the competition, which could affect results.
CBD, on the other hand, appears to have a more promising future for the time being. According to the Cannabis and Athletic Performance study, CBD “may have some promise for improving athlete pain and recovery through a number of potential mechanisms,” although its use by sportsmen is more inclined to be important for recovery between training and competition.