Why Athletes Are Turning To Cannabis For Recovery


How Athletes Are Using Cannabis

People often turn to cannabis for wellness purposes. And that should be no surprise, considering that the cannabis plant has been used that way for over a thousand years

However, there’s also a group of people who swear by cannabis and are already healthy and fit. Professional athletes and frequent gym-goers alike have recently turned to cannabis, especially cannabidiol or CBD (a major non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in both hemp and marijuana) to bring their workout and their recovery to a higher level. 

Why athletes are turning to cannabis 

“I wish I had known about the benefits of CBD much earlier,” David Ahrens, a former Indianapolis Colts player, told Men’s Health earlier this year. Since THC (the other main cannabinoid known for its intoxicating, euphorigenic high) is on the list of banned substances in professional sports, most of the enthusiasm about cannabis and physical fitness surrounds CBD, which was removed from the list of banned substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2018. 


Connor, an avid runner, rock climber and former competitive rower, uses CBD before runs. “It allows me to push myself harder during my intervals. I also notice a much stronger runner’s high when I take CBD,” he says. 


Tiki Barber, Matt Lombardi and Ricky Williams are just a few of the many athletes who have invested in or otherwise entered the CBD business. A group of athletes even funds the organization Athletes for Care, which advocates for further research on CBD and offers resources for those curious about it. 


Cannabis for post-workout recovery… or before?

In recent years, we’ve learned that what we do before and after our workouts is just as important as what we do during them. Proper preparation and recovery both help prevent injuries as well as post-workout soreness and fatigue, ultimately optimizing performance.  


As Verywell Health reports, soreness after exercise is largely caused by small tears in the muscle that lead to inflammation. That’s where devotees believe cannabis comes into play: Cannabinoids like CBD are thought to ease this natural response and so may prove extra beneficial to the post-workout scenario in the long term. 


Rachael, a former ballet dancer who works out six days a week, tends to get knots in her shoulders. “I started using a CBD muscle relief cream a few days a week at night, and I wake up with reduced tension,” she says. A Bustle reporter who used CBD before and after her workouts for a month also wrote that “taking CBD following my exercise routine seemed to slightly decrease my recovery time.”


But should you take CBD before or after your workout? In an interview for The Outdoor Journal, Dr. Joseph Maroon—the team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers—explained that “it can be taken before or after workouts or any time inflammatory effects are experienced.” 


At this point, the benefits of cannabis for athletes is based on purely anecdotal evidence. But as Thorsten Rudroff, exercise scientist and the director of the Integrative Neurophysiology Laboratory at Colorado State University, told U.S. News & World Report: “CBD for exercise-induced inflammation is absolutely the next big area we need to explore.” 



3 Older Adults On Why They Use Cannabis  

It’s no surprise that cannabis, a plant maligned for decades, is making its way back into the positive public light. It’s not shocking that, slowly but surely, states are passing laws to legalize cannabis not just for medical purposes, but also for recreation. It may be a surprise, however, how many of us have parents, grandparents and in-laws who have become regulars at their local dispensaries. 


It’s hard not to wonder: Why is cannabis so popular with the 65-plus population? And just how popular are we talking? 


According to a Colorado State University study, CBD use among seniors is quickly rising. In fact, almost 4% of adults age 65 or older have reported having used cannabis in the past year. And while that might not seem like a staggering statistic at first, it’s a more than tenfold increase from 2007, when that number was 0.3%. 


Jim, who at 76 years old is still working full-time and traveling regularly, often wakes up feeling stiff, especially after long flights. “I tried a 1:1 CBD-to-THC cannabis formulation, and it really helped me feel agile more quickly in the morning,” he says. Jim typically uses a sublingual oil, but also has a vape pen on-hand since he can feel the benefits almost immediately with inhalation. “I wish my state would legalize it for recreation so I [could have] access to more brands and formulations,” he says. 


Katrina, 69, reported trouble getting a restful night’s sleep for over a decade. “I use CBD oil when I wake up in the middle of the night,” she says. As someone who did not use marijuana recreationally for most of her life, except occasionally in her 20s (“It was the 70s after all”), she feels she has rediscovered the plant entirely. “I’ve come to believe that cannabis has been given a very bad rap. And if we all read up on the history of cannabis in our country, we’d realize that mistakes were made,” she says.


While the minds of our senior citizens appear to be changing, it seems the rest of us are having trouble keeping up. Out of the 136 seniors surveyed in the University of Colorado study, more than 100 mentioned problems with access to cannabis and barriers to getting a medical marijuana card. 



Author: Gretchen Lidicker

Gretchen LidickerGretchen Lidicker is a writer, researcher, and author of the book CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide To Hemp-Derived Health & Wellness. She has a masters degree in physiology and complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University and is the former health editor at mindbodygreen. She’s been featured in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Forbes, SELF, The Times, Huffington Post and Travel + Leisure.

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