How Marijuana Affects Athletic Performance

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It’s not a secret that many professional athletes and amateurs are in constant search of legal doping, which would allow to show better results in the gym, on the field or in the ring. Marijuana stands out on the list of drugs repeatedly used by many world sports stars. Despite the general interest of the scientific community in the medical properties of this plant, to date, not much research has been done on the effect of marijuana on health and physical performance of athletes. And there is no direct connection between exercise performance and cannabis intake.

At the same time, the vast majority of studies in this area focus on the negative effects of tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on the body as a scientific hypothesis. However, some research indicates the positive effect of marijuana in such sports disciplines as running.

The main positive effect of using marijuana, noted by many researchers, is a psychological effect. The plant helps athletes control stress and promotes relaxation of the whole body after intense training. Marijuana also contributes to a healthy sleep, which is especially important before important competitions. And today, there is a strong evidence base for a beneficial therapeutic effect of marijuana in controlling different forms of stress.

In 2011, a large-scale study was carried out, which revealed such positive properties of cannabis for athletes:

  • More intense oxygenation of the muscle tissue;
  • Improved concentration;
  • Improvement of sight;
  • Acceleration of recovery from the injury;
  • Control of muscle spasms and pain reduction.

In the states where recreational marijuana is allowed, athletes can take it to enhance the efficiency of training process and performance. However, it is recommended to consult with your doctor before combining serious physical activity with cannabis.

Researchers talk about the need for the large-scale research of the effects of THC and CBD and their influence on physical performance. In this, it should be understood that any form of smoking negatively affects the respiratory system. Therefore, marijuana consumption via smoking or vaping can objectively harm an athlete’s endurance. Those who prefer cardio exercises should use other non-smoking forms of marijuana.

How smoking marijuana affects muscle growth

One of the most urgent issues is the effect of weed smoking on the muscle growth. Given the fact that cannabis improves muscle oxygen saturation, many researchers make informed conclusions that marijuana makes muscles grow faster. This theory has not yet found scientific confirmation, and therefore it is too early to talk about it. However, many athletes note a subjective increase in the rate of muscle mass gain.

Another important aspect is that marijuana provides deeper relaxation after intense physical activity, which promotes better restoration of the muscle tissue and general recovery of the athlete’s tone. The better a muscle rests, the faster it grows. Therefore, the relaxing effect of cannabis can really support the theory of the positive effect of cannabis on the muscle growth.

Since muscle growth mainly attracts bodybuilders, this audience is most interested in the answer to the question how smoking marijuana affects weight gain. Bodybuilders who count on a wonderful result should remember than weed negatively affects the muscle tone and acts a relaxant. Therefore, weightlifting and marijuana are incompatible, since the work with heavy weight requires a maximum muscle tone. This tone may well be violated by the systematic use of the natural relaxant in the form of marijuana. As for the other, more dynamic sports, here the weed can really help improve the results, but only under the supervision of your trainer and attending physician.

Smoking weed after workouts (pros and cons)

While the use of weed before and during workouts is rarely practiced by the athletes, similar procedures after the training process are a quite acceptable practice for many professionals and amateurs. Among the positive effects caused by smoking weed after training, athletes note:

  • Deeper muscle relaxation after the exercise;
  • Body restoration via a sound sleep;
  • Decrease of the general background stress.

The main negative effects of using marijuana after the training are:

  • Effect of marijuana resin on the body (dyspnea and heart problems);
  • Psychedelic effect of tetrahydrocannabinol;
  • Decreased overall tone and immunity.

Doctors recommend using only edible forms of marijuana after the training. This minimizes the negative effect on the respiratory system, providing the athlete with the desired endurance potential. At the same time, you should remember about the negative effects of cannabis, which can affect the athlete’s performance. They include:

  • Change in the way you think and make decisions;
  • Impaired memory function and concentration;
  • Gradual formation of addiction to marijuana;
  • The whole spectrum of negative effects of smoking as such.

Conclusion

So far, legal use of recreational marijuana is allowed only in 11 states. This state of affairs significantly narrows the possibilities for an objective assessment of the effectiveness of marijuana for enhancing the performance of athletes. However, the law becomes more and more tolerant of recreational cannabis every year, which means that all necessary research will be carried out in the near future, which will definitively confirm or refute the positive effect of CBD on the physical condition of the body.

At the same time, many athletes are already legally using medical marijuana within the framework of the therapy prescribed by the doctor. The sports community is rather skeptical of the intake of all forms of cannabis by the athletes, even despite a number of positive effects described above.

It is interesting that marijuana (by WADA qualification) is included in the list of prohibited doping. However, cannabidiol has been removed from this list in 2018. This suggests that CBD-containing strains of marijuana with a minimum content of THC can really be considered as an effective legal aid in training.

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