For an athlete, their body is their work. Their performance—and their paycheck—is dependent on the condition of their body. It puts a huge pressure on them to stay healthy, able-bodied, and competitive.
At the highest echelons—the NFL, NBA, NHL, etc—athletes have access to the best medicine and physical therapy available, the most cutting-edge practitioners. Why, then, are so many athletes from so many different fields turning, of all things, to cannabis? And what exactly is the effect of weed on exercise?
The Plague of Painkillers
“[Painkillers] just destroyed my life. I almost fell asleep behind the wheel. My blood pressure was up, I was sweating at night… finally, I said, ‘I gotta stop this stuff.”
These are the words of Bas Rutten, a former UFC champion fighter. He was professionally punched in the face for over a decade. Years and years of training, sparring, and fighting take their toll, and chronic pain is practically a given in the UFC.
The common prescription? Opiate painkillers like oxycontin. Rutten was taking up to 8 per day. The same pattern plays out through the entirety of professional sports. The physicality of their work takes a tremendous toll, but the relief offered by conventional medicine is almost as bad as the pain itself.
Cannabis and Recovery
Now, Rutten is one of the founding members of athletesforcare.org, an organization of former professional athletes from the UFC, NFL, NBA, and NHL promoting cannabis as an alternative medicine for recovery and pain.
Freed from the necessity to keep up an image, these athletes are finally speaking up about the relief they experience with cannabis. It relaxes stiff, sore muscles, is a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory, and is a godsend for anyone suffering from chronic pain.
Rutten estimates that at least 80% of the UFC use cannabis for recovery. Other insiders estimate at least half the NFL uses it the same way.
According to former NFL offensive lineman Eben Britton, “It’s a medicinal herb that provides the only potential solution to both concussions, CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), and the opiate epidemic.”
The Effect of Weed on Exercise
Beyond recovery, however, other athletes find cannabis to be performance-enhancing. While some studies show that cannabis slows reaction time and worsens hand-eye coordination, endurance athletes like fitness expert Ben Greenfield and triathlete Clifford Drusinsky swear by it as a training aid. Drusinsky even trains under the maxim “Get High, Train Harder!”
Endurance sports are a somewhat different category than fast-paced team sports like hockey or basketball that require a sharp situational awareness and lightning fast coordination. In endurance sports, the competition is internal. The barriers are your own mind and body – a relationship that is intimately regulated by the endocannabinoid system.
In fact, the endocannabinoid system is now thought to be the true source of a runner’s high, replacing the previous theory of opioid-receptor-mediated endorphins.
Looks like biology itself chooses cannabis over opiates for sustainable highs as well as recovery. And scientists? They seem to agree as well: the effect of weed on exercise isn't only unique, but uniquely positive.
CBD and THC: Which Works Better?
Cannabis recovery can be a little bit confusing, but for most body-oriented processes, CBD is the better choice. It is a more powerful anti-inflammatory and has a more pronounced effect on the body. When it comes to “the zone,” however, a little THC may provide a more effective biochemical shortcut to the sweet spot every runner and endurance trainer perpetually seeks.
Are you an athlete looking for a safe alternative for treating your pain, or upping your mental game in endurance sports? Clear Choice has several medical products as well many strains of cannabis on their menu that can help. Contact us or visit us and chat with our knowledgeable budtenders for the best advice on which products to choose for the result you want to achieve.