Cannabis and Exercise: Is it OK for Athletes?

I think we can all agree that using cannabis is not just for “lazy stoners,” as the old stereotype goes. But did you know it has the potential to help athletic performance? Cannabis and exercise don’t sound like an obvious combination, so we are going to go over the basics of how athletes are using cannabis to boost endurance and ease pain.

You probably remember just a few years ago when professional athletes were criticized for even mentioning cannabis use, and who could forget the way the media chastised Michael Phelps? In the past, when athletes were caught using cannabis, it ruined their reputations and even careers. Fortunately, laws and attitudes about cannabis have changed (though league rules haven’t really kept up). Today some athletes are finally able to open up about the benefits for endurance and recovery they get by using cannabis during their training.

Does Cannabis Enhance Endurance?

Let’s face it, cannabis has rarely been part of the controversy surrounding performance-enhancing drugs, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have athletic benefits.  While it might not be the best option to promote quickness and agility, for many ultra-endurance athletes, it is the go-to supplement because of its ability to help keep them focused and reduce pain.

cannabis and exercise man running

The ultra-marathon champion Avery Collins credits winning a 200-mile Rocky Mountain race to the fact that he uses cannabis during his rigorous training (he doesn’t use it during races).  

Training for endurance sports can be tedious, boring, and incredibly hard on the body. Athletes who use cannabis before their training sessions say it makes it more enjoyable, enhances their focus, and helps them push through temporary pain. Essentially, they believe it gives them the physical and mental push they need to get through the most intense moments of training.

Cannabis and Exercise for Recovery

Cannabis can have some serious benefits when it comes to exercise recovery – both in easing pain and sore muscle and in reducing inflammation. Cannabis is considered by some to be an adaptogen because it is a natural plant that can help our bodies adapt to stressful situations.

cannabis and exercise women relaxing after exercising

After intense exercise, the body starts working to repair muscles by activating an inflammatory response. Cannabinoids – both CBD and THC – can interact with the enzymes that regulate that inflammatory response. They also can block pain and heat receptors that are set off after exercise, helping the receptors to modulate better how we sense inflammation and pain.

If you are going to try including cannabis in your workout routine, it’s important to know your limits. A potentially dangerous aspect of this combination is the euphoric, sedative-like effects reducing coordination and leading to injury. If safety is your concern, you might want to try micro-dosing before exercise, rather than getting super high. Another option is to use cannabis products with high CBD and low THC concentrations, so you don’t experience as many of the psychoactive effects while working out.

cannabis and exercise cannabis in vial

If you are ready to see how combining cannabis and exercise can improve your endurance and workout recovery, visit our online dispensary menu for a vast selection of flowers, concentrates, edibles, and topicals, to help you feel better whether you are pumping iron, training for a marathon, or just going on a hike.