by Petar Petrov, Staff Writer for Terpenes and Testing Magazine
Cannabis, once a mistaken synonym of sloth, lethargy, frivolity, slow reactions, and basically anything else that goes against everything sports stands for, is paradoxically starting to gain popularity in different sports communities.
How cannabis affects sport performance and the overall experience is something sports and cannabis enthusiasts of all calibers are interested in. Cannabis can be both a catalyst for and a saboteur of a sport session.
Perhaps the most obvious classification of the different types of influence cannabis can have on sport performance is the distinction between pre-workout and post-workout use.
The right cultivar, combined with the right mindset, can get you in the sport zone faster and keep you at its center for longer than any protein shake. Cannabis is known to induce a state of euphoria, and while it may be slightly different from motivation in the traditional sense, it’s still close enough, especially in the short run, immediately before a workout session.
Renewed Energy and Focus
Many cannabis enthusiasts also find the flower to increase their focus or even help them find it in the first place. There isn’t really any scientific evidence per se to back this up, but it does sound somewhat plausible when you think about how the flower can alter perception. This change can occur by offering a different vantage point from which old becomes new, routine is filled with wondrous patterns and laws, repletion doesn’t leave your mind bored and instead it sends it daydreaming. This might be associated with the mental buzz the flower sparks and increased connectivity in cannabis users’ brains.
Furthermore, much of cannabis’s bad rap comes from its negative effects in large quantities on cognitive functions, which you also need for sports, contrary to what some may stereotypically believe. Even though that’s certainly a legitimate cause for concern, sensible cannabis use is a different story.
A new study led by Harvard Medical School Affiliate McLean Hospital's Staci Gruber, PhD, found evidence to suggest that medical cannabis use may actually improve cognitive functioning, especially in terms of the performance of “certain cognitive tasks, specifically those mediated by the frontal cortex” as Gruber puts it. (1)
The frontal cortex plays quite an important role in motor functions as well.
“Interestingly, two previous studies have noted a positive association between a history of [cannabis] use and improved cognitive performance on measures of psychomotor speed, attention, working memory, executive functioning, and verbal learning in patients with bipolar disorder compared to patients without a history of [cannabis] use,” Gruber continues.
Running and Repetitive Sports
In sports like running, where the long duration and repletion are seen as major obstacles, cannabis can be a powerful way to keep your mind entertained in its own world and remain undeterred by the long road ahead.
And when you think about music, which is one of the most omnipresent backdrops in sports, and the special relationship it shares with cannabis, it’s certainly not hard to imagine an epic, movie-esque workout session with you as the central character. Add an enhanced appreciation for scenery, and you might actually feel a strange urge to go for a run.
Technical, Game-Like Sports
In technical sports like football, tennis, basketball, etc., cannabis can be a source of creativity, as we know 50% of cannabis users believe the flower makes them more creative. (2) Even if it’s not creativity per se, but the relaxed, uninhibited state of mind that is perhaps cannabis’s most famous effect, can help an athlete slow down the chaos and spot the right decisions amidst a whirlwind of options.
The post-workout benefits of cannabis are more widely known and universally relevant. It has been thoroughly researched and proven that cannabis alleviates muscle soreness and inflammation, making it the perfect way to relax and heal your body.
Cannabis, and CBD in particular, has become extremely popular and praised in the fighting community as not only does the flower’s famous pain-relieving properties prove to be a real lifesaver, but CBD does wonders for migraines which are clearly one of the most common plights amidst fighters.
Even if for nothing else, cannabis can serve as a great reminder that sports are, by default, fun, imaginative games and/or activities which are metaphors for life, boiling down the challenges our existence poses to unique sets of rules and practices that are often more logical and just.
Cannabis has a way of revealing the bigger picture in which the insignificant disappears and the significant comes into focus, which is particularly helpful for professional athletes on their long, arduous journeys to the top.
Of course, cannabis is a relaxant, and too much of specific chemovars may shift the focus away from the sport activity and towards relaxation, which is obviously not the goal. For sports enthusiasts who don’t actually have to do sports, a puff or two too many is often all it takes to get the session postponed. And for professional athletes who need to make each session count and fight for perfection, going even a little overboard every now and then can be enough to lead to stagnancy in the long run.
Taking the edge off with some quality cannabis after a quality sport session may be a very rewarding feeling, but making a habit of it isn’t advisory as consuming cannabis too regularly can disrupt one’s normal routine, not to mention result in drowsiness the next day.
Chemovars for Sports
Obviously, pre-workout chemovars should be uplifting, generating euphoria, energy, happiness, mental sharpness. Suitable choices include Sour Diesel, Lemon Peel, Durban Poison.
Post-workout chemovars should first and foremost relieve muscle tension. From there, it depends on your plans. If you plan to go out and still be active, AK-47, for its combination of mild euphoria and bodily relaxation, is perfect. If you’re staying home, something heavier, like Black Domina with a movie will work like a charm.
Generally speaking, extracts are perhaps the best way to consume cannabis from an athlete’s standpoint as it allows consumption with higher precision, and precision is something that every athlete from any discipline strives for.
Gruber SA et al, Splendor in the Grass? A Pilot Study Assessing the Impact of Medical Marijuana on Executive Function, Front Pharmacol. 2016 Oct 13;7:355., [Journal Impact Factor = 3.831; Times Cited = 23]
Green B et al, Being stoned: a review of self-reported cannabis effects, Drug Alcohol Rev. 2003 Dec;22(4):453-60. [Journal Impact Factor = 2.294; Times Cited = 264]
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