Apr 21, 2016 6:00 PM

New Runner's High: Can Weed Make You Better Athlete?

In the case of weed, there is plenty of scientific evidence of the potent medicinal properties of this plant: it relieves pain and stress, improves focus, accelerates metabolism, relaxes muscles, and so on.

It may seem that the words “sports” and “marijuana” cannot be in the same sentence, but they actually go hand in hand.

Every year, nearly 500 people run the 4.2-mile San Francisco Marathon as a part of the annual 420 Games, and half of them admitted to using medical cannabis before the race. The 420 Games is a series of sports events that combines weed and activism with health and wellness pursuits. It was organized in order to de-stigmatize medical pot and debunk the stereotype of marijuana users being lazy, unmotivated “stoners.”

All this raises the question about marijuana's impact on your workout. Is it safe to use pot while working out? Does it help? How to use it for getting the best results?

Cannabis Gives Athlete Extra Boost

There is nothing new for potheads in the fact that the human body stores the principal psychoactive ingredient of cannabis—tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC)—in fat tissue. However, a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that exercise may elevate blood THC levels by releasing dormant THC from fat stores. That means that the storage process can give you an extra boost during a workout, even up to 28 days after cannabis consumption.

As the body begins to burn off the fat, some amount of the cannabis component is released into the bloodstream, which produces an effect similar to consuming a small amount of marijuana. THC blood levels increase immediately after the moderate workout by nearly 15 percent and is no longer present a couple of hours later.

Pot Activates Endocannabinoid System in Brain

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of receptors for interaction with the cannabinoids that the body naturally produces. This system creates a natural cannabinoid involved in a variety of psychological processes, including mood, appetite, memory, immune function, pain-sensation, and many others.

Numerous studies showed that the ECS is associated with physical activity, obesity, and the related metabolic disorders. When you exercise, the ECS releases the active components that can help you cope with the stress of physical activity. So, consuming weed before the workout can be your extra dose of these protective qualities.

Some athletes say that THC and CBD ease anxiety and increase the pain threshold, so they can push themselves during the training.

Pre-Run Toke Increases Body's Endurance

An endurance athlete may benefit from the pain-numbing and bronchodilatory effects of cannabis to successfully get through the training session, and a mixed martial arts fighter is actually able to experience a combination of pain relief, focus, and high concentration. However, it works positively only under the condition that the amount of consumed weed is moderated and is not more than 100 mg of THC. In other cases, the plant could become a recipe for disaster.

A lot of pot studies showed that ingesting or smoking marijuana decreased the reaction time, lowered attention, and disrupted perception and hand-eye coordination for up to 36 hours after usage. Thus, one could conclude that consuming weed before a complex game requiring fine motor skills like ballroom dancing or basketball game is not the best idea.

Smoking Weed After Working Out Helps Your Muscles Recover

Everyone who has ever experienced a super hardcore training knows how painful the next few days could be. Luckily, athletes have something to help them survive this difficult time.

According to the study from the journal Sleep Medicine, marijuana helps athletes bounce back from a day of vigorous workout. Thanks to its relaxing and relieving effects, the small amount of plant can be safely used for a healthy performance recovery.

Smoking weed after working out means the end of the muscle pain. Moreover, it is definitely safer than swallowing a bunch of Ambien or Vicodin.

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