How Does Cannabis Affect Exercise Recovery?
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has gained a lot of attention in recent years for its potential medicinal properties and recent legalization for recreational use in some states. One area where cannabis use has also been studied is in exercise recovery. While some research suggests that cannabis use may have positive effects on exercise recovery, there are also some drawbacks that should be considered. In this blog, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of cannabis use and exercise recovery.
Benefits of Cannabis Use for Exercise Recovery:
Pain Relief - One of the most commonly reported benefits of cannabis use is pain relief. Cannabis contains the compounds THC and CBD that may help reduce inflammation and pain. For individuals who experience pain after exercising, cannabis may help alleviate those symptoms and aid in recovery. According to the National Institute of Health, THC has twenty times the anti-inflammatory potency of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone! CBD also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation without the harmful side effects of chronic ibuprofen or acetaminophen use.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress - Some individuals may experience chronic anxiety or stress, which can hinder exercise recovery and impact diet adherence. Cannabis may help reduce anxiety and stress levels, allowing the body to relax and recover more effectively. According to another study from NIH, acute and chronic stress is associated with increased inflammatory activity. So reducing your overall stress is another possible way that you could reduce inflammation issues.
Increased Appetite - Consuming cannabis can increase appetite, which may be beneficial for individuals who struggle to eat enough after a workout. Proper nutrition is essential for exercise recovery, and cannabis may help individuals consume the necessary nutrients. Just make sure when you get “the munchies” you’re still sticking to your meal plan…and I don’t think an entire bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos washed down with a Mountain Dew Code Red is what your personal trainer recommends.
Sleep Aid - Sleep is essential for exercise recovery, and cannabis may help individuals achieve deeper, more restful sleep. This can aid in muscle recovery, improved body composition, increased performance, and overall wellness. Getting enough deep sleep is often the missing piece in your fitness routine and it’s likely holding you back from achieving your goals. Finding a cannabis product designed for sleep aid and only taking it just before bed is a good option for people looking to improve their sleep without feeling “the high” from taking other products earlier in the day.
Drawbacks of Cannabis Use for Exercise Recovery:
Impaired Coordination and Reaction Time - THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, can impair coordination and reaction time. This may increase the risk of injury during exercise, which could be detrimental to recovery. Some strains of marijuana are also more relaxing than others, giving you the exact opposite of caffeine or other stimulants used in pre-workout supplements. “Chilling out” is the last thing you want to do prior to a tough workout. So cannabis is not an ideal supplement to use before a workout. Save it for after training or closer to bedtime.
Respiratory Issues - Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory issues, which can negatively impact exercise performance and recovery. Our lungs like to breathe air, not smoke, regardless of what kind of smoke it is. It is recommended that individuals use alternative consumption methods, such as edibles or vaporizers, to minimize these risks. Just be careful since consuming cannabis in different ways dramatically changes how your body responds to the dose.
Dosage and Frequency - The effects of cannabis use on exercise recovery can vary depending on dosage and frequency. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage and consumption method for each individual. Experts recommend starting “low and slow” by using a very small amount and waiting before taking any more. While we know a LOT about exercise, nutrition, and overall fitness, we are not experts on cannabis. We recommend you find a qualified professional to help you find the dose, frequency, and ingestion method that’s best for you and what you’re looking to get out of cannabis use.
Legal Concerns - Cannabis use is illegal in some countries and states, which can lead to legal concerns for individuals who use it for exercise recovery purposes. It is important to understand the legal implications of cannabis use in your area. Even if medical or recreational cannabis is legal in your region, you still need to check with your employer for their specific substance policies.
So while cannabis use may have some potential benefits for exercise recovery, there are also drawbacks that should be considered. The effects of cannabis on exercise recovery can vary widely depending on individual factors such as dosage, frequency, and consumption method. It is recommended that individuals consult with a healthcare professional to determine if cannabis use is appropriate for their exercise recovery goals. Ultimately, the decision to use cannabis for exercise recovery should be made after careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks. Remember too that no supplement or substance is a substitute for a well-rounded strength program combined with a proper diet and good sleep!