As an athlete, you are always looking for ways to boost your performance. The hottest discussion in the athlete world right now is the effect of cannabis on performance. Some say pot boosts their performance, especially in the gym. But others are adamant that, like other drugs, weed will affect the performance of an athlete. So, which group is correct? Read on to find out.
How does weed affect the brain
To understand the effect of weed on performance, we have to go back to the basics and ask ourselves what weed does to the brain.
Cannabis sativa has over 700 chemical compounds. When you ingest it, via smoke, vape or consume edibles, these chemicals (collectively known as cannabinoids) combine with receptors in the brain and body. After taking this combination, the user feels relaxed as the cannabinoids control pain, emotions, appetite, and memory.
The main compound in weed is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This psychoactive chemical brings about the feeling of euphoria and drowsiness. In other words, it causes the “high”.
Potential benefits of weed to athletes
So far it does not sound like weed helps an athlete, does it? Have you ever heard about the ‘runner’s high’? The body naturally produces similar compounds as we exercise. Therefore, ingesting weed before exercising is just a way of boosting the natural process that produces endocannabinoids. ‘The runner’s high’ actually minimizes distractions helping an athlete exercise for longer because they are enjoying it.
The anti-inflammatory properties of weed are also beneficial to athletes. Inflammation is one of the reasons you are not able to exercise for as long as you would like. Therefore, smoking weed before exercise helps you work out for longer. What athlete would not like that?
During exercise, muscles wear out the effect being muscle pains after exercise. Weed acts as a muscle relaxer and painkiller. So, when you consume it after a period of exercise, you will feel relaxed and it will do away with the pain.
The cons of cannabis that affect performance of an athlete
Still, there are many effects of weed that will limit the performance of an athlete. Some of the chemicals combine with brain receptors and affect brain functions such as eye-hand coordination and reaction time. These two functions are what makes the difference between the winner and losers in a competition.
Weed cause impulsiveness which results in risk-taking behavior in the user. The user is more susceptible to taking dangerous risks that may cause harm. For instance, during surfing, they may underestimate a tide and end up having life-threatening injuries.
The most common method of taking weed is smoking. The common notion is that cannabis smoke is not as dangerous as tobacco smoke. While this is true, it still has carcinogens that are regarded as chronic bronchitis triggers. If an athlete has to take weed, they should take it in form of edibles or via vaporizers.
Drug tests in athletic competitions
Before major competitions, athletes are tested for drugs and performance enhancers. THC is one of the compounds that they look for in these tests. High levels of THC in your bloodstream leads to disqualification.
Studies on the benefits of marijuana in the performance of athletes are still minimal. Sports regulations still discourage it. But it is still ignorant to discredit its potential in athletic performance enhancement.