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  • D.H. Reilly

Can Marijuana Improve Your Workouts?

is marijuana a performance enhancing drug?

When you think of reasons to get your Minnesota Marijuana Card, you probably don’t think about stepping up your athletic performance.

And no, cannabis isn’t a performance enhancing drug in the way the phrase is usually used. In fact, one review of 15 studies showed that marijuana doesn’t increase strength or speed, and some of the studies even found that it impaired athletic performance.

And yet all sorts of athletes, from amateurs to professionals, from average Joes trying to stay healthy to ultramarathoners pushing the limits of human potential, are finding that marijuana helps them up their games.

It’s a trend that’s especially noticeable at the professional level. As Dr. Suzanne Sisley, a physician and psychiatrist, told Men’s Journal, “I think all athletes—whether they’re NFL or NBA pros or just serious athletes wanting to better their fitness—are learning about the therapeutic potential of this plant. Athletes are teaching each other how to do this. It’s like a peer-mentoring process.”

While it may not enhance performance in the ways we’d usually think of, cannabis can help you maximize your physical fitness, whether you’re looking to compete or just looking to be healthy.

How Can Marijuana Help Maximize My Physical Fitness?

So why is Dr. Sisley seeing all of these professional athletes adding marijuana to their regimens if it won’t make them faster or stronger? Because there is more to a successful workout routine than just getting faster and stronger.

Marijuana and Exercise Recovery

For your workouts to be truly beneficial, it’s important to get adequate rest between them.

Workouts cause stress and inflammation that the immune system then repairs. According to Everyday Health, when your immune system is done repairing your damaged body tissues, they’re a little more fit than they were, resulting in less damage the next time you repeat that workout.

It’s this damage-recovery-damage cycle that improves physical fitness, and marijuana helps with the recovery.

Avery Collins, a professional ultramarathoner, told Men’s Journal that “After a 30- to 40-mile run, I’ll sit down, and my legs will keep throbbing and pounding; it’s like they think they’re still supposed to be going. That’s when the CBD compounds help tremendously. They calm down your legs and, because they’re anti-inflammatory, let them recover faster.”

The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that found that marijuana increased athletes’ pain thresholds, which decreased the recovery time they needed between workouts so that they could work out more intensely and often.

And soccer phenom Megan Rapinoe told Forbes that “CBD has become part of my all-natural recovery system that I use throughout the day to help with pain and inflammation. Instead of taking Advil or other pain management meds, I've almost exclusively substituted with Mendi CBD products.”

Rapinoe’s use of cannabis is similar to a trend that Men’s Journal noted, where a “new wave of sports-world acceptance puts cannabis forward as a ‘biohack.’ That is, a plant-based alternative to opioid pain-relief drugs such as codeine or OxyContin.”

Improving Sleep Quality with Cannabis

Sleeping well, and enough, is important to ensure recovery, and it’s another part of your exercise routine that can get a lift from medical marijuana.

In fact, sleeping poorly can be so bad for your exercise regimen that some fitness and health experts suggest you should skip your work out the day after a bad night’s sleep.

And CBD might be just what the doctor ordered (literally) if you’re struggling to sleep well. According to the Sleep Foundation, “CBD can help with a number of sleep disorders, including insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness disorder. Additional preliminary research suggests CBD can also help patients improve sleep and reduce anxiety.”

And speaking of anxiety...

Anxiety, Athletics, and Medical Marijuana

Sometimes the problem with your physical performance is all in your mind.

“It is well known that sport has the potential for high levels of stress and anxiety,” according to research published in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. “Equally, growing evidence also suggests that anxiety can play a role in sport injury prevention, occurrence, rehabilitation, and the return to sport process.”

So less anxiety means more gains, and medical marijuana can mean less anxiety.

Although Minnesota is not yet one of them, anxiety is recognized as a qualifying condition in many states, and there is a good reason for that.

According to a study appearing in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology, treating anxiety with marijuana led to “largely improved cognitive performance, reduced clinical symptoms and anxiety-related symptoms as well as a reduced use of conventional medications, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and other mood stabilizers and antidepressants.”

So the effectiveness of your physical fitness routine is impacted by all of these different aspects of your overall health and wellbeing. Anxiety, sleep, inflammation, and recovery are all interconnected, and medical marijuana can help them all work together for your workouts.

Is Medical Marijuana What You Need to Up Your Game?

Do you want to get more out of your workouts, or just find relief for your qualifying condition? Either way, medical marijuana could be right for you.

Why not begin the process of finding out if what is working for so many could also work for you? Reserve an appointment today to see one of our knowledgeable, compassionate doctors, and we’ll schedule your exam just as soon as we’re cleared to see patients.

You save $25 off the cost of your appointment, and we’ll even refund the appointment entirely if your doctor decides you don’t qualify for a Minnesota Marijuana Card. You have nothing to lose, and potentially a whole new level of physical fitness to gain!

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