The link between cannabis and athletes goes a long way back. But, for the most part, it’s always been viewed as a “negative” association. Remember when the world had a meltdown over pictures of Olympics superstar Michael Phelps smoking out of a bong? Then there’s the story of Ross Reblagliati, who won an Olympic gold for snowboarding in 1998, only to have it taken away when it was shown that he had small amounts of THC in his system. Or NFL star Ricky Williams, who repeatedly got in trouble for pot, and eventually just gave up on football all together and became a full-time cannabis advocate. The truth is that athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all types have been using cannabis for a variety of reasons, for a long time. There's estimates out there that as many as 80% of NFL players use cannabis at least occasionally. Most just don’t get caught. The rules in most professional sports leagues remain ridiculous, at best. If you get caught with weed in the NFL, you face a multi-game suspension, potentially costing millions. But if a player gets caught drunk driving… Maybe they’ll get a game off the first time around.
High-profile, professional sports are one thing, but the rest of the athletic world are moving more quickly to embrace cannabis. Both the UFC and BIG3 Basketball League now are allowing their athletes to use CBD for recovery. According to Big 3 founder Ice Cube, “we look at the use of CBD as compassion for our players. These guys put their bodies on the line to entertain us with their talent.” On the other side of the sports spectrum, it’s becoming more and more common for Crossfitters, runners, mixed martial artists, and endurance athletes to be regular cannabis users. (Favorite cannabis strains are a common hot topic at Crossfit gyms!)
The growing acceptance of cannabis in the fitness world is for good reason, too. There’s the pain-relieving effects of cannabis, helpful for bang-ups and bruises. You’ve got the anti-inflammatory properties, which are important to endurance athletes concerned with joint health. Now you can even find topical preparations of cannabis, meant to be used on sore muscles to aid in recovery.
Strains for Fitness
When it comes to sports and cannabis, not all strains are created equal. To get the full range of benefits, we recommend strains that have at least some level of CBD in them. (To review: CBD is a compound in cannabis that’s responsible for many of the health benefits desired by athletes. THC is the compound in cannabis that causes the “high.”) Here’s a few strains that have been popular in the fitness world over the past year.
- Harlequin – This sativa-dominant strain (note: sativas tend to cause energetic and uplifting effects, while indicas are more relaxing, better for after a workout) is renowned for its high CBD content. It almost always has a CBD:THC ratio of 5:2, making it a consistent and reliable strain. It’s common, and will be easy to find online or in dispensaries in your area.
- Jack Herer – While not containing large amounts of CBD, Jack Herer has been popular with athletes for years for its ability to treat aches and pain. This would be a strain more commonly used for recovery than prior to exercise or competition. It has been around since the 1990s, so has withstood the test of time.
- Cannatonic – This unique strain is perfect for athletes that are interested in using cannabis for the health benefits, but not interested in getting high. It has very high CBD content but very low THC content. The current craze around CBD has made this a very popular, and very sought after strain for athletes.
To Smoke or to Vape?
The method you consume cannabis is all about personal preference. That being said, most athletes (and folks that just like living an active lifestyle) are turning to vaping for a few important reasons.
- More accurate dosing. When using vape pens with cartridges, it’s much easier to figure out the appropriate dose. Once you do, vape pens also make it easier to be consistent from session to session or day to day.
- Staying stealth. Carrying a vape pen around is easier than a pipe, weed, lighter, etc. Many models of CBD vape pens are small enough to easily fit in a purse or pocket. (For example, the Session Slim and Session Pro-V are perfect choices if this is a concern for you.)
- Odor. If the smell of weed isn’t your thing, then vaping is the perfect solution. With the right CBD oil or distillate, you can be completely odor-free.
- No smoke! Many athletes are just not into smoking. Period. Vaping provides an alternative.
It’s true that in the fitness world, trends, gimmicks, and supplements come and go. There’s always some fancy new discovery that’s supposed to make you stronger, faster, and healthier. That’s not the case with cannabis, however. It’s here to stay! If you live an active lifestyle and have never tried cannabis, give it a try and decide for yourself if it’s a good fit for your lifestyle.