October 24, 2017

Athletes Use Cannabis Too 

There has been controversy surrounding this topic for years, remember Michael Phelps? Do athletes use cannabis? Yes. Is the use of cannabis harmful to athletic activity? That depends. It depends onwhy you are using cannabis,how you are using it, andwhen.I have seen people who were athletes sink into a "smoke all day do nothing" sort of life, but I've also seen and know athletes who use cannabis to help benefit their activities or help with the recovery after a long game or day at the gym. This post is not to discuss if you were to take a bong rip, can you then go and run a mile in the same time you would if you didn't smoke? While I am not against using Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) heavy cannabis prior to activity, this post aims more at the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) and why athletes have been experimenting with it. 

So, what do we know about CBD? CBD has been shown to have many beneficial properties including but not limited to anti-anxiety, antiepileptic, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-tumor. For the purpose of this blog, I will be focusing on the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of CBD. I have seen many articles come out recently with athletes in support of cannabis use and felt I had to dive further into this topic to learn more. I had the pleasure of speaking with Kelly, a 59 year old athlete from the San Francisco Bay Area.

No, Kelly is not a professional athlete, but he does participate in more physical activity than the average human - he is active for at least 3 hours a day 6 days a week. Kelly's sports of choice are tennis and cycling. Kelly cycles a minimum for 60 miles a week and is on the tennis court 3-4 times a week. He's a competitive tennis player in a 40y/o+ league and is ranked by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) as being in the top 10 doubles teams in Northern California for his age group. 

Mikayla:How long ago did you start using cannabis and why were you interested in trying it?

Kelly:I have been athletic my whole life and my body has been beat up with multiple injuries over the years. I've experienced broken bones, torn ligaments, knee surgery, etc. to the point that doctors told me I probably won't be playing tennis for much longer. I was to the point where I would take two ibuprofen before each tennis match and four ibuprofen before cycling for both inflammation and pain. I heard stories about CBD and wanted to give it a try. I first started using CBD about 8 months ago. 

Mikayla:What is your CBD routine like and do you think it is helping?

Kelly:I have a vaporizer and I only buy cartridges that have less than 10% THC in them. I usually take about three puffs from the vaporizer before exercise and 2-3 after exercise. I also use a topical on my joints  after more strenuous activity for a localized pain relief. Since I have been using cannabis I have not taken any ibuprofen and I feel better than ever; I actually think that I played the best tennis of my life the other week. Prior to cannabis I called myself the "king of ice" as I would ice my knees afterevery time I exercised. Now, I have only iced my knees twice for preventative purposes, but not because my joints feel inflamed. I absolutely think that the CBD has been helping. 

Mikayla:Did you have any reservations before trying cannabis? What were they?

Kelly:I did. I didn't know that you could isolate certain compounds in cannabis to get benefits but also not be high. I am not interested in getting high, not because I'm against it, it's just not for me. It was really interesting to learn that I could use cannabis without getting high. When I first tried vaping the CBD cartridge, I was worried about how I would feel, but I felt great. 

Mikayla:Was there anything interesting you learned from using CBD?

Kelly:Yes, that a lot of my peers are interested in trying it too. My friends and I are of similar age and grew up in a time where drug use and abuse was almost the norm. There has always been a stigma of cannabis that myself and others have bought into. I found that with proper education I became open to trying cannabis and when I talk to my friends, they are open to it too. There are a lot of us who are older athletes that could really benefit from trying CBD, and I think more and more of us are becoming open to it. 

Is Kelly onto something here? An untapped demographic of 50y/o+ athletes interested in using the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis? The more that there is an honest discussion around cannabis, the more you are going to have people come out of the woodwork and want to possibly try it. This debunks the old stereotype that all people that use cannabis are lazy. The more we talk and the more education we spread about the different components of the plant, the more types of people will be interested in giving it a try.