While using cannabis as pre-workout supplement may sound crazy, it is not uncommon for elite athletes to use cannabis as a recovery tool as well. After an intense workout or training session, you may be tired, sore, or even nauseous. Many people in this situation may toss back two or three Ibuprofen, crack a beer to take the edge off and call it good. However, what you may not realize is that NSAID drugs like Ibuprofen and Aleve are extremely dangerous, especially when used with regularity. If deaths from the toxic effects of NSAID drugs were tabulated separately, these drug toxicities would constitute the 15th most common cause of death in the United States. Therefore, we suggest athletes stick to a more powerful, less toxic, and naturally occurring substance like cannabis. In this guide, we will help you understand the benefits of cannabis as a recovery tool and how to garner these benefits in your own post-workout regimen.
Nutrition helps post-workout recovery
In order to produce our own proteins, we must consume proteins. Protein supplementation, both pre- and post-workout, generally improves recovery, muscle growth and strength2. However, specific amounts and types of protein can promote greater improvements in physical fitness. For example, drinking milk after a workout can promote increases in muscle size and strength while decreasing body fat. To be more specific, the amino acid known as leucine, particularly a dose of 3-4 grams, can promote maximum muscle gain. However, fast-acting carbohydrates such as glucose are needed because the release of insulin that follows carbohydrate intake promotes tissue growth.
Carbohydrate intake after intense exercise3 is also essential in order to replenish stores of energy that may have been exhausted, preferably within one hour after finishing. Of course, rehydration should never be overlooked after intense exercise. This includes both water and electrolytes such as sodium, which reduce urine losses and are needed for cellular functions, but are lost in significant amounts through sweat. Approximately 25-50% more water than what has been lost through sweat is required for proper rehydration, and this should be taken within 4-6
hours after exercise.
Post-Workout Recovery Tips using Hemp & Cannabidiol
But where can hemp and cannabinoids play a role in post-exercise recovery? Some cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD), have been shown to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and painkilling (analgesic) effects. This is relevant because strenuous exercise increases oxidative stress4 and therefore inflammation, while moderate antioxidant supplementation may reduce the damage. In pre-clinical research, CBD was found to be a stronger antioxidant than vitamin C or E5, able to protect cells against damage caused by reactive oxygen molecules. However, isolated CBD has been found to only exert anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects in a limited dose range6.
Besides the cannabinoids, terpenoids8 present in hemp extracts also possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic abilities. Additionally, the terpenoid myrcene is recognised as a sleep aid and may be a muscle relaxant, which could help athletes rest after intensive exercise. Alpha-pinene has been found to help dilate (widen) airways, which may increase oxygen supply and therefore aid clearance of lactic acid and tissue repair. However, while whole hemp extracts look like a promising aid to post-exercise recovery, they should be used alongside standard recommendations of rest, rehydration and nutrition.
- Tortora, GJ & Derrickson, B, 2012, Principles of Anatomy & Physiology, 13th edn, Wiley