Research: Cannabis Use Among Athletes and Exercise Participants

Liquid Life Cannabis Use Among Athletes

Introductions and image by @SuperFunker.

1) Ware et al (2018) explored the state of Cannabis use among athletes and elucidated possible benefits. Although there is no evidence that Cannabis enhances physical performance, athletes who engage in such sports as skeleton, bobsledding, snowboarding, skiing and ice hockey, feel that they experience a Cannabis-induced benefit. In these examples, it’s speculated that Cannabis may facilitate relaxation, improve concentration and reduce anxiety which may then enhance athletic execution. Outside of physical sporting activities, Cannabis may provide tangible benefits for athletes and athletic conditions. Specifically, Cannabis may improve pain tolerance, reduce inflammation, mitigate spasticity, enhance sleep/recovery, prevent/manage traumatic brain injury and reduce the reliance on opioid pain medication. These therapeutic benefits underscore a safety/health-based rationale to allow Cannabis use among athletes.

Title: "Cannabis and the Health and Performance of the Elite Athlete."

"Cannabis (marijuana) is undergoing extensive regulatory review in many global jurisdictions for medical and nonmedical access. Cannabis has potential impact on the health of athletes as well as on performance..."

Data Sources
"A nonsystematic literature review was conducted using Medline and PubMed for articles related to cannabis/marijuana use and sports/athletic performance; abstracts were reviewed by lead author..."

Main Results
"Cannabis may be primarily inhaled or ingested orally for a range of medical and nonmedical reasons; evidence for efficacy is limited but promising for chronic pain management..."

"Medical and nonmedical cannabis use among athletes reflects changing societal and cultural norms and experiences. Although cannabis use is more prevalent in some athletes..."

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2) YorkWilliams et al (2019) conducted a series of clinical surveys to assess Cannabis use and opinions among adult exercise participants in states that allow recreational Cannabis consumption. A combined 605 respondents provided answers to a Cannabis-exercise questionnaire. 494 (81.7%) affirmed that they use Cannabis before and/or after exercise. The researchers found that participants who combined Cannabis with exercise – before and/or after engagement – were more likely to be male and younger. Dominant reasons for Cannabis use in relation with exercise was an increase in enjoyment, enhanced recovery and improved motivation.

Title: "The New Runner's High? Examining Relationships Between Cannabis Use and Exercise Behavior in States With Legalized Cannabis."

"Scientific literature examining cannabis use in the context of health behaviors, such as exercise engagement, is extremely sparse and has yielded inconsistent findings. This issue is becoming increasingly relevant as cannabis legalization continues..."

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3) Zeiger et al (2019) conducted a cross-sectional quantitative survey among adult self-declared athletes in an effort to understand Cannabis use patterns and therapeutic benefits.

Of 1,161 participants:

  • 399 (34.4%) were triathletes.
  • 299 (25.8%) were runners.
  • 258 (22.2%) were cyclists.
  • 895 (77.1%) had been athletes for 11 years or greater.
  • 722 (62.2%) were male.
  • 439 (37.8%) were female.
  • 787 (67.8%) were 40 years of age or older.
  • 302 (26.0%) were current Cannabis users, however due to a statistical issue, 301 (25.9%) were considered for analysis.
  • 483 (41.6%) had tried Cannabis in the past, but were not current users.
  • 376 (32.4%) had never used Cannabis.

Although researchers detailed a variety of Cannabis usage patterns and identified different Cannabis types, they found that the combination of THC and CBD provided greater pain and anxiety relief than CBD alone.

Title: "Cannabis use in active athletes: Behaviors related to subjective effects."

"Cannabis use has not been well characterized in athletes. Studies primarily examine problematic use or its categorization by anti-doping bodies as a banned substance. Patterns of use, reasons for use, and responses to cannabis consumption..."

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