Advil and post-sport bevvies replaced by bongs?

Athletes believe pot is a better pain choice


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Muay Thai fighter Gloria Tse vaporizing after a workout

With legalization just around the legislative corner, many athletes are looking forward to the day when they can indulge in some post-game tokes instead of the standard post-game beers.

Although marijuana has traditionally been associated with the “lazy stoner” image, a shift in attitudes toward the herb has come about in recent years — especially within the athletic community.

This shift in attitudes toward marijuana has inspired a new variety of locker room talk — one that welcomes a change from the typical whining and complaining about “how hard that class was!” 

Cannabis has become part of a more open dialogue between yoga-loving members at one of Toronto’s private clubs. While not in any way condoned by the club itself, some members are stepping up their yoga game by introducing a little ganja into their practice.

Using cannabis as a way to relax and enter a meditative state that is perfect for nurturing a deeper-resounding “om,” ganja-loving yogis are changing the locker room conversation in a big way.

And after all, those couple of glasses of wine following your power-yoga class aren’t doing your obliques any favours. In addition to being highly caloric, alcohol impedes recovery and makes for restless sleep. It’s no wonder an alternative may be welcome.

And the shift does have some basis in science, as well, according to the advances in research around the benefits of cannabis for managing inflammation, pain and improving recovery. With this new information, more and more athletes are looking to cannabis for both therapeutic and recreational purposes.

The promise of legalization of recreational pot has inspired one athlete to take her cannabis-inspired training regimen to the next level.

The co-founder of a cannibis-based edibles company, who asked to remain anonymous, is a longtime Muay Thai fighter and cannabis enthusiast. Inspired by her own experience and the experience of her Muay Thai community, she started her business to provide athletes with some healthy, organic, edible cannabis options.

She’s not alone. Another Muay Thai fighter, Gloria Tse, regularly relies on cannabis to help with her recovery after a fight. She primarily vapourizes strains rich in the cannabinoid CBD and relies on topical preparations to help soothe the pain and re-energize after a good fight.

“I think the potential for medical cannabis in sport is something to contemplate, and there are some interesting studies that support its use,” says Dr. Erin Boynton, surgeon, sports doctor and consultant to the Blue Jays. “But, until WADA [the World Anti-Doping Agency] removes it from the prohibited list, I could not condone its use as a sports physician working with high-performance athletes.”

Even the “runner’s high,” which has long been attributed to an increase in endorphins, may actually be a result of naturally occurring cannabinoids in our body, according to new research. It’s no surprise, then, that some athletes are relying on cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant to enhance their workout routine or help speed up the recovery process.

One professional hockey player sees huge potential for cannabis to help athletes manage symptoms related to concussions as well as improve recovery time.

Professional hockey player “Derek,” who asked that his identity be kept anonymous as a result of the status of cannabis according to WADA, says the stigma typically associated with marijuana is a little less pronounced among professional athletes than the general public might think.

“We’re always looking for a natural alternative, something that will help our daily grind and our daily recovery,” he says.

According to Derek, he and his hockey pals are dreaming of the day when they can have CBD dispensers in every locker room. As professional athletes in a high-impact sport, Derek and his teammates are always on the lookout for a natural advantage to add to their game.

“I personally think it’s way more detrimental on your body to have post-game beers. It would be more beneficial to us, overall, if we were consuming THC and CBD instead of alcohol,” he says.

Although some athletes have expressed a desire to incorporate cannabis into their training and recovery regimens, the issue of cannabis in professional sports is still incredibly controversial. 

Although professional athletes will likely have to wait a little while longer before they get to the magical dreamland of locker rooms full of CBD dispensers, the rest of us weekend warrior types can rejoice knowing that the recreational market is poised to have some fun and healthy post-game alternatives coming soon.

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Ljubica Kostovic is a cannabis advocate and the director of communications and research at a medical cannabis education service.

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