Have you heard of a runner's high? It’s probably safe to say that every one of us has either experienced one firsthand or skeptically rolled our eyes at someone who has. Apparently, after you run enough, you reach a point of euphoria where running becomes awesome and fun. I’ve never gotten there myself, but, boy, do I have some serious FOMO about it. Rather than literally chasing that high that may never come, I opt to get high and then run.
Chances are by this point, I’ve already lost some of you. Frankly, there was a point in my life when I’d never considered using cannabis before exercise. What a waste of a good thing, I’d say! And while it might not be for everybody, there are a few of us out there who have tried to exercise while medicated and found that it helped. Does it really, though? There are some experts who have gathered information about the subject (though it’s important to note that no official scientific studies have been run to test the effects of cannabis on exercise). If you’ve ever been curious about mixing the two, here are a few tips contrived of a healthy mix of my own personal experience and anecdotal evidence from said experts.
Note: I’m a Medical Cannabis patient, not a doctor or a scientist. The following should not be considered medical advice of any kind.
It’s important to understand your personal relationship with cannabis before attempting vigorous physical activity.* You’re not going to want to get your Medical Cannabis Card, get blitzed, and head to the gym. Patients of UTTHC are educated on the importance of finding your just-right dose and given a tailor-made treatment plan to follow to help them find optimal relief at the lowest possible dose (known as microdosing). You can download our Find Your Just-Right Dose guide and many other helpful Medical Cannabis guides here.
Once you’re comfortable with your body’s reaction to canna-treatment, take a moment to be mindful of how you feel. If you feel a little couchlocked, maybe take a bit less than your just-right dose prior to your workout. Remember, we’re going for medicated here, not stoned.
It’s no secret that Medical Cannabis can help treat chronic pain. The concept here is the same: when you’re exercising with cannabis in your system, your body can tolerate aches and pains much better. You may be able to run that extra mile, lunge a little deeper, or knock out a few more squats — and who knows? That extra boost could be just what you’ve needed all this time to see those gains you’ve been working so hard for. Check out this episode of Utah in the Weeds where we interview local athlete, Toby Larson, about how cannabis before exercise has helped him lose near 50 pounds.
Sometimes, a good workout is all about the experience you create for yourself. A good playlist and a little energy can carry us through most workouts, but when you need that extra oomph, cannabis can get you there. Microdosing before repetitive or tedious gym sessions — like weightlifting, running on the treadmill, or yoga — can get you in the zone faster and help you to stay focused on your form.
After a heavy workout (or a string of them), when your joints ache and your muscles feel like they’re on fire, you’re not going to want to throw on your gym shorts and head out to hit it hard again. Cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBG, etc. can help to decrease that inflammation so your muscles can recover. Then you can get back to it sooner, ultimately helping you to build more muscle and get stronger.
Shout out to cannabidiol. Better known as CBD — the infamous ultra-therapeutic, non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. CBD can help to treat many things, but we’ve gotta give it up for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. These two properties in particular make CBD a gift when it comes to recovery. And while Medical Cannabis is legal in Utah, it’s not as quite easily accessible as CBD is. Not to mention the fact that not all of us can just go off and use cannabis. Maybe you’re regularly drug-tested or don’t like feeling “high". I’m here to tell you that CBD oil will get the job done and you’ll likely notice a positive difference.
That being said, medicating with whole plant (THC and other cannabinoids included) is far more likely to provide more well-rounded relief, as many cannabinoids play off of one another in your endocannabinoid system. For example, while you’ll get one anti-inflammatory effect from CBD, you’ll get a totally different one from THC or CBG. Not to mention the effect you'll feel when they all work together (called the Entourage Effect). There are roughly 100 other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. You never know which might be your saving grace until you try. It’s worth a shot, no?
This goes without saying. I mean, obviously, right? But for those of us who don’t like exercising and have a hard time staying active because of it, microdosing a little cannabis beforehand could spice it up for you. (This same advice goes for other mundane tasks, like laundry and shoveling snow.)
So, if like so many of us, your 2022 resolution is to exercise more, be healthier, or feel better, I implore you to see what cannabis can do for you. You could go from couch potato to gym rat and flex on all of your loved ones by this time next year. If you still need your Medical Card in Utah, reserve an appointment in any of UTTHC’s six clinics across the state. What are you waiting for? Make 2022 the year you put your health first.
Now, considering the above — and because it’s fresh on everyone’s minds after the Sha’Carri Richardson scandal last July — do you think cannabis could be a performance-enhancing drug? And if so, should it be put in the same category as steroids for Olympic athletes? Here’s what our founder, Tim Pickett, had to say on the matter on KSL NewsRadio. What do you think? Comment below — we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Warning: If you suffer from heart disease of any kind, proceed with caution. Cannabis use can decrease blood pressure, making the heart beat faster. This could be cause for concern for those with heart issues, especially when physically active. Talk to your doctor before mixing cannabis and exercise.
* Some physical activities may not be well-suited for cannabis use. Use your best judgment.