High Athletics: Cannabis for Mindfulness, Pain Relief, and Recovery


All Information Displayed In This Post Is For Educational Purposes Only, And Is Not To Be Construed As Medical Advice Or Treatment For Any Specific Person Or Condition. Cannabis Has Not Been Analyzed Or Approved By The FDA. Individual Results May Vary.


As early as twenty five years ago, a cannabis infused gym, yoga studio, or fitness center seemed closer to fantasy than reality. Cannabis simply wasn’t accepted.

Today, hard work by advocates, activists, and legislators alike have normalized the plant. California’s Prop 215, the first bill legalizing state medical use, passed in November of 1996, almost 22 years ago. This July, recreational cannabis sales will begin alongside Massachusetts medical marijuana program, making the commonwealth the 9th American state, along with the district of Columbia, to legalize general adult use of cannabis.

As more locales, states, and even countries, like Canada legalize cannabis, olympic athletes, yoga nuts, and fitness enthusiasts alike have begun integrating cannabis into their regimens. Medical marijuana doctors and stoned athletes alike cite cannabis as a great alternative for pain relief and recovery.  Cannabis fitness experts, like former NFL running back Ricky Williams, have created careers and brands out of cannabis wellness.

But how exactly does cannabis help athletic performance and workouts?

Some users find cannabis helps them focus on their workout, increasing mindfulness


Medical and recreational cannabis affect each user in different ways, so what works for some may may not work for all. With that said, many prominent professional and collegiate athletes swear by cannabis’ mindful properties, allowing them to better focus on their workout, performance, or warmup.

For example, I spoke with Aurelia Sheehan, a decorated former Division 3 collegiate swimmer. 

She emphasized that, “smoking [cannabis] made swimming less boring,” and that using cannabis helped her concentrate and be more mindful of her body.

She championed cannabis as a mindful aid pre workout, stating, “If I’m in that very Indica induced body high where I can feel my muscles stretching and I can feel my tendons responding slowly I’m much more likely to stretch the right way.”


Cannabis helped her be more mindful of her body in general. She found that, “because I would smoke I’d be more inclined to notice small changes in my body that I could report to a trainer or coach so I could more accurately describe the issue.”

Cannabis sativa strains are known for their head clearing, invigorating effects that can aid in concentration. Cannabis users like Sheehan could be simulating “the runner’s high” by smoking the plant. When you perform a rigorous workout or run, your body produces natural cannabinoids, like anandamide, in large amounts. These interact with your brain to produce the invigorating, “runner’s high.”

The runner’s high, “whether natural or marijuana induced—can minimize distraction and help exercise be not just a means to an end but an enjoyment,” according to Eckerd College Biology professor Gregory Gerdeman.

Cannabis has high efficacy as a pain reliever over more addictive substances like opioids


During her time as a swimmer, Sheehan watched plenty of her high school and college teammates suffer injuries. It became clear to her that it was irresponsible to give young people such hard substances to manage pain, stating, “giving [these kids] opioids to deal with injuries that have been recurring and that haven’t been responding to physical therapy just reduces symptoms.”

Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts deal with pain from chronic injuries and surgeries, and often doctors prescribe opioids to these athletes. These drugs more than not lead to addiction or abuse. Many of these athletes underwent surgery and were provided opioids following their recovery, only to become addicted.

Cannabis has proven efficacy for treating pain, so it’s no wonder so many who deal with athletic injuries could benefit from its pain relieving prowess.

Cannabis aids in recovery in many ways, including stimulating hydration


Cannabis provides its effects by interacting with the human body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS.

The ECS regulates processes that take place in your body, like mood, appetite, pain sensation, memory, and others. The ECS has receptors that cannabis chemicals called cannabinoids bind onto. When you inhale cannabis, these chemicals bind to your ECS and produce effects associated with pain relief, anti inflammation, sleep aid, and even help aid in recovery.

For example, cannabis use during your workout can help keep you hydrated. You have ECS receptors in certain places in your body, including your salivary glands. When cannabinoids bind here they inhibit these glands, causing a dry mouth sensation known as “cotton mouth.” This encourages you to replenish with water during your workout, which can aid in your overall rest and recovery.

Moreover, cannabis indica dominant strains are known for their body focused, sleep inducing abilities. These strains are recommended for post workout use. By using an indica dominant strain following a workout, you can help your body recover in full more quickly.  

While cannabis for workouts may not be for everybody, it’s important to note the possible benefits indulging may have for your routine and regimen. Do you have a favorite cannabis for work outs?

About the Author

Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter


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