Despite what you may have heard, cannabis is not a silver bullet for all that ails you, sister. It won’t cure cancer. It won’t liberate you from your every anxious musing. And it certainly won’t help you—or anyone that you know!—grow a bigger penis. But it’s good for a lot of other stuff, and supporting your inner fitness buff is one area where cannabis really shines.
What has so many people talking about cannabis is its versatility. It can get you high if you consume the psychoactive cannabis compound called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). But equally, it can do nothing of the sort, if you opt for the non-psychoactive cannabis compound known as CBD (cannabidiol). When consumed in the context of a more holistic approach to self-care—and with attention payed to the many modes of ingestion, which can affect very different results—cannabis can make a big difference in your overall sense of well-being. It can be incredibly effective as an anti-inflammatory, in promoting recovery and relaxation after a big push.
But that’s not news: Cannabis has been a healing plant for thousands of years. In fact, as recently as the late 19th century, cannabis was sold in pharmacies across the US and was being prescribed to treat everything from depression, to mental and physical exhaustion, to insomnia and neuralgia (read: pain). All that went to hell in a hand basket when a racist political agenda gained traction in the early to 20th century. Controlling the cannabis plant and its proponents became a way to control people of color and that marked the beginning of the War on Drugs.
Nowadays, both professional athletes and your regular run-of-the-mill fit folk look to cannabis to bolster the getting fit part and being fit part. For some, that looks like using cannabis topicals—that won’t get you high—after a tough workout. For others, it’s consuming low levels of THC—the psychoactive compound found in cannabis—as an edible or vape to reduce pain during the workout itself.
The important thing to know is that cannabis can really only do its work when you do yours: You have to put in the time and energy to take good care of yourself across the board. And not that it bears repeating, but maintaining our fitness and strength is an integral part of that overall effort.
When you want to get ahead of the pain
There’s nothing wrong with taking a little prophylactic measure to keep inflammation and pain to a minimum. The Apothecanna Extra Strength Spray ($38) is super easy to apply, even on those hard to reach spots like your back or shoulders. Made with CBD, arnica, peppermint, juniper, and clove, this is an all-natural alternative to make you feel loose and limber stepping into a workout.
When you’re shake-obsessed but need inspiration
Mondo Powder with THC (available only in state-licensed dispensaries) is a standout for a couple of reasons. First, it embraces this idea that consuming cannabis doesn’t necessarily need to be about getting super high. With 5mg of THC and 3mg of CBD, the result isn’t especially pronounced. It’s got a warm, gentle calming effect instead. Which after a hard workout, is often exactly what the doctor ordered. The delivery method—a powder—is the other big differentiator. The fitness world is all about shakes and smoothies, so a powder like this fits pretty seamlessly into your regular routine. Mondo also makes a CBD-only powder, which ships nationwide. So, if you don’t like the idea of any psychoactivity (however small), this is a good option.
When shifting gears is too much
Vaping before fitness may seem the least intuitive, but I’ve personally enjoyed my time after hitting the BEBOE Calming CBD Blend Vaporizer ($75) before a yoga or pilates class. Just like it can be hard to switch gears after a long and stressful workday, sometimes dropping into the proper headspace before a more meditative practice is a challenge. A vaporizer like this one is fast-acting and when CBD is vaped, rather than taken sublingually, it increases the CBD’s bioavailability—which is fancy speak to say your body will have an easier time absorbing it.
When you’re trying to feel the benefits over time
Many skeptics use the CBD latte craze to make the case against CBD. And they’re right. CBD taken in very low doses once in a while won’t do much, if anything. They also point to a general lack of scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of the non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. And they’re right about that too. There isn’t a lot of science yet, but it would be wrong to say there isn’t any. What we have found is that taking CBD regularly is more effective in contributing to an overall sense of calm than one-off CBD doses. A tincture is a great place to start and Mineral Recovery ($190) is a fave around here.
When a post-workout massage isn’t an option (always)
After a tough workout, sometimes all you want is a hot bath and someone to rub you from your top to your toes. But for most of us, that may only happen on very special occasions. For the other 364 days of the year, Wildflower’s CBD+ Healing Balm ($75) comes in at a close second. It is stickier than the spray, so I like it post-workout so I’m not slipping and sliding. But after the fact, nothing beats the cooling properties of this balm.