For Golfers Encountering the YIPS: Can Cannabis Help?
Learn what treatments are available that will help fix your game.
It’s every golfer’s nightmare. You’re standing on the green, putter in hand, about to sink a par-four, when all of a sudden, instead of the clean-pendulum swing you meant to deliver, a spasm emerges, and the ball arcs left, right — anywhere except where it needs to go, which is in the hole. It’s called the yips, and it’s sunk the careers of many pro golfers that can’t manage to control it.
Can cannabis help contain the self-consciousness that may exacerbate the spasms that erupt on the chips and putts when you need to control your body the most? There’s already plenty of products on the market that claim they can, and there’s even a CBD brand that’s called YIPS as well. They’re all aimed at the body and brain’s own endocannabinoid system, a series of neuronal receptors and neurotransmitters that control and modulate many import functions, from mood to appetite. In order to understand what cannabis can do for the yips, it’s important to know what the yips are, what cannabis can potentially do for mental underpinnings of the disease, and how you as an individual respond to cannabis.
THE YIPS: A BRIEF DEFINITION
The term “yips” was coined in the early part of the 20th century by pro golfer Tommy Armour, but it’s not exclusive to golf. Baseball players (who call it Steve Blass Disease, after the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who suffered from it), dart throwers, cricket players, musicians and surgeons can all come down with the disorder. They will never get the yips at any other time than when they have to execute precise movements. At that point, they will choke, usually through spasms, but muscles can also freeze up or tremor as well.
The underpinnings of the disease are unknown, but it’s considered to be a mixture of focal dystonia, which affects muscles that are relied upon constantly for a repeated task, and performance anxiety. And it often hits golfers as they age into the game.
Treatments for the condition are limited, and often involve changing up one’s game, such as switching up one’s lead hand, taking up mental skill training/mindfulness exercises or even botox to calm the tremors
CAN CANNABIS QUELL THE ANXIETY?
As you probably have heard by now, cannabis, whether it’s vaped, smoked or eaten, is often used recreationally to calm people down. And indeed, among a significant subset of users, cannabis has some marked anxiolytic effects. However, the opposite can also hold for some users as well, too, particularly if they’ve used too much. So what gives?
The best answer to this question is to evoke the complexity of the brain’s response to cannabis. Not unlike the yips themselves, factors such as age, environment and prior experience with cannabis can also play a role.
In prior experiments with animal models involving THC, the high-producing molecule in cannabis, relatively small doses of THC — up to 1 mg/kg, precisely — have lowered anxiety, whereas higher doses of up to 10 mg/kg can create anxiety. Treatments that have one effect at one end of the dosage scale and the opposite in another are referred to as biphasic, and THC certainly fits the bill. CBD also induced calm in mice during two tests used to measure anxiety in mice; a meta-analysis of eight scientific papers testing CBD in ranges of six to 400 mg found very little adverse side effects aside from fatigue and sedation.
However, Hytiva’s Chief Medical Officer Robert Seik has indicated the findings in this paper, which suggests that CB1 agonists — in other words, THC or synthetic cannabinoids which mimic it — may attenuate motoneuron activity and create loss of body control.
SO SHOULD I USE IT?
It should be noted that we’re at early days for determining critical data regarding dosing and usage. Because of the way cannabis and its myriad active agents work in the body, the overall combination of terpenes, cannabinoids and flavonoids may create their own effect that can affect anxiety and muscle control in the body.
There is a (relatively) old saying in the cannabis world — start low and go slow. In other words, one starts with the lowest dose possible, and works up gradually to determine how one’s body responds to the plant or product. Especially if you’re using other medication, it also important to speak with a doctor or physician in your area that works with cannabis to help guide you (The Society of Cannabis Clinicians is a great place to start). And best of luck on your game! Whatever you end up learning about yourself and your body will continue to inform people as cannabis medicine continues to grow and flourish.