The Lactic Acid Pain Connection

Jan 8th, 2010 | By Body Pain Admin | Category: Body Pain

Lactic acid is one of those things everyone has heard about. Yet ask someone what it is, exactly, or how to get rid of it, and the answers are few. For many, it is merely something to blame their sore muscles on the morning after a hard workout.

It seems, however, that current research tells a different story. Lactic acid is not what makes muscles sore; it is what keeps them going!

When you exercise or engage in vigorous physical activities your muscles will invariably tire out. The amount of time or stress the muscles can manage before tiring is based on their level of tone, your level of fitness. Scientists have now proven that lactic acid is produced by the body to keep its muscles firing after the time they would normally tire out. It is like a protection that delays the onset of fatigue so that muscles under constant load (from lifting) or stress (from running) can keep going.

When your muscles work hard to carry out a task, like exercise, the body produces a chemical called lactate. After a certain duration of exercise your body hits a wall and can no longer remove the excess levels of lactate in the muscles. As a result, another chemical reaction occurs and lactic acid is produced.

Lactic acid is not the negative side effect of the workout. It is not residual biological waste or toxin in muscle tissue that needs to be removed, as once believed. It is released in response to the repeated movements carried out over time like walking, playing sports, gardening, and so on.

The muscles hurt the next day because lactic acid allowed them to keep firing, to keep moving past their point of fatigue. It allows them to do more. Muscle soreness is the sign that your muscles need rest and repair from overdoing the activity.

While it has been advised to drink lots of water to “flush your system” of the lactic acid, this will not prevent it from being released into the tissues. When it is released, you are able to work harder and for longer duration, and it is this that causes the pain. So, the way to reduce the lactic acid response is to slow down.

What must happen to avoid or reduce the exercise pain derived from lactate overload and release of lactic acid is to build up muscles over time. Exercising more often at lower intensity to slowly accustom your muscles to the increasing stress placed on them while at the same time not causing a need for too much lactic acid release … and thus soreness or pain hours later.

Building up lung capacity, muscle strength and overall endurance over time is the way to go. Pain-free exercise is the healthy choice.

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