What is Lactic Acid

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Articles, Thought of the Day

Let me guess, you already know?…It’s what makes your muscles sore after a workout right? Well, this is what we used to think.  It was found that blood levels of lactic acid were elevated during high intensity exercise.  So, it was assumed that lactic acid made our muscles sore.  This was found to be incorrect.  lactic acid is cleared from muscle tissue within one hour after exercise and does no damage to the muscle tissue.  Muscle soreness comes from microscopic tears in muscle tissue which occurs during exercise.

Ok…. Lactic acid is what gives me the burn in my muscle during exercise…right?  Well, this thought makes sense.   Lactic acid has the word acid in it and acid burns….I know there is a lot of it in my muscles during exercise…The harder I exercise, the more my muscles burn….. and the harder I exercise the more lactic acid I have in my muscles….This is all logical, however, this is inaccurate even though this was common belief until recently.  It is true that the higher intensity at which you work does cause increased lactic acid in your muscle tissue and more of a burning sensation in the muscles; however what makes your muscles burn is most likely the buildup of hydrogen ions and a drop in pH.

Lactic acid makes me tired and makes me hit “the wall.”  Well not exactly…This is where it gets tricky.  You see two huge spikes in lactic acid in the muscle called the “lactic threshold” and the “onset of blood lactate accumulation” are correlated with muscle exhaustion and the cessation of muscular work.  What is commonly referred to as “hitting the wall.”  It makes sense to assume this is because of lactic acid and many scientists have for years.  However, this is just a correlation.  It is now widely believed that this muscle fatigued is caused by the drop in pH levels and the accumulation of hydrogen in the muscle tissue that is being worked.

So, what does lactic acid do?  Well it is actually does many good things.  First off, it is directly used for energy in slow twitch and cardiac muscles.  It is also used to help create energy from non-carbohydrate sources such as protein (which is rare) during extended exercise bouts.  The best news is, there is plenty available and you do not have to pay for it…all you have to do is exercise at a higher intensity 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s