3 January 2020

Lactic Acid: How to Reduce it

Remember the old saying 'feel the burn?' That expression is referring to the burning pain in your muscles during a hard workout. This sensation is caused by lactic acid build-up in your muscles, which happens during intense exercise. Read on to discover how to reduce lactic acid (E270) and what causes it in the first place.

What causes Lactic Acid Build-Up?

When you exercise, your body fuels your muscles with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and pyruvate, a substance that the body converts into extra ATP using oxygen. This is an aerobic process (requires oxygen).

When you exercise at a higher intensity, your muscles need more fuel. If there is not enough oxygen to convert the pyruvate into extra ATP, the body will convert it into lactic acid, which is also able to fuel the muscles. This process is anaerobic (does not require oxygen).

The lactic acid quickly splits into lactate and hydrogen ions. If we get a build-up of hydrogen from E270, it changes the body's PH level and increases acidity. This acidity is what causes the burning sensation in the muscle during intense exercise.

How to Reduce Lactic Acid

There are several ways we can reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the body.

  1. Hydrate. E270 is water-soluble, so drinking plenty of water before and during your workout will help to decrease that burning sensation in your muscles.
  2. Breathe. Maintaining a proper intake of oxygen by breathing consciously and deeply during your reps will help to reduce the lactic acid build-up.
  3. Stretch. Stretching the muscles helps any built-up lactic acid to leave the area. It also helps to reduce the burning sensation and cramping in the muscles.

Lactic Acid and DOMS

It is a common misconception that lactic acid is responsible for the soreness in your muscles in the days following your workout. This pain is called DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and it occurs due to trauma and damage to the tissue. Lactic acid leaves your blood within an hour or two of your workout. It returns to the liver where it is converted back to glucose and used to fuel your body.

Bottom Line

Lactic acid is not your enemy. The body produces it to provide your muscles with that much-needed boost of fuel when you are demanding a lot of them. It does cause a burning sensation and fatigue in the muscles, which can be alleviated by drinking water, deep breathing, and stretching. Lactic acid is not responsible for DOMS. The pain felt in the days following the workout is due to tissue damage.

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