Lac+ic Acid

As you are aware, our bodies require tremendous amounts of energy to fuel our muscles to move and contract properly. Many people believe that Lactic Acid is a horrible thing that causes our muscles to be sore, inflamed, and fatigued after a workout or a run, but that is not the case.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the stiffness and pain felt in the muscles 24 to 72 hours after exercise. Whenever we exercise we are tearing our muscle fibers and “damaging” them in a sense in order to make them grow stronger, but our body is extremely intelligent. In fact, we have muscle memory and these micro tears that we put into our muscles allow us to come back for our next training session or exercise routine better, stronger, and faster.

For the longest time, many people believed that muscles produced a waste product called lactic acid during and after exercise and this was the cause of the delayed onset muscle soreness. In fact, they do not even produce lactic acid but rather a very close chemical called lactate. The theory was that too much lactic acid caused muscle fatigue because it made the muscles “too acidic” to contract effectively. The muscles certainly become more acidic during exercise but not because of lactic acid or lactate but for other reasons. Research and studies still do not know the cause but te soreness is mainly caused by the intense mechanical damage and inflammation caused to the muscles. The burning feeling that comes to your muscles during exercise is certainly from lactic acid build up but research shows that the swelling and soreness that come days after intense muscle contractions are due to the inflammatory repair response.

Think of your muscles like a car battery, if you jolt enough power from it it will eventually drain and when the body rests it will recharge to full capacity and be in working order again. Some of the best athletes or hardest working people in the gym actually produce the least amount of lactate during exercise. But how this could be? Studies have shown that these athletes and gym goers carry less of this lactate waste product in their muscles because their body has become accustomed to the endurance and intense exercise.

So how do we recover faster from exercise, DOMs, and overall body fatigue?

  1. Rest (your muscles grow when you rest not when you exercise)
  2. Hydration (water helps blood flow to the muscles giving the more nutrients)
  3. Nutrition (electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, proteins, good fats, clean carbs)
  4. Movement (walking, light jogging, swimming allows for the muscles to loosen up)
  5. Hot and cold therapy (heat helps muscles relax and cold helps minimize inflammation and pain)

“Muscle soreness is the new hangover.”

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