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Is lactic acid accumulation actually bad?

Posted March 05, 2015 06:47PM by Skye in the Cycling Forum

Skye
Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   5880115
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 5 years ago   Posts: 536

Interesting paper at the American Physiological Society:

Lactic acid accumulation is an advantage/disadvantage during muscle activity

The short version...

Quote

Finally, we note that a rise in blood lactate (the “lactate threshold”) can indeed be used as an indicator of exhaustion. However, although lactate may well increase when muscle performance declines, lactate is not the cause of the decline. Lactate rises in the blood when the muscle cells are using ATP faster than they resynthesize it aerobically in the mitochondria. But it is the other changes occurring in the muscle, not the lactic acid accumulation, which cause the fatigue. Acidity associated with lactic acid accumulation actually helps delay the onset of muscle fatigue that would otherwise ensue from the other effects of vigorous activity.

Lactic acid doesn't cause a decline in performance, it's just a physiological marker of work being done during anaerobic metabolism.

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Skye
Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   5880115
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 5 years ago   Posts: 536

Another article on the subject at VeloNews:

Lactic acid myths, debunked

Quote

Why then do we still talk about lactic acid in our bodies? Because of “simple historical inertia,” said Hickey. “It has stuck in the minds of lay audiences, coaches, athletes, etc. But it is based on a misunderstanding about the chemistry.

But if we don’t have lactic acid, then what do we have? What causes the burn? Our muscles do produce acid, but that acid is simply positively charged hydrogen, not lactic acid as we once believed. Scientists were long fooled because hydrogen and lactate exit the cell together — in fact one can’t leave without the other. So when we measure lactate levels, it correlates with hydrogen ions. We thought we were measuring lactic acid, but it is merely a coincidence that when we measure a rise in lactate it happens to match with a rise in painful acid levels.

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