Lactic Acid

You will be aware of lactic acid when you are working out and start to feel pain in your muscles. Here we examine how this works and why lactic acid is important.

What is Lactic Acid?

When you exercise exhaustively, lactic acid builds up within your muscles and pours out into the bloodstream. It refers to the lack of available oxygen which is necessary for exercising and this can cause the pain associated with exercising which can sometimes be rather intense.

Lactic acid is involved with the way in which your muscles work and how they use energy. As muscles actively contract they obtain Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) from the glucose which is located within the blood. They also retrieve this substance through the breakdown of glycogen which is stored in muscles.

When muscles work hard for prolonged periods of time, the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the muscles begins to be put under strain. During these times, lactic acid is produced as a result of glucose being broken down. As more is produced within the muscles, leakages into the blood occur and it is circulated throughout the body. The build up of lactic acid causes the functionality of body mechanics to decline and this can mean that performance and the ability to continue to push your body harder also become diminished.

Muscle fatigue and overall tiring of the body are the main symptoms of such conditions. At the extreme, this condition is known as the anaerobic threshold or the lactic threshold. Removing this substance from the muscles takes around an hour usually. Warming down efficiently can mean that the removal is accelerated and performed much more effectively. This warm down period ensures that the muscles receive a continuous and fast supply of essential oxygen to the muscles.

Why is Lactic Acid Important?

Despite common belief, this substance is neither responsible for the pain associated with hard exercise nor is it the cause of the aching experienced sometimes following periods of extensive exercise. It actually helps to delay the lowering blood glucose concentrations and this is known as hypoglycaemia. This condition actually causes people to feel the fatigue, aching and lowered performances related to exercising vigorously. By products of exercising include exothermic reactions which cause sweating to occur in order to reduce the heat gained and the conversion of oxygen into carbon dioxide. The body fails to cope with the number of by products produced and cannot effectively remove them from the muscles.

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