Lactate: friend or foe?
We’ve all heard it: “lactic acid makes your muscles burn and fatigue” or “make sure you cool down to flush out the lactic acid, otherwise you’ll be sore”. So is lactic acid actually that bad?
First off, the more correct term would be “lactate”. Lactic acid immediately turns into lactate once it is formed.
Numerous studies have actually shown that there is no direct association between lactate and muscle soreness.
According to Robergs et al (2004):
-there is no cause and effect relationship between fatigue and lactate
-the production of lactate consumes 2 protons, which means that it actually retards acidosis!
-lactate is not a useless end product. Other cells in your body can actually use lactate as fuel (see lactate shuttle hypothesis)
-so how did lactate end up taking all the blame? Well it turns out that theres a very strong temporal relationship between lactate formation and increase in blood acidity. BUT this is NOT causation!
We DO KNOW that a build up of acid causes fatigue. But DON’T blame lactate! Feel free to correct your buddy the next time you hear “…this lactic acid is killing me”