During an intense exercise, like sprinting or lifting heavy weights, your body requires more energy than normal to keep the muscles functioning. In this case, the body metabolizes glucose to deliver energy to the muscles.
The metabolized glucose, called pyruvate, is converted into lactate. When lactate accumulates at high levels in the blood and muscles, it creates acidity called lactic acidosis, which causes muscle fatigue and at high levels can interfere with muscle recovery. The accumulation of lactic acid can cause burning sensations that can disturb your athletic activities.
Know the symptoms of lactic acid buildup
While the most common symptom of lactic acid buildup is fatigue and a feeling of tiredness, there are a few harmful symptoms that can occur as a result of lactic acidosis. Consult your doctor if you experience two or more of the following symptoms:
- General weakness
- Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes
- Experiencing shallow or rapid breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle cramps
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Appetite problems
- Diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting
Experiencing normal fatigue shouldn’t be anything to worry about since it goes on its own. It just takes a good sleep or a few hours rest to get rid of fatigue. However, too much lactic acid can cause lactic acidosis which needs to be taken care of.
What’s the solution to lactic acid build up?
There is a solution to almost everything and lactic acid buildup too can be tackled easily. Here are some precautions you can take to reduce the buildup of lactic acid.
Step 1 – Drink more and more water!
Drink water or an electrolyte-replacement drink, which can play a vital role in preventing buildup of water-soluble lactic acid. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. By then, you’re likely already dehydrated. The American Council on Exercise recommends hydrating with 16 to 20 ounces of water two to three hours before a workout and then 7 to 10 additional ounces of water for every 20 to 30 minutes of exercise.
- Drink at least 12 glasses of water daily if you want to ensure a healthy lifestyle.
- Breathe deeply during your workout and try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Step 2 – Work out regularly!
The key to healthy and beneficial exercise is maintaining consistent activity. If you want to be physically fit, you need to exercise frequently. This will make your body adaptive to additional energy production and you will require less glucose to burn for energy, which eventually means less lactic acid buildup.
- According to WebMD, a physically fit person has a higher lactate threshold, a measure of blood vessel and heart fitness.
- Working out several times a week is a must but giving your muscles rest for a day or two does wonders.
Step 3 – Accelerate your workout gradually!
While it is true that keeping yourself motivated to exercise on a daily basis is the key to a healthy lifestyle but, forcing your muscles beyond their capacity can result negatively. Excessive workout every day without any routine or cycle can cause severe muscle soreness.
- Make sure to stay challenged, but don’t increase intensity too fast or all at once.
- Add weight, repetitions, minutes or miles gradually over a set period of time to maintain healthy levels of lactic acid.
Step 4 – Know when to back off!
As much as we stress on consistent workout and keeping yourself motivated enough to bring out desired results, you must know when to back off. As you start to feel your muscles burn or you struggle to breathe, slow down until you catch your breath, so your body can deliver more oxygen to the muscles. Moreover, alternate periods of activity with periods of active and inactive rest as appropriate.
- Be extremely cautious when lifting weights as this activity causes more lactic acid buildup.
- Increase your weightlifting period gradually by keeping in considerations the weights and repetitions.
Step 5 – Stretch after intense workout!
Stretch immediately after your workout. Stretching after workout helps release lactic acid and gives an immediate relief to your muscles preventing them from lactic acid buildup and muscle soreness.
- Lactic acid can take around 30 minutes to an hour to disperse post-workout, so make sure to cool down appropriately and stretch right after.
- It is even recommended by various sports medicine experts such as Dr. Herbert Haupt to stretch after a prolonged workout to reduce the buildup of lactic acid.
Step 6 – Use a foam roller to massage the muscles!
Using a foam roller on your muscles loosens tight muscles and reduces the buildup of lactic acid as this act stimulates blood flow and encourages lymphatic drainage.
- You can also massage your muscles with a foam roller before an intense workout.
- Applying foam roller on your muscles can be done regularly for relief and relaxation.
Step 7 – Reduce lactic acid buildup through diet!
Apart from above-mentioned steps, including certain foods into your daily diet can help control lactic acid buildup to avoid lactic acidosis. As per what the experts say, foods and vegetables with magnesium, fatty acids, and B vitamins are recommended.
- Foods rich in Vitamin B are leafy green vegetables, cereals, peas and beans, fish, beef, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
- Vegetables such as Spinach, collard greens, turnip greens, navy beans, kidney beans and seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are great sources of magnesium.
It is not easy to avoid lactic acid buildup when you have an intense workout routine, but you can surely reduce it to minimize the consequences and risks associated with it. Happy exercising!