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Hydrogenbond's avatar

What does lactic acid do for your body?

Asked by Hydrogenbond (365 points ) February 16th, 2010

I’ve heard that it’s good and that it is also bad. Do any experts know what exactly it does?

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11 Answers

cyn's avatar

I’ve always thought lactic acid is used for muscles strengthening…

syz's avatar

Lactic acid doesn’t do anything for your body, it’s a by-product of the breakdown of ATP, the source of energy for your muscles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactic_acid

http://www.brianmac.co.uk/lactic.htm

Cruiser's avatar

It builds up in your muscles after a workout or strenuous use and is that painful reminder you over did it. Potassium will help break it down to alleviate the buildup and discomfort.

syz's avatar

@Cruiser I’m finding a number of articles that seem to debunk the “lactic acid causes muscle pain” theory. It has surprised me, I was also taught that lactic acid caused muscle stiffness and pain.

http://www.time-to-run.com/theabc/lactic.htm

http://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/9258.html

Rarebear's avatar

Lactic acid results from a breakdown of pyruvate from glycolysis. Glucose, instead of going into the Krebs cycle, which requires oxygen, goes into glycolysis, forming pyruvate. If there’s not enough oxygen around, the pyruvate gets formed into lactate. In terms of what it does for you body, the answer is nothing. The presence of lactate is a marker of anaerobic metabolism.

Cruiser's avatar

@syz I don’t see the debunking other than laying down a new school of thought…any way you slice it, color it or serve it…lactic acid buildup in the muscles hurts….that is a signal you have done enough or as Dr. Mirkin points out is the training “threshold” for top athletes. Means you have done enough and time to cool down to repair and same as old schooler’s recommendations. Good push back though!!

Rarebear's avatar

Muscle pain after a workout isn’t from lactic acidosis, but tiny muscle tears.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_onset_muscle_soreness

wundayatta's avatar

Lactic acid, I believe, keeps you from overusing your muscles, perhaps saving them from significant long term damage.

drhat77's avatar

Lactic Acid is important for glucose metabolism in cells like red blood cells that don’t have mitochondira, and therefore cannot perform aerobic respiration.

When muscles run out of oxygen, they will also switch over to anerobic respiration, using the lactic acid to help facilitate that. I used to know the exact chemical pathways but i’ve forgotten since then.

Moegitto's avatar

Lactic Acid is used by your body to help breakdown broken muscle. When you first start lifting weights or doing a strenuous activity, you feel that initial pain the whole first week because your muscles are in a state of being “damaged”. That’s all that weight lifting is, you damage your muscles and your body repairs them to withhold THAT threshold. That’s why you increase weight or resistance slowly. The pain is caused by the Lactic acid breaking down the muscle splinters so the threads can grow back the way they should. When we get older, our bodies get progressively weaker, and then doing something that used to be easy or normal becomes harder. So as we get older Lactic Acid starts breaking down muscle inefficiently. So to answer your question, Lactic Acid when your young and active is good, Lactic acid when your getting older can become a problem.

Moegitto's avatar

Didn’t mean to post twice, but here’s a study that proves what drhat77 was saying

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-does-lactic-acid-buil

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