General Question

aviona's avatar

Can someone explain lactic acid to me?

Asked by aviona (3250points) April 17th, 2009

I know that after we exercise or strain our muscles they get sore because of a buildup of lactic acid, but what is it exactly? Can anyone explain it in plain English?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

aviona's avatar

It still confuses me. I suck at science.

bluedoggiant's avatar

Think of it a fly, and your muscle is the “rat”. When a rat dies, a swarm of flies go and…eat it. Think of your muscle as this rat, and the lactic acid is the fly. Lactic acid literally eats away your muscle.

To avoid this, whatever your exercise is, warm down

on a side note, i have been swimming for years, i simply do not believe in lactic acid

aviona's avatar

Ew. Great visual, thanks.

Do you not believe in it because you warm down and stretch so well @bluedoggiant?

bluedoggiant's avatar

@aviona its funny, I do not warm down and I do not feel its effects compared to when I do warm down. I simply…never really thought I needed to, though my coaches usually tend to push my to do it, but before my speciality event the 50 free two years ago, i didnt warm down from the event before, got 3rd place.

I’m not saying you should ignore it, you should pay attention to it, I do, but I just don’t think its THAT big of a deal as coaches make it saying all the bad things that happen. None of them ever happened to me.

SeventhSense's avatar

I think the buildup is from an inefficient exchange of oxygen in the muscles. For example Rocky on the steps of the library when he first started training and he’s cramping up.

ubersiren's avatar

Lactic acid is what occurs when you “feel the burn” during a strenuous workout. If you build up too much of it, then some can get “trapped” in the muscle and crystalize. This is when you come to me for a massage! Lactic acid (as well as uric acid- which leads to gout) are most easily detected to the untrained fingertips in hands and feet, I find. We massage therapists call them “crunchies.” If you dig around in your foot and hand muscles, you can feel it sort of crunch around. It’s good to break that stuff loose and drink lots of water to flush it out.

tigran's avatar

it is produced during strenuous exercise.
Your muscles need oxygen to function (contract), when the oxygen input is not enough to cover for the amount of exercise (without enough oxygen the primary pathway to make energy molecules stops), then lactic acid starts being produced as an end result of a back up pathway to support your muscle use. Lactic acid is not easily recycled, and its presence in high concentration can be toxic to muscles, and other parts due to its high acidity.

mattbrowne's avatar

As far as I know what you actually feel are salts of lactic acid, called lactates. An example is sodium lactate. When this happens as @tigran described, your muscles depend on chemical exothermic reactions without the use of oxygen. There are fitness tests using blood from your ear lobe to measure the lactate concentration while being on an exercise machine.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther