To reduce lactic acid build up, you need to stay hydrated, especially while working out. Breathe deeply and work out often. Decrease intensity if your muscles start to burn. Remember to stretch after your workout. Lastly, reduce lactic acid through your diet. Eat more magnesium, fatty acids, and vitamin B.
Understand that lactic acid does not cause muscle soreness after a workout. Lactic acid is often wrongly accused of being responsible for the post-workout muscle soreness experienced 1 to 3 days after a hard workout. However, new research shows that lactic acid (which operates as a temporary fuel source during intense physical activity) washes out of the system within an hour of the end of a workout, so it cannot be responsible for the pain felt days later.
The latest theory suggests that this muscle pain — also known as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS — is the result of damage to the muscle cells during intense exercise. This causes inflammation, swelling and tenderness as the muscles repair themselves.
In order to reduce muscle soreness after a workout, it is necessary to do a proper warm up before exercising. This wakes up the muscles and prepares them for physical activity. It is also important to avoid pushing yourself past your physical limit and to build up your workouts gradually instead.
Understand that lactic acid causes the burning sensation during a workout. On the other hand, built-up lactic acid is responsible for the burning sensation you experience while pushing yourself hard during a workout.
Usually, the body uses oxygen to produce energy in the body. However, when you push yourself hard during a workout, your body requires energy faster than your body can produce it using aerobic methods.
When this happens, your body uses anaerobic methods to produce energy, as it can do this much faster than with aerobic methods. Lactic acid – or lactate – is a by-product of these anaerobic energy production methods.
Your body can continue to produce energy anaerobically for up to three minutes. During this time, levels of lactic acid in your muscles begin to increase rapidly, which leads to the burning sensation you associate with intense physical activity.
After 3 minutes, the lactic acid begins to slow down the muscles, warning your body that it is close to its physical limit. In this way it operates as a defense mechanism, protecting you from injury and fatigue.
Even though small quantities of lactic acid are necessary and even good for your body in certain circumstances, it is still necessary to prevent lactic acid levels from building up too quickly. If you don’t, you will find it hard to work out comfortably or to the best of your ability.
Reducing lactic acid build up — though it won’t prevent DOMS – will help you to work out harder for longer, which is essential for any good athlete.
Reducing Lactic Acid During a Workout
Stay hydrated. Lactic acid is water soluble, so the more hydrated you are, the less likely you are to feel a burn while you workout and cause lactic acid build up.
Drink plenty of fluids while you work out. By the time you notice you are thirsty during a workout, you may already be dehydrated.
Drink 8 to 16 oz. (236.6 ml to 473 ml) of water before you workout, then drink 8 oz. (236.6 ml) of water for every 20 minutes you workout.
Breathe deeply. The cause of the burning sensation you feel in your muscles while exercising is twofold: it is partly due to the build up of lactic acid, but it is also due to a lack of oxygen.
You can ameliorate this by paying close attention to your breathing while you exercise. Be sure to breathe deeply in and out, at an even pace. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
This will help to deliver oxygen to your muscles and stop the production of lactic acid.
Work out frequently. The more physically fit you are, the less glucose your body will need to burn and there will be less acid build up.
You should try to work out several times a week, but make sure to take at least one or two rest days to allow your muscles to recover.
Increase the intensity of your workouts gradually. Develop a workout plan to add minutes or repetitions slowly to your routine – this will gradually raise the level at which your body starts to produce lactic acid.
Be cautious when lifting weights. Weightlifting is an activity that tends to promote lactic acid build up because it requires more oxygen than our bodies can deliver.
Although we have been told to “feel the burn,” a build up of lactic acid may also lead to micro-tears that can cause trauma in the muscles and leave you sore for days.
Be sure to increase the weight and repetitions gradually to keep healthy levels of lactic acid in the body.
Decrease the intensity of your workout if you start to feel a burn. The burning sensation you feel during intense exercise is the body’s defense mechanism trying to prevent overexertion.
If you are doing aerobic activities, like running, walking fast, biking or using an elliptical or stair stepper, slow your speed. If you are doing weights, lower the number of repetitions or reduce the size of the weight.
As you catch your breath, more oxygen will be delivered to your muscles and release the lactic acid.
Stretch after your workout. Since lactic acid disperses 30 minutes to an hour after your workout, stretching helps to release lactic acid, alleviating any burning sensations or muscle cramps you might be experiencing.
Stretch your muscles lightly follow any intense exercise, and also use your fingertips to massage the area gently.
This will also decrease any micro-trauma that may be responsible for soreness in the days following a workout.
Stay active. Rest after your workout, but lead an active life. Muscles need activity as well as oxygen and water to stay healthy. If you feel a burn in your muscles occasionally, there is no cause for alarm; lactic acid in small amounts is not damaging to your body and may even have some beneficial effects on your metabolism.
Reducing Lactic Acid Through Your Diet
Increase your magnesium intake. The mineral magnesium is essential for proper energy production within the body. Healthy magnesium levels will help the body to deliver energy to the muscles while exercising, thus limiting the build up of lactic acid. Therefore, you should make an effort to increase your daily magnesium intake, preferably through your diet.
Vegetables like swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and green beans, legumes like navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and lima beans and seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds are all excellent sources of magnesium. Tofu – especially nigari tofu – is particularly rich in magnesium.
It is also possible to increase magnesium intake through supplements, however, with a healthy diet rich in the food sources described above, this should not be necessary.
Get essential fatty acids from cold water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, from nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseed and from plant oils such as corn oil, sunflower oil and soybean oil.
Fatty acids also work to reduce inflammation, which helps to lessen muscle soreness in the days following a tough workout.
Eat foods rich in fatty acids. A healthy intake of foods rich in fatty acids helps the body to break down glucose, a process which is essential for normal energy production. This can help to limit the body’s need for lactic acid during a tough workout and keep you going for longer.
Drink baking soda dissolved in water. Baking soda is an alkaline substance, so when taken internally it can help to neutralize the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles.
This can help you to work out harder for longer, as your muscles will not start to burn as quickly.
For the correct quantity, mix 0.3g of baking soda for every kilogram of body weight into 12 oz of cold water. Add a little lemon juice to improve the flavor, if you like.
Eat foods containing B vitamins. B vitamins are useful in transporting glucose around the body, which helps to fuel the muscles during a workout, thus reducing the need for lactic acid.
Foods that contain high quantities of B vitamins include leafy green vegetables, cereals, peas and beans, along with protein-rich foods such as fish, beef, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Foods high in B vitamins also help to replenish the body with other nutrients that are lost during intense exercise.