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The lactic acid myth
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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Sep 7, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

I recently learned a little information that i just thought I'd share.

Everyone has heard people say "when muscles tire out it's due to a build up of lactic acid." Well, as it turns out, this is completely backwards. When muscles tire out, it's due to the inability of the muscles to absorb the lactate ion (NOT lactic acid, lactic acid doesn't even exist in our body due to our body's pH being nowhere near low enough to produce it). The muscle burning feeling is due to hydrogen ions being released, decreasing the pH of the muscle (acidosis).

How is this going to help you? Eh, it's not, i just thought it was interesting.


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By Joseph Stover
From Batesville, AR
Sep 7, 2011

www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-does-lactic-ac>>>

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactic_acid

Interesting... learn something everyday...

in lay language a statement of causation is the same thing as one of correlation... and scientific words +/- a few syllables are equivalent.


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By saxfiend
Administrator
From Decatur, GA
Sep 7, 2011
Relaxing at the P1 belay of Fruit Loops at Rumbling Bald.

I've read this somewhere before, maybe on rc.com; can't remember the details. I expect Mike Anderson is well-versed on the subject, maybe he'll chime in here.

I wonder if lactic acid causes microfractures in biners . . .

JL


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Sep 7, 2011
Mathematical!

saxfiend wrote:
I've read this somewhere before, maybe on rc.com; can't remember the details.



This was brought up in a post on climbing training regimens a few months back. Interesting information and good to know nonetheless!


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By Woodchuck ATC
Sep 7, 2011
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Was a blurb on the local network news one night a week or so ago. They just blew by it with no concern or follow up.


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By DBarton
From CENTENNIAL, CO
Sep 7, 2011
Moab, Potash Road and Ice Cream Parlor

Evan Sanders wrote:
I recently learned a little information that i just thought I'd share. Everyone has heard people say "when muscles tire out it's due to a build up of lactic acid." Well, as it turns out, this is completely backwards. When muscles tire out, it's due to the inability of the muscles to absorb the lactate ion (NOT lactic acid, lactic acid doesn't even exist in our body due to our body's pH being nowhere near low enough to produce it). The muscle burning feeling is due to hydrogen ions being released, decreasing the pH of the muscle (acidosis). How is this going to help you? Eh, it's not, i just thought it was interesting.


I always understood that the myth involved lactic acid causing sore muscles, not tiring them out. Either way, this may be wrong as well.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Sep 7, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

DBarton wrote:
I always understood that the myth involved lactic acid causing sore muscles, not tiring them out. Either way, this may be wrong as well.


Yeah i saw something about DOMS somewhere, but it's basically the same idea.


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By BASE99999
Sep 8, 2011

Evan Sanders wrote:
I recently learned a little information that i just thought I'd share. Everyone has heard people say "when muscles tire out it's due to a build up of lactic acid." Well, as it turns out, this is completely backwards. When muscles tire out, it's due to the inability of the muscles to absorb the lactate ion (NOT lactic acid, lactic acid doesn't even exist in our body due to our body's pH being nowhere near low enough to produce it). The muscle burning feeling is due to hydrogen ions being released, decreasing the pH of the muscle (acidosis). How is this going to help you? Eh, it's not, i just thought it was interesting.




This information is a bit dated. What is your source Evan?
Here is something from the NY Times from 5/2006.

www.nytimes.com/2006/05/16/health/nutrition/16run.html


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Sep 8, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Seems like the NYT got a few things wrong.

My source is the exercise physiology book in front of me. It may be dated information, but I'm just now reading about it and wanted to share.


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By Martin le Roux
From Superior, CO
Sep 8, 2011
Stairway to Heaven

There was a long and quite technical discussion about this just a couple of months ago. Here's the link: mountainproject.com/v/107176225

Unfortunately it doesn't seem that these advances in our understanding of muscle physiology have made a difference to our knowledge of how best to train for climbing.


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Sep 8, 2011

Martin le Roux wrote:
Unfortunately it doesn't seem that these advances in our understanding of muscle physiology have made a difference to our knowledge of how best to train for climbing.


Bingo!

It may be relevant if you were going to conduct training experiments in which you were planning to measure blood pH levels and use it as an indication of fatigue or something along those lines. For the lay-person, however, I'm not sure this changes anything as far as how you train.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Sep 11, 2011

There have been many attempts and studies for finding a way to buffer the acidosis. Ingestion of a sodium bicarbonate solution being the most common.

I haven't looked at the lit in a long time, but my hazy memory says that the effectiveness was debatable and the quantities of baking soda necessary for an effect were very high, to the point that side effects could easily counteract or outweigh the ergogenic effects.


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By Eric Thomson
Nov 24, 2011

It seems more like the problem is that the lactic acid is aqueous and therefore should separate into its constituent ions and releases the H+ which creates an acidic environment.
"The muscle burning feeling is due to hydrogen ions being released, decreasing the pH of the muscle (acidosis)."
The lactate ion isn't what's causing the problem which is true but the hydrogen that you're talking about being released is released from the lactic acid molecule because its in solution.


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