At one point or another, you’ve probably heard of  lactic acid and exercise. Some equate it with the burning that they feel in their muscles after a longer workout, while others think that it’s responsible for the troubles that you might have breathing during your workout. To clear up all the myths and outline the facts about lactic acid, read on.

What is lactic acid?

Lactic acid is a chemical structure made out of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in a chain-like form. It is also known as milk acid. The related substance lactate is produced in the body during a chemical reaction, but lactic acid doesn’t form under such simple conditions. However, the question remains, where does lactic acid come from?

Where lactic acid comes from

Lactic acid is produced as a result of hard work by the muscles. What happens is that when your body is working hard, it produces high levels of lactate in the muscles. When you’re running or sprinting, your body produces so much lactate that it can’t remove it from the muscles quickly enough.

However, while this sounds like a bad thing, it’s actually a sign that your body is finding ways to create energy and ensure that you can keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

However, when the lactate levels get too high, a chemical reaction occurs with other chemicals in the body, creating lactic acid. What you should know is that it is not the rise in lactate levels that leads to that burning feeling in your muscles, but rather it seems that it is the reaction that forms lactic acid that is the cause of the pain. But some scientists are still debating about the pain’s source.

How to overcome lactic acid

But what you really want to know is how you can avoid that burning pain when you are working out. And the answer is simple: work out more. While it might seem counterproductive to workout more, what you need to do is effectively ‘teach’ your muscles to handle lactic acid in a more effective way. However, you want to do this is a controlled fashion so that you’re not hurting each time you walk in the door.

You can start to build up a resistance to lactic acid by working out at a medium intensity during your workouts. This means that you are working just hard enough to get your heart pumping fast and your lungs working a little harder.

You might measure this by how much you can talk as you are working out – which should be in incomplete sentences, though you can still talk. As you build up your muscular and aerobic capacity, your body will be able to handle higher levels of lactic acid and thus reduce the amount of pain that you might feel.

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