If you’ve ever done anything physical for a long period of time, you’re familiar with muscle weakness and muscle fatigue– but you may not be quite so familiar with lactic acid, and the role it plays in your body’s function. If you’re in the dark, you really shouldn’t stay there. The more you know about how your body uses energy to get the work done, and later replenishes it during times of rest, the more you can do to maximize your potential during your workouts and stave off muscle fatigue.
Lactic Acid and You
The body can generate energy for the muscles in two ways primarily. Under most circumstances, the body relies on oxygen. An aerobic energy supply is efficient for the common demands of the human body. However, in times of stress, when the body needs a lot of energy all at once, aerobic energy production simply isn’t enough. Under these circumstances, the body produces energy anaerobically. This energy generation, while it exceeds what can be produced aerobically, is inefficient, and cannot be sustained. This is because anaerobic energy generation produces the waste product lactic acid.
Lactic Acid and Muscle Weakness
Lactic acid builds up in the muscles as a result of anaerobic energy production. This acid makes it difficult for the body to produce further energy, and this is the reason why an excessive workout in a short period of time will cause your muscles to have that burning feeling. This extreme discomfort is actually a defense mechanism to prevent your body from doing permanent damage to itself during your most strenuous moments. But what can you do about muscle weakness and how can you clear out lactic acid faster?
There’s no way to ‘cure’ lactic acid buildup, however, there are things you can do. As you might have guessed, breathing helps. After all, if you’ve ever been tired, you have no doubt found yourself panting until you can catch your breath. Aerobic energy production can help make up for the energy deficit you’ve just put your muscles through- and to that end, the best way to deal with lactic acid buildup is to limit it as much as possible in the first place. This means training for endurance as well as power (or speed) to acclimate your body to more strenuous exertion. Otherwise, preparation like stretching or warm-up sets prime your body for a harder workout.
If you want to get the most out of your workout, which includes staving off lactic acid buildup, and consequently muscle weakness, preparation is everything. Stretch out before you get started, and make sure you warmup and cool down properly, make sure your blood vessels are not constricted so oxygen can circulate and be delivered efficiently to the muscles.