Runners Unite…Lactic Acid Debunked

By May 19, 2012Pain Info, Blog

Runners Unite…Lactic Acid Debunked

Ah yes the running season is in full swing and we are now seeing the rush of post event athletes needing to recover fast so they can get to the next scheduled endorphine release. The most common misconception with many runners is that the post event massage session is designed to flush the remaining lactic acid from their muscles. This is one of the great myths of the active lifestyle marketplace. The fact is that your body has an incredible ability to flush toxins and waste out quickly.

Lets take a look at what lactic acid is. To put it simply it is the byproduct of anaerobic energy production. See how easy that was to understand. Maybe we should explain a little better. When you run you are doing something called aerobic exercise. This simply means that the energy being used for the activity is combining sugars (the fuel) and oxygen (this is the aerobic part) to create muscle contractions that help propel you towards the finish line. When you are running the majority of your fuel (sugars) are burned with oxygen resulting in byproducts that are easily removed by the body… water (sweat), carbon dioxide (breath), and heat.

But here is the kicker. As time goes on your body can’t always keep up with your energy demands so it has to use another way of producing energy for muscle contraction to keep you running…anaerobic metabolism. In other words you burn your fuel without oxygen and one of the byproducts is lactic acid. Now if the lactic acid is not removed quickly then you get a build-up of hydrogen ions which end up being the real culprits for your muscle cramping. But the great news is that the body generally clears lactic acid quickly and this is not the reason for your post race muscle pain.

The real reason for your post race muscle pain is DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) brought on by micro tears in your muscle fibres. Sounds horrible but it’s usually a good thing in that muscles grow and improve through this process…unless of course you have overstressed the muscle and caused damage through larger muscle or fascial tears. So this is where massage therapy comes in to help speed up your recovery. The science behind massage has shown that the process of massage therapy initiates a healing response by your body that increases enzyme production. These enzymes actually help repair the micro tears in your muscle faster and this in turn gets you back to running again and of course the ever coveted endorphin rush.

So come in and see us for your post race massage and we’ll make sure you get your next endorphin rush faster.

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