5 Prevalent Lactic Acid Myths: Debunked

Learn about lactic acid myths that aren’t true!

Athletic woman running outside

You know that feeling of soreness you get after a great workout? It’s not what you think!

For so long we’ve been led to believe false truths about lactic acid in our bodies. WebbWell intern Alexa Frost is majoring in Exercise Science at Brigham Young University this semester and and is helping us understand some of the most common misconceptions about exercise. In this article we’re going to explore–and debunk–5 of the most prevalent myths about lactic acid.

Lactic Acid Causes Soreness

One leading myth is that lactic acid causes muscle soreness – that’s not true! When your muscles are sore and you hear “Just gotta roll out that lactic acid…”, it’s not the lactic acid that makes you sore. What causes muscle soreness is the strain in your muscles from working out.

Lactic Acid Buildup Causes Fatigue

Another myth is that lactic acid causes fatigue. Exercise does produce lactic acid but that is not what makes the body feel fatigued, in fact lactic acid can provide energy. Glycogen plays a part in that feeling we experience during exercise. Lactic acid is metabolically processed during periods of rest of low-levels of exercise.

Lactic Acid is Always Bad

A correlating thought is that lactic acid is always bad. Some people think that lactic acid is the primary fat builder but it actually plays a crucial role in the body’s energy metabolism. As mentioned before, it can be an energy source for muscles and is cleared from the body’s bloodstream relatively quickly after a few hours.

Lactic Acid is Removed by Stretching

While stretching is wonderful for muscle mobility and flexibility, it doesn’t eliminate lactic acid from your body. Our bodies naturally metabolize lactic acid with the help of oxygen. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and stiffness, which aids in the mythical idea that lactic acid causes soreness. However, now knowing that lactic acid doesn’t cause soreness, it debunks the idea that stretching removes lactic acid from our bodies.

Lactic Acid Only Comes from Exercise

Lactic acid is produced in many different ways outside of exercise. Lactic acid is produced through anaerobic glycolysis. Through this process, ATP is generated but so is pyruvate. Once pyruvate is created, it can produce lactic acid. However, lactic acid is immediately broken down into lactate or a hydrogen ion because lactic acid is unstable for our body’s systems. Exercise can aid in lactic acid production but isn’t the only form that lactic acid is produced.

About Melanie Webb and WebbWell

Named “The person to call” by DEPARTURES Magazine, “a leader in the adventure travel industry” by Norie Quintos of National Geographic Traveler, and “one of the top trainers in the industry” by The Sports Club/LA (now Equinox), Melanie Webb is the founder and creator of WebbWell and the WebbWell wellness app. A sought-after industry and corporate retreat facilitator and speaker, her fitness course Mother Nature’s Gym Outdoor Fitness Guide is approved for 1.6 CEC’s from American Council on Exercise.

Contributors

Sierra Bowers

Alexa Frost