Most people think that lactic acid is the cause of muscle soreness when you exercise. Most people have been taught this. But the research is now showing that this theory is no longer thought to be scientifically valid. It was based on a false premise. What researchers have found recently is that lactic acid turns very quickly into lactate, and it does not cause irritation to the muscular tissues. The actual cause of delayed sore muscles that many people experience when they exercise is mainly due to micro trauma, which is microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. These tears cause inflammation, which causes soreness.
The lactic acid that your muscles produce is called L-Lactic Acid. This is one form of lactic acid that is very beneficial to you.
There was a study done with mice where one group was fed lactic acid and the other not. They were then made to run through a maze. Both groups were able to complete the maze in the same amount of time. There seems to be no difference between the two groups until the scientists gave them traumatic brain injuries. After this, the mice were put back into the mazes to run the course again. The group that was given normal feed showed symptoms of brain injury by not being able to make it through the maze. They were just running around in circles. The amazing thing about the group that was given lactic acid is that even though they had the same traumatic brain injuries, they were able to make it through the maze with no problem, just like before. They showed no residual effects from the traumatic brain injury. The conclusion was that the lactic acid was neuroprotective. It protects the neurons in the brain. The way our bodies produce L-Lactic Acid, again, is from exercise. So it turns out that exercise is protecting our brain.
The type of exercise that produces the most L-Lactic Acid is not when you do short bursts of exertion or when you do long periods of exercise. It is somewhere in between those extremes. It is when the muscles have used up the creatine phosphate and moved into the glycogen-using stage, when the muscles can’t get enough oxygen to burn the carbohydrates aerobically so it has to burn them anaerobically. That means without oxygen. Because this takes about 12 chemical reactions, it supplies energy more slowly than using creatine phosphate. It will produce enough energy to last about 90 seconds.
One of the chemical reactions that happens is converting glucose to ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the body’s biochemical way to store and transport energy. A by-product of making ATP without oxygen is lactic acid. Another term that is used for anaerobic (without oxygen) chemical reactions is fermentation. Now, not all fermentations are good but this one is. It produces the important L-Lactic Acid along with ATP.
In another experiment that was done, male mice were placed in a swimming environment where they were forced to swim at a rate where their muscles were producing lactic acid. Lactic acid is quickly turned into lactate. Now they noticed that as the level of lactate increased in the blood, so also did the level of the hormone testosterone at the same rate. This is important because many older male Americans are low in testosterone. This is a problem because low testosterone levels are a major predictor of early mortality.
If you are female, you can produce an important hormone call progesterone. Progesterone is also a crucial metabolic intermediate in the production of other internal origin steroids, including the sex hormones and the corticosteroids, and plays an important role in brain function as a neurosteroid. Many older women are low in progesterone. There can be a lot of problems in the body when the estrogen and progesterone levels are out of balance.
Another study was done with female mice in a swim tank and their blood composition was being monitored. As their lactic acid levels increased from exercising, so also did their levels of progesterone increase.
We can learn from this that we can increase our levels of either testosterone or progesterone by simply exercising at a moderate level.Written by Daniel Baldwin
Ron MeinHardt (Public Health Educator) - Healthislife.org
National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=107689, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/107689 (accessed Mar. 9, 2017).
Healthline Media. http://www.healthline.com/health/testosterone#Overview1