It is a common and widespread opinion that the accumulation of lactic acid is responsible for the fatigue and muscle pain that is felt after intense physical activity. In reality, these disorders, identified in the technical lexicon as DOMS (delayed onset muscle pain), are not, according to the most recent research, linked to lactic acid, which on the contrary would have a neutral or, in some cases, even favorable role for muscle performance. In fact, the lactic acid produced during muscular effort is disposed of in a few minutes or at most in a few hours after the end of the activity. Muscle pains, on the other hand, arise the day after or even two days after doing physical activity, especially if it involves efforts you are not used to, intense exercise or after a period of inactivity.
How, then, is lactic acid formed? Are there any remedies for lactic acid in calves and muscle pain relief? The answer to these and other questions in the following paragraphs.
Definition of lactic acid and how it is formed
Lactic acid is produced in the legs even without sport. Its production is in fact constant in our body and is related to the contraction and relaxation of muscle fibers: the more intense and prolonged the effort, the more lactic acid accumulates in the muscles. Contrary to common opinion, the accumulation of lactic acid is, according to the most recent studies, an indicator of muscle fatigue at best, but not the cause of the symptoms. It would seem to play a neutral or, according to some researchers, even a favorable role in counteracting fatigue, protecting muscle function during activity and promoting post-exercise recovery.
Lactic acid is the final product of the so-called "anaerobic glycolysis", i.e. the biochemical process that produces metabolic energy in the absence of oxygen: glucose is transformed into pyruvic acid (or pyruvate), which, in the absence of oxygen, can be converted in lactic acid.
So why is lactic acid formed after a workout? Its quantity increases when the energy demand of the muscle increases significantly and rapidly, or when a muscular effort is prolonged for a long time. In these conditions, the blood flow is unable to guarantee a sufficient supply of oxygen to the muscle cells and the muscle is forced to produce part of the necessary energy by exploiting anaerobic glycolysis.
Is it necessary to eliminate lactic acid from the legs?
Our body is perfectly capable of autonomously understanding how to eliminate lactic acid in a few hours: within a maximum of three hours from the end of physical activity, lactic acid disappears completely from our body. A more rapid elimination, favored for example by exercises to cool down at the end of training, a hot bath or shower or good hydration, would have no effect on the onset of muscle pain. If the latter occur after physical activity or even in the following days, some tips to help them disappear are:
- Eliminate intense physical activity and train at low intensity, or concentrate exercises on groups of muscles that are not sore;
- If the pain is particularly significant, rest to allow the muscle to repair the microtraumas affecting the muscle fibres;
- To ease symptoms and inflammation, apply cold compresses to the affected areas;
- If the pain does not go away, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Tachipirina has no effect on lactic acid;
- If after 3-4 days the problem has not resolved, contact your doctor for an evaluation.
How to increase tolerance to lactic acid
Those who practice particular types of running, swimming, athletics, cycling, team sports and bodybuilding, identified as lactacid anaerobic disciplines, work in conditions of maximum lactic acid production and need to dispose of lactic acid in an optimal way at blood, muscle and hepatic. One solution is to train with lactic acid, i.e. choose targeted workouts to saturate the muscles with lactic acid, so that they get used to working in conditions of strong acidity, and simultaneously improve the neutralization of blood acidosis. They are of two types:
- The first works up continuous effort (20-25 minutes) at heart rate values close to the anaerobic threshold;
- The second works at intervals: in athletics 2-6 repetitions for 1-4 series of 150-400 meters at race pace or higher, interspersed with partial rests between repetitions (45-90 seconds) and complete rests between series (5-10 minutes).
FLOKY biomechanical stockings for the recovery and disposal of toxins
Beyond specific workouts to improve tolerance to lactic acid or medications for lactic acid in the legs, a good starting point for improving one's performance is to act on the foot to act on the health of the body. Thanks to the development of innovative screen printing techniques, conceived on the principles of Biomechanics, FLOKY has created a revolutionary sock for the world of sport, capable of promoting performance improvement, preventing injuries and speeding up recovery. The muscle compression of the calf given by the Tape System, present on the socks, increases the squeezing favoring the oxygenation of the internal tissues.
Among the technical sports socks, RE-CHARGE by FLOKY is the first specific biomechanical sock for post-workout or competition recovery. It provides an improving and regenerative support of all the biomechanical functions related to the tendons and muscles of the foot and leg, allowing the activation of the venous return, the elimination of toxins responsible for muscle fatigue, the regeneration of the muscle and the unloading of the parts tendons from overloads and inflammation. The inorganic compounds present in the sock interact with body heat, speeding up the repair of tissue damage, facilitating the resolution of inflammation and stimulating microcirculation.