When working out, it’s important to avoid overexerting yourself. This can lead to injury and lactic acid building. Lactic acid is produced in your muscles and builds up during intense exercise. It can lead to painful, sore muscles.
Lactic acid buildup due to exercise is usually temporary and not cause for a lot of concern, but it can affect your workouts by causing discomfort. Read on to learn how to get rid of lactic acid after it’s built up in your muscles and what you can do to prevent it from building up in the future.
Make sure you’re staying hydrated, ideally before, during, and after strenuous exercise. Proper hydration is important when working out because it may help:
- replenish any fluids that you lose when working out
- rid your body of lactic acid
- allow nutrients to create energy
- relieve sore muscles
- prevent muscle cramps
- keep your body performing at optimal levels
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day, and increase this amount when you exercise.
While exercising regularly can help you maintain consistency, getting enough rest between workouts is important for muscle recovery. It also gives your body the chance to break down any excess lactic acid.
Have at least one full day of rest per week. It’s ok to do some light exercises or movement on rest days, just keep it to a minimum.
Get in the habit of improving your breathing technique. A 1994 study found that athletes who practiced breathing exercises increased their athletic performance without increasing lactic acid levels.
For a simple breathing technique, inhale slowly through your nose and exhale out through your mouth. You may wish to retain your breath for a few seconds after each inhalation, but do this only if it feels comfortable.
You can also try one of these simple breathing exercises to get in the habit of breath awareness while increasing your lung capacity.
Practice these breathing techniques while you’re working out and throughout the day. This may help to deliver more oxygen to your muscles, slowing down the production of lactic acid and helping to release any buildup.
Take time to warm up and stretch your muscles before and after your workout. Doing a few light stretches in the morning and evening can also help. Even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time, your muscles will thank you.
Stretching can help to stimulate circulation, increase flexibility, and relieve tension. This helps bring more oxygen to your muscles, which can reduce lactic acid production and rid your muscles of any accumulation of lactic acid.
Increasing your magnesium intake may help to prevent and relieve muscle soreness and spasms that may accompany lactic buildup. It can also help optimize energy production so that your muscles get enough oxygen while you’re exercising.
A small 2006 study on 30 male athletes found that magnesium supplementation had a positive effect on their athletic performance over a four-week period. This is thought to be because lower levels of lactic acid led to less exhaustion. Larger studies are needed to confirm these results.
Foods rich in magnesium include nuts, legumes, and leafy greens. Taking a magnesium flake or Epsom salt bath is another way to absorb magnesium. It can also help to promote relaxation, boost energy levels, and relieve soreness, especially if you do it on a regular basis.
Adding a glass of orange juice to your pre-workout routine may be beneficial in reducing lactate levels and improving your athletic performance.
In a small 2010 study, researchers asked 26 middle-aged women who were overweight to exercise three times a week for three months. Half of the women were asked to drink orange juice before their workout. The other half did not have any orange juice.
The group that had the orange juice showed lower levels of lactic acid, which suggests that they had less muscle fatigue. They also showed improved physical performance and lowered their cardiovascular risk.
Researchers believe these improvements were due to the participants increased intake of vitamin C and folate. More research is needed to confirm these results.
When lactic acid builds up in your muscles, it can make your muscles feel fatigued or slightly sore. Other symptoms may include:
- muscle soreness or cramping
- burning sensation in the muscles
- rapid or shallow breathing
- shortness of breath
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
If your symptoms are severe or persist, it may a sign of lactic acidosis. This condition can become serious. See your doctor if your suspect lactic acidosis.
1. Build up slowly
Don’t overdo it when you start a new exercise routine or add changes to your existing one. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise program over a period of time. This allows your body time to get used to the workouts as you gain strength and endurance.
Training your body to work at higher intensities helps to maintain proper levels of lactic acid, but it’s something that takes time to develop.
Be consistent in your approach and patient as you await results. Eventually, your body will be able to handle more strenuous exercise with more energy and less discomfort by raising your lactate threshold.
2. Strike a balance
Vary your workouts as much as possible by alternating between aerobic and anaerobic workouts.
Balance out longer walking, running, and swimming workouts with shorter-intensity weightlifting, jumping, or sprinting. This gives your body a chance to adapt to different types of exercise and helps to reduce your risk for overuse injuries.
3. Eat before you exercise
Follow a balanced diet that includes fresh foods, lean meats, and whole grains, especially around the time you exercise. Include foods that are high in B vitamins, potassium, and fatty acids.
Eating a healthy meal before you work out may help to prevent muscle soreness by boosting energy levels. Try eating complex carbohydrates such as beans, vegetables, or grains a few hours before you exercise. Or have some simple carbohydrates, such as fresh fruit, thirty minutes to an hour before your workout.
Remember to have a healthy snack after your workout, too. Choose a snack with healthy protein and fats, such as chicken, a hard-boiled egg, or an avocado.
Lactic acid can cause fatigue and soreness as a way of protecting your body. This can be a reminder for you to slow down and take it easy.
Taking steps to manage lactic acid buildup can help you to develop healthy habits for both your daily life and your exercise program.
Always talk to your doctor before beginning a new workout plan, and See your doctor if you have pain or discomfort after exercising that doesn’t subside after a few days, or if you experience any unusual or severe symptoms.