First week of Call To ACTion!  is over.  I’m not going to lie – I did the TRX class and the Thursday ACT class last week, and it wasn’t easy!

I can still remember after the first round of the conditioning circuit, I was barely able to walk.  I had three and a half minutes of break before the second round starts and I was desperate to relieve the pain.  The clock wound down, and it seemed like the pain was getting even worse!  Pins and needles!  The burning!  The lactic acid is not clearing out fast enough from my legs and round two is about to begin!


At this point, I’m sure you all know the feeling.  The acute, sharp pain in our muscles when we exert ourselves excessively during exercise.  That burning sensation caused by the lactic acid build up – except that that pain isn’t caused by the lactic acid.  What?

That’s right.

The pain sensation feels like burning.  Acid causes burning sensations.  Therefore, the lactic acid causes the burning sensation, right?


The latest scientific research has debunked this understanding decades ago, in fact.  This is known as the lactic acid myth.

The burning pain from doing a hard series of mountain climbers is actually due to the build up of hydrogen ions.  This is a byproduct of glycolysis when you burn sugar for energy in the anaerobic metabolism.  The addition of hydrogen ions is what causes acidosis and it’s this heightened acidic environment in the muscles that inhibits muscular performance.  And unfortunately, the only cure for this pain is to slow down, which I’m sure none of you will object to!

If we look at how we describe the acidity of a substance, we use the pH scale.  The ‘p’ means potential and the ‘H’ means hydrogen!  So the more acidic the substance, the higher concentration of hydrogen ions in the substance.


pH Chart


Without going into further details of the aerobic metabolism and the Krebs cycle, know that the excess hydrogen ions can’t stay, so lactate (not the same thing as lactic acid!) is produced and the hydrogen ions are taken up in the chemical process.  The lactate eventually gets shuttled elsewhere in your body to be used up as fuel as well.

So as it turns out, lactate is actually beneficial in helping to clear out the hydrogen ions!

Wow – that was a lot of biochemistry!  But you made it to here, so give yourself a pat on the back!

Unfortunately, athletic coaches, trainers, and athletes are still unaware of this misconception and keep propagating this lactic acid myth.  But the next time someone complains about the lactic acid pain, you are now charged with the knowledge to re-educate!

I’ll be attending the TRX class tomorrow so if you want to partake with me and endure through the pain of increased hydrogen ions in the muscles, then sign up!


For more reference:


Leave a comment