Ever been sore after a workout? I’m sure of it. Lactic acid, heard of it? For years on end it was the belief as to why humans would be sore after a workout. The way we came about finding out about lactic acid is a little odd. Research from the 1920’s found that exposure of frog legs to high levels of lactic acid interfered with the ability of muscle to respond. It was then concluded that fatigue occurred at high exercise intensities because the cardiovascular system could no longer supply the muscles with enough oxygen to keep pace with muscular energy demands, resulting in increasing reliance on anaerobic glycolysis, hence lactate buildup. In English your muscles would fatigue at a level and without oxygen lactate would form. This idea was so widely believed by everyone until 2006 when George Brooks was able to show that “endurance training reduces the amount of lactate that enters the bloodstream without affecting the amount of lactate that the muscle cells produce”. Thus leading to the discovery that “during moderate-intensity exercise, most of the carbohydrate that is broken down for energy is processed aerobically and produces no lactate”. When intensity is increased a 2nd pathway ramps up giving the muscle 2 pathways to release energy. This 2nd pathway breaks down glucose into lactate without oxygen and then the lactate is broken into carbon dioxide and water. Brooks research went on to find that lactate is actually a cell signaler and what its actually doing is signaling for the production of more mitochondria thus enhancing the ability to burn lactate in a future workout.
So with the lactic acid myth being proved false obviously more research had to be done and what was concluded was that muscles experience DOMS after a workout. Delayed onset muscle soreness, the soreness is actually due the microscopic rips and tears in the muscle fibers. These microscopic rips are the fundamental reason for the soreness.
To combat the soreness obviously rest is important but other methods such as foam rolling and stretching will boost the recovery rate. Foam rolling with a foam roller is meant to be used with the intentions of rolling over a large set of muscle groups like hamstring, quads, etc. Foam rolling with a lacrosse ball is for a more precise location such as your lower back and pinpoint areas. When foam rolling with a foam roller strive for hitting your trigger points where you feel knots in the muscle. To foam roll properly apply moderate pressure to the tight/sore muscle group using your body weight, no more than 1 inch per second. The pain you will feel will be uncomfortable but not unbearable. By releasing the trigger points, it helps to reestablish proper movement patterns and enhance performance. Drink plenty of water and get enough sleep along with eating clean and this will help cleanse your system and fuel your muscles more effectively.
– Josh Hunter—Trainer and Nutrition Coach, firstname.lastname@example.org