"Flushing Lactate"

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Clell
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"Flushing Lactate"

Post by Clell » Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:58 pm

I read oftentimes in varying articles on running about how after a hard day, that the next day it is good to run a few strides or some short faster paced segments to "flush lactate" out of our system. Is lactate really hanging around that long in our muscle fibers? Is the whole "flushing lactate" misunderstood?

dkggpeters
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Re: "Flushing Lactate"

Post by dkggpeters » Wed Apr 08, 2015 1:02 pm

My understanding is that you can do a hard lactic producing workout and immediately after the last rep curl up in a ball on the track and after a couple of hours you would essentially have the same amount of residual lactic acid in your system as if you did a cool down. Not advocating doing this as a cool down brings your system back in homeostasis allowing for quicker recovery.

Tinman
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Re: "Flushing Lactate"

Post by Tinman » Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:06 pm

Clell,

Anyone who writes an article in which they state the lactate is flushed out the day following a hard workout has no clue what they are talking about. Lactate doesn't last more than even an hour in your body, and that would be if you sat down (still) after an insanely hard effort such as an all-out 600-800m run/race. If lactate is elevated that long, either the runner is aerobically unfit or he/she is emotionally revved up - and hormones are keeping lactate that high.

If you jog a couple of miles after a hard workout or short race, the vast majority of lactate is consumed/used by various tissues, such as slow (type I) muscle fibers, the heart, the brain, liver, and kidneys, and even red blood cells. The concept of lactate consumption by various tissues is described in the book which I co-authored (Build Your Running Body).

Note that lactate does not cause damage to a runner's body. Lactate is an intermediate fuel, that's it. Lactate is transported/exported out of fast muscle fibers during intense exercise: acid (protons) are co-transported with lactate by MCT (monocarboxylate transporters). Carbonic anhydrase in blood plasma neutralizes (buffers) the acid. Yet, some buffering occurs within (hard-working) fast twitch (type II) fibers; however, a point exists where too much acid buildup occurs and either the cell (muscle fiber) begins shutting down (working less efficiently) or doesn't at all perform cross-bridging for muscle contractions.

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dilluh
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Re: "Flushing Lactate"

Post by dilluh » Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:05 pm

This topic sets my BS detector off immediately when I see this talked about by runners or written by supposed experts. First off, if anyone is saying that 'lactic acid' is what causes fatigue, you can be fairly well assured that they don't know what they're talking about. Lactic acid in aqueous solutions (and your body) dissociates nearly completely into lactate anion (negative charge) and a proton (H+, positive charge) - as Tinman has pointed out. Lactate is a fuel. People get confused about lactate's role because it is often correlated with a drop in pH. The drop in pH comes from the increased concentration of protons, NOT from lactate itself and the fatigue that results is related to the affects of this prolonged acidosis state.

As Dave pointed out, there are other good reasons to go ahead and do a few miles of warm down but "flushing lactic acid" is not one of them.

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Re: "Flushing Lactate"

Post by Tinman » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:08 pm

Well said, Dilluh!

I advise runners to jog between repetitions (during workouts) to reduce acidosis. Why does that work? Simply put, more (but less intense) running pushes protons (H+) from muscle fibers (cells) into the blood stream (called outflux), where a portion of the accumulated acid can be neutralized (buffered). However, some of the buffering, especially in runners who train using high intensity running, occurs within (intracellular) muscle fibers.

The rate of total body buffering is roughly twice as fast when athletes jog between reps, thus demonstrating that lower intensity (aerobic) exercise is good for runners during workouts. Because the amount of acid generated in working fibers/cells is paired with catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine, in particular), easy running, which raises pH of both blood and muscle fibers, will accordingly lower hormones that elevate the body's fight-of-flight mechanism (the elevated capacity to run harder is paired with the body's "fear" complex or "need" complex for safety). Hence, you should recover better in the hours that follow a workout if you take the time to run easy long enough in order to lower catecholamine levels. Any runner who has had a hard time sleeping at night following a hard race or workout, after which they did not "cool down", knows what I mean; they have the "jitters," the agitation and inability to relax fully.

Tinman
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