Lactate Accumulation is Disadvantageous

There is a lot of debate especially since the early 2000s on whether or not lactate accumulation is an advantage or disadvantage to skeletal muscles. Lactate can effect the release of Ca+ in a muscle in a negative way. Lactate can cause an impairment on the release of Ca+ release channels on the sarcoplasmic reticulum [1]. This is a problem because Ca+ plays a major role in muscle contraction. If Ca+ channels cannot release calcium ions properly it can effect muscle contraction. When you are working out and develop a build up of lactate, your muscles do not contract as well and can lead to a fatigued feeling. This build up of lactate and H+ ions can decline the force your muscles can exert [2]. An experiment was performed to test if lactate build up is related to muscle fatigue. Subjects had to perform an arm workout and follow it with a leg workout [1]. When doing the leg exercise after the arm workout there was evidence of a shorter time until muscle fatigue set in compared to subjects who did not perform an arm workout prior [1]. There was a lower pH and lactate release from the leg exercise, meaning the muscles have been fatigued faster. The lower pH in muscles is shown to decrease overall muscle performance [2]. When muscles can’t perform at their best they start to tire and result in eventual fatigue. The lower pH and decrease in Ca+ release can cause muscles to fatigue faster than those that have higher pH levels and normal Ca+ release.

[1] Burnley, Mark, et al. “Lactic Acid Accumulation Is an Advantage/Disadvantage during Muscle Activity.” Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 101, no. 2, 2006, pp. 683–683.

[2] Cairns, Simeon P. “Lactic Acid and Exercise Performance.” Sports Medicine, vol. 36, no. 4, 2006, pp. 279–291.

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