Negative Effects of Lactic Acid

The benefits of lactic acid accumulation in muscle cells are constantly debated, with some scientists claiming that the other side’s conclusions are the result of overstating their data. However, there is too much data proving that Lactic acid is disadvantageous to exercise performance. Its accumulation contributes to decreased performance in several ways.

In Lamb’s”Point:Counterpoint: Lactic acid accumulation is an advantage/disadvantage during muscle activity,” which is a response to an original paper, it is argued that elevated lactic acid in the blood causes declined performance, possibly because lactic acid reduces blood pH(1). Since Lactate lowered pH, once blood pH is raised, it has been shown to improve performance. These findings further supports the correlation of lactic acid with declined performance. A possible reason for these results could be due it being reported that disruption of calcium release and reloading of the sarcoplasmic reticulum which may be caused by lactate and H+ ions (1). Lactic acid and fatigue are correlated. Additionally, Lamb states that “there is a positive correlation” between Lactate efflux and performance (1).

It seems apparent that Lactic acid accumulation is disadvantageous, and Lamb appears to not approve of so much debate on the topic when evidence of its negative effects are so abundant. According to Lamb, “In the 1990s, we argued that high lactate and low muscle pH is not the primary cause of fatigue in humans, but it seems to contribute during intense exercise. As it currently stands, evidence is still lacking that this is not the case.”


  1. Lamb G.D., Stephenson D.G, Bangsbo J., and Juel C. (2006). Point:Counterpoint: Lactic acid accumulation is an advantage/disadvantage during muscle activity. Journal of Applied Physiology. 100:1410-1414.

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