Disadvantages of Lactate Accumulation

Lactic accumulation in muscle cells and whether or not it is beneficial or detrimental has been a topic of discussion  for a long time. In Lamb’s article “Point:Counterpoint: Lactic acid accumulation is an advantage/disadvantage during muscle activity,” it discusses how several tests involving exercise were used to determine why lactic accumulation is a disadvantage. In an experiment involving intense arm exercise lactate concentration in the blood was elevated and in turn led to an observed reduction in the performance of leg exercise.  However this is not just limited to certain parts of the body as studies that tested many parts of the body showed similar results. In a knee-exterior exercise the time until exhaustion was 3.5 min while compared to 4.7 min in the normal condition has been used to elevate the lactate concentration in the blood and all have observed a reduction in performance of leg exercise (1).

In another study, when maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) was at 50% it caused muscle fatigue and exhibited the highest elevations in blood lactate concentration, blood pressure and respiratory exchange ratio (2). In addition, blood lactate levels were significant contributors to brain blood flow because it was observed in the standard partial regression coefficients for blood lactate, which showed the degree of effect was p=0.75, suggesting that lactate level affected brain blood flow. Thus, blood lactate concentration during exercise exhibited the greatest increase at this intensity. This study also found that lactate played a role in the sensation of pain and that muscle pain is associated with reduced performance. More studies need to be taken to further prove these ideas but it does seem to be a notion that lactate production is associated with pain, making it disadvantageous.

  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

2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3885857/

One thought on “Disadvantages of Lactate Accumulation

  1. Wow, thats so cool! You always hear about whether lactate is advantageous or detrimental for the body during intense activities. I also feel as if there needs to be more work/research done in order to draw any accurate conclusions about lactate’s effect

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