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Lactic Acid Build-Up: What It Is and How to Prevent It

The lactic acid build-up is a common yet temporary experience that is painful and leaves you with sore muscles. Many athletes have pulled out of tournaments due to this condition that makes it impossible for you to continue to use the affected muscles. For those who engage in strength training and other intense activities, there is a high probability that they will have experienced it at least once. But there is nothing to worry about as it only lasts for a short while and is not life-threatening. It may render you incapable of continuing your workout.

What is lactic acid?

Lactic acid is a by-product of glycolysis, a breakdown of glucose for fuel by the muscles during exercise. This compound is formed within the muscle cells during an intense workout.

What causes lactic acid build-up?

When you engage in a high-intensity workout, your muscles need more oxygen than is supplied, which leads to anaerobic respiration and lactic acid buildup. During moderate exercise, your body removes lactic acid. But when you increase the intensity of your exercise, your body may not keep up when the lactic acid levels increase rapidly.

Lactic acid accumulation can occur in any high-intensity exercise, including running and strength training. When the build-up exceeds a certain threshold, your muscles burn out and can't contract effectively. This situation explains why you may feel a burning sensation in your muscles during exercise.

Why and how to prevent it?

Considering how painful lactic acid build can be, it is crucial to prevent it.

This is how you can prevent it :

Slow down

The first and vital step to prevent lactic acid build-up is to reduce the intensity of the exercise. Apart from the pain from sore muscles, you may sustain injuries if you do not maintain a healthy workout intensity. While you will eventually engage in intense exercise routines, it is best to gradually increase the intensity to allow your body to keep up with your muscles oxygen needs.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated has so many health benefits. Whether you are exercising regularly or just going about your daily activities. Ensure that you drink enough water before, during, and after an intense workout. Proper hydration helps to replenish lost fluids, helps to get nutrients to your muscles, relieves sore muscles, and keeps you performing at optimal levels.


Much like staying hydrated, you cannot overestimate the benefits of rest. Ensure you rest between workouts to allow full muscle recovery. It also gives your body some time to remove excess lactic acid in your muscles.

Get at least a day or two breaks from going to the gym. But you can still do some light workouts.

Improve your breathing

If you can breathe well during intense exercise, you will have reduced the chances of a lactic acid build-up. Your muscles need oxygen to perform at optimal levels. Practice breathing techniques regularly to help you improve your breathing during exercise so that you can deliver more oxygen to your muscles.


Doing a light warm-up before and after a workout, even if it's only a few minutes, can help prevent lactic acid buildup. Doing a light warm-up or stretching will improve your blood flow and get some oxygen to your muscles before hitting the intense routines.

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