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The Reason Muscles Are Sore After Exercise Has Nothing to Do With Lactic Acid

As many of us hit the gym or go for a run to recover from the silly season, you might notice a bit of extra muscle soreness.

This is especially true if it has been a while between workouts.

A common misunderstanding is that such soreness is due to lactic acid build-up in the muscles.

Research, however, shows lactic acid has nothing to do with it. The truth is far more interesting but also a bit more complex.

It’s not lactic acid

We’ve known for decades that lactic acid has nothing to do with muscle soreness after exercise.

In fact, as one of us (Robert Andrew Robergs) has long argued, cells produce lactate, not lactic acid. This process actually does not cause the build-up of acid in the muscles and bloodstream.

Unfortunately, historical inertia means people still use the term “lactic acid” in relation to exercise.

Lactate doesn’t cause major problems for the muscles you use when you exercise. You’d probably be worse off without it due to other benefits to your working muscles.

Lactate isn’t the reason you’re sore a few days after upping your weights or exercising after a long break.

So, if it’s not lactic acid and it’s not lactate, what is causing all that muscle soreness?

Muscle pain during and after exercise

When you exercise, a lot of chemical reactions occur in your muscle cells. All these chemical reactions accumulate products and by-products, which cause water to enter the cells.

That causes the pressure inside and between muscle cells to increase.

This pressure, combined with the movement of molecules from the muscle cells, can stimulate nerve endings and cause discomfort during exercise.

The pain and discomfort you sometimes feel hours to days after an unfamiliar type or amount of exercise has a different

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