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Muscular Misnomer #2 Lactic Acid Causes DOMS

Muscular Misnomer #2 Lactic Acid Causes Muscle Soreness

If you have spent any time in the world of strength training you have heard of Lactic Acid and the Dreaded DOMS! DOMS, also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, is exactly what it sounds like. A couple days after working out especially hard or for the first time in a long time, your body will develop stiffness and soreness a few days AFTER working out. In fact, usually the third day after lifting you will feel the worst!

So what causes this feeling?

Ask any gym rat and they will tell you that DOMS and the soreness you are feeling come from Lactic Acid buildup in the muscles.

Without getting too in-depth into the exact processes (Feel free to google Glycolysis, the Krebs Cycle, and the Cori Cycle yourself) your body goes through the process of breaking down glycogen and one of the byproducts of that reaction is Lactic acid. This process happens during levels of high intensity training. It has always been believed that the presence of this Lactic Acid was the blame for the DOMS you are feeling a few days later.

Turns out that is not the case.

Yes, there is a lactic acid is your muscles after intense bouts of training, but the truth is that it is flushed out of your muscles within about an hour or so after the completion of training. Per Gillinick and colleagues ( it is noted that instead of the lactic acid being the culprit, it is the change in PH level in the muscles that causes the soreness to take place. This process is referred to as Metabolic Acidosis, and it is when your muscles become more acidic and the PH of the skeletal muscle decreases.

On top of the lowered PH within the skeletal muscle leading to the burning feeling and pain you experience with DOMS, there is another culprit that is causing you discomfort.

During weight training or high intensity workouts, you are putting stress on the muscles. This stress causes micro-tears and rips inside the tiny fibers of the muscle. This is normal and is in fact what tells the body that you need to build stronger and denser muscle.

Pretty cool huh?

There you have it!

Another Muscular Misnomer has been cleared up.

The next time you hear somebody complaining over their lactic acid causing them pain a few days after working out, you can set them straight and tell them that Metabolic Acidosis is to blame!

If you have any questions about anything I talk about in these blogs, want to ask me questions about your training, or want to work with me, shoot me an email at .

I look forward to hearing from you!

Sam Brown


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