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Myth-busting: lactic acid

Furthermore reports on four common myths about lactate, the substance your body produces when you use carbs for energy, regarding how it affects performance and muscle soreness according to experts.

Furthermore spoke to Polly de Mille RN, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USAT, director of sports performance at HSS, who debunked the notion of lactate being a waste product responsible for slowing people down mid-workout. "By no means does lactate fall into this category," said de Mille, as most of the lactate produced during exercise gets converted into energy to power your workout.

Additionally, lactate does not make your muscles burn. “As you break down carbs for fuel, the resulting adenosine triphosphate (the source of energy for all the cells in your body) releases hydrogen ions. When these ions accumulate, the pH levels in your muscles drop, making them more acidic. That, combined with the heat that builds up in your muscles bring demanding efforts, explains the burn—not lactate,” said de Mille.

Because the substance is associated with tough workouts, people often think lactate causes soreness. However, de Mille explained soreness sets in because of the inflammation and micro-tears that occur in the muscles during hard sessions. "If lactate were responsible, you’d feel sore after every intense workout," she cited.

Lastly, while its common to see people foam rolling after they train as a way to "flush" the lactate out of their system, de Mille explained while foam rolling has many benefits, they are unrelated to flushing out lactate. “Even if you sat down and did nothing after a hard workout, your lactate levels would return to normal within thirty to sixty minutes,” noted de Mille.

This article originally appeared on Furthermore.equinox.com.