Lactic Acid is not what’s making you sore after training--it’s DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness. A common misconception about overworked and sore muscles is that there’s a build up of lactic acid that needs to be “flushed out”.
WHAT IS LACTIC ACID?
Lactic Acid is a natural byproduct of muscle contractions. It gets recycled within the body and bloodstream into usable energy, it doesn’t get or need to be “flushed out”.
WHAT CAUSES SORENESS?
Micro-tears in the muscles are what cause soreness. These microfiber ruptures cause a pain response.
On the intra cellular level, there is a fluid buildup that swells in the compartment causing pain. This isn’t the kind of swelling you may think of, but more of too much stuff in a small space. This is like any other kind of injury, and needs time to heal. Think about a bruise for example. It’s an internal injury/bleeding that will take time to repair itself from within.
Same with these micro-tears or "micro injuries". Your muscles can repair themselves stronger. That's how we build strength and mass. Yet, how sore you get is not a measure of successful training and should not be the goal. Soreness delays progress because it’s an injury that has to heal.
HOW TO OVERCOME SORENESS
Muscular soreness can last several days if you're not careful. Therefore, you want to train smart and limit injuries, so the next few days can be productive. The irony in this muscle soreness is that what makes you sore has the potential to make you un-sore.
For example, if bench pressing made you sore, do 50% less load at double the reps to get blood to the muscles to repair themselves. This is why program design is so important, but we won’t go into periodization in this article.
A myth I often hear is that being sore will help the team tough it out in the fourth quarter. That’s not true. Conditioning, technique and mental toughness help in the fourth quarter.
Soreness happens, but it’s not the goal.
Let’s look at some basics of how to approach and address soreness in your training program.
In summary, the end goal of training is to get bigger, faster, stronger athletes--not to be sore after every workout.
If soreness continues to occur, change your workouts and pay more attention to recovery and nutrition.