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drkevinmd, Doctor
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 238
Experience:  Board Certified Family Practice Physician by the American Board of Family Medicine
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Lactic Acid Build up

Resolved Question:

I have trained on a stair machine for 15 minutes a day followed by 45 minutes on an eliptical machine in long johns and sweats to sweat as much as possible. After several weeks of training when I stop for a day or two my thighs begin to cramp up severely and it takes several days or even weeks to recover. How can I prevent this and when I am in it how can I speed up recovery...I think I am building up to much lactic acid and this is causing this.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  drkevinmd replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for your question. You are definitely doing a lot of thigh/quadriceps focused exercises. You are also losing a large amount of electrolytes by increasing the sweat production with the use of added clothing.
Hydrating before, during and immediately after exercise with electrolyte drinks such as gatorade (half strength) would be one good idea. You may also want to weigh yourself before and after exercise to see how much your weight is changing. This is a good measure of fluid loss. You should be either weight neutral or lose less than 2 pounds during this period of exercise. If you are losing more you may be underhydrated and increasing your risk of injury and cramping.
Wearing cooler clothing will help with the amount of electrolytes you are using and doing quadriceps massage may help also.
If you can diversify your exercise to more than stair climber and elliptical you may notice improvement as well. Just light jogging/walking or cycling may help.
You don't need to buy expensive recovery powders in most cases. Usually just some type of snack immediately after exercise will aid in recovery as well such as peanut butter and jelly sandwich or yogurt or chocolate milk are all good (and cheap) recovery meal options.
drkevinmd, Doctor
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 238
Experience: Board Certified Family Practice Physician by the American Board of Family Medicine
drkevinmd and 2 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Is there anything I can do once I find myself in a high lactic acid situation? Right now my cramping is severe and can be EXTREMELY painful (especially when i walk down a flight of stairs) I dont see anything in your answer that deals with preventing lactic acid build up and how to treat it once I have built up to much if I dont prevent it and find myself recovering from high lactic acid build up
Expert:  drkevinmd replied 6 years ago.
The items mentioned above, proper hydration, avoiding excessive perspiration, post exercise massage and immediate post exercise recovery meals all help prevent excessive lactic acid build up. One other option would be immediate post exercise ice baths. This is done commonly for high level athletes including the ultra marathoners and professional football players to prevent further lactic acid damage and aid in recovery. I've used all of these treatment myself but i could not tolerate the ice water bath, it was just to cold for me but i was able to crouch in the tub far enough to immerse my legs which i think did help a great deal. Several of our local running clubs simply recommend swimming in a local creek after hard workouts for cold wate therapy that is more toleable than true ice baths.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Last question, I do appreciate your answers. Your reply helps me to understand what to do to prevent the lactic acid build up and I will employee them all, but right now I am passed preventing it and am in full blown lactic acid attacks....what can I do to recover as quickly as possible from this right now...being beyond the preventing stage and into the damaged state needing recovery. I will accept after this answer, promise.
Expert:  drkevinmd replied 6 years ago.
I have been in your situation before. It usually happens to me when i ramp up my weekly exercise time to quickly or i just go out one weekend and run as far as i can because i just enjoy pushing my physical limits. It's not as much fun when the pain and cramps come on later. The first thing to do is the hardest, if you like to exercise, and that is to sleep more an rest. If you can't bring yourself to skip a workout then at least change the exercise that led to the buildup for a few days (cycling is a good recovery exercise). A massage can help if you can tolerate it as it will be painful due to the lactic acid but this can help flush the muscles but you will need to hydrate well before an after the massage as you may be light headed afterwards. Swimming in cool pool, stream or lake is great for recovery and getting rid of lactic acid also (and much easier to tolerate than massage at this point). Taking ibuprofen for a few days at 400 to 600mg three times a day with food can do wonders also. This helps with pain and inflammation.

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