Lactic acid is also the most common acidic ingredient of fermented milk items. It is used for tanning leather, dying wool, as a food preservative (by lowering pH), and for flavoring foods such as: It can be found in plant material, blood, muscle, and in soil. Special types of bacteria are used to create lactic acid when they are fed carbohydrates.

structural formula for lactic acid:

    H   H
     \ /
 H -- C        O -- H
       \      /
        C -- C == O
       / \    
 H -- O   H

In sports it is a good idea to try to reduce the lactic acid build up in your muscles. Lactic acid causes your muscles to get tired and eventualy leads to pain.

In swimming, lactic acid also cause the body to use more blood (actualy the oxygen in it), and this makes it so that the swimmer can not hold his breath as long. So to avoid such strain on the body, there are ways to reduce the amount of lactic acid built up in your muscles.
  • Don't go all out! Too much kicking and pulling will wear you out too fast. Pace yourself!
  • Keep your line! This might be very new to many swimmers, but you hafto align spine. This reduces resistance in the water, but everything must be in line even your neck! This also gives you more power by aligning you body's structure.
  • Rail! Swim rotating side to side (but keeping your line), reaching from your side gives you a longer stroke and more power in the rotation.
  • Keep some tension in your body! Having tension allows your body to navigate through the water easier by making sure you power is put where you want it. If you are too loose you will "wiggle" in the water instead of keeping a firm path.
  • Streamline with body dolphins (full body kicks starting in shoulders while in your line) while in our level of least resistance (see foot).
  • PRACTICE!!! If you don't know what you're doing, or have any endurance you won't get very far.

*you can find this level in the water by pushing of the wall strait. Feel the tensions of the water wprking on you body. Once you found your right level you should feel almost none of these tensions. Your level should be between 12 and 18 inches depending on your height

Lactic acid is, to some extent, the carbon monoxide of the internal combustion engine that is our muscles.

Allow me to clarify. When your muscles are burning working efficiently, there is plenty of oxygen getting to your muscles. This allows your body to make energy efficiently. This is generally referred to as aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise can be maintained for a long time, but doesn't produce a large amount of energy. Examples of aerobic exercise include distance running, biking, or any other activity where the people who are doing it don't look like they are huffing and puffing. If they are, then it is another case altogether.

When the body works harder than it usually does, or needs more energy, it is called anaerobic exercise. In this case, the body is not getting enough oxygen to burn its fuel efficiently, and thus, a waste product is made. This waste product is lactic acid. And it is not fun. Lactic acid is what makes your legs feel like they are about to fall off after running repeats. It's also what makes it hard to wash your arms in the shower after lifting weights.

In a car's engine, if combustion occurs with limited supplies of oxygen, or if the oxygen simply doesn't circulate enough, the product will be carbon monoxide, not carbon dioxide. In your muscles, if they don't get enough oxygen from the bloodstream, and the energy demanded is great enough, lactic acid is produced as a byproduct.

So, in conclusion, lactic acid is the product of an overworked body. Sometimes this is the desired effect, sometimes it isn't. But whether you want it or not, it hurts.

Disclaimer: of course this analogy isn't perfect, but it does give the basic idea of why lactic acid forms. And of course, lactic acid and carbon monoxide are both hurtful, to some extent.

6-1-02: WolfKeeper says Re: lactic acid is also a fuel your body can burn. If you do lots of anaerobic followed by aerobic, your muscles burn it. In fact you can train this up.

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