A Lesson in Lactic Acid: Active Recovery with Compex
Virtually every human being has experienced the bodily responses associated with strenuous activity or physical exertion. Heavy breathing and muscle fatigue are not unique to athletes alone, although high-performance individuals certainly experience strain to an exceptionally higher degree. Regardless of intensity, however, the science is the same and a basic biological understanding of how our human bodies respond to physical stress is important to understand how to best recover.
When we perform a physically strenuous activity, our lungs will demand to breathe more rapidly as the body fights to supply the working muscles with oxygen as fuel. The body prefers to generate energy aerobically, or through this exchange of oxygen from our environment into our muscles, but activities of higher intensity will require energy production at a higher rate than what we can deliver through oxygen intake alone. When the body cannot deliver energy through oxygen alone, the body will use what is called pyruvate, a breakdown substance of glucose (blood sugar), and convert it to lactate to be used by the body which in turn is converted back to glucose again. This is called the anaerobic process, or the Cori cycle. This type of activity is limited, however, and this type of energy production can generally only last for seconds to a few minutes, during which time lactate will accumulate to high levels. But what does that matter?
High levels of lactate in the body will increase the acidity of muscle cells and create an environment that inhibits the breakdown of glucose, the very activity that lactase itself makes possible. Although this may seem counterintuitive, it is a defense mechanism of the body to prevent extreme damage through high levels of intensity in physical activity.
This build up of lactic acidity is commonly referred to as a muscle “pump” and is the burning sensation associated with high repetition or high intensity activity. When the pain or discomfort of this physical response finally causes us to stop, the body will enter a state of recovery in which it will clear the lactate build up and restore the body to a physical state ready for another anaerobic bout.
So how can this knowledge positively impact our training? On one hand, increasing our aerobic conditioning will improve athletic performance by extending our bodies capabilities of using oxygen - an easier, more available and more enduring source for energy production. Training mentality is also important in not always shying away from the “pump” and enduring intense discomfort for longer periods of time. Finally, however, intentional practices of physical recovery to flush out lactate buildup as quickly as possible are incredibly beneficial to a performing athlete in a high-intensity sport, especially if an athlete has consecutive events or training sessions and must recover as quickly as possible.
The Active Recovery program of Compex is designed for exactly the purposes of immediate recovery from these type of physical events. Although the full duration of the program is 24 minutes with electric frequencies that start from high to low, it will effectively flush out lactic buildup in just 6 minutes. Not only does this program clear out lactate, but promotes fresh blood flow to the area to bring in vital nutrients and even oxygen back to the area. For these reasons, this program is best used and most effective immediately post workout or event to maximize recovery in the most minimal amount of time. In competition, this can be a tremendous advantage to the athlete performing back-to-back events so that they are biologically as fresh as possible for the next event.
When it comes to performance, the greatest athletes recognize the vital necessity and incredible benefits of intentional recovery methods. Alongside proper efforts in nutrient timing, hydration and mobility, using electric stimulation with a Compex device provides an edge from off of the competition floor and will help you perform to your greatest physical abilities you may have yet to imagine.