Whenever we exercise, lactic acid accumulates in the muscle. Lactic acid is a breakdown product of muscle metabolism. This contributes to the muscles being sore the next day. Accumulated lactic acid can also cause cramps and spasms. Competitive athletes are instructed to elevate their legs after intense training or competition in order to rid their muscles of lactic acid. In addition, the muscle compartments swell after exercise as fluid and nutrients rush to the cells to try to repair the damage. This swelling also contributes to muscle soreness. Elevation gets rid of the accumulated lactic acid and reduces the swelling in order to prevent muscle soreness.
Muscle Recovery/Sports Performance:
Serious athletes play hard on game day and do significant damage to their muscles. However, our body has some amazing capabilities and our muscles respond by repairing the damage and becoming even stronger. The same principle applies to intense training. We push the muscles to the limit so that they will gradually become stronger over time. We injure the muscle so that it builds back stronger.
This type of intense competition and training results in swelling in the muscles. This swelling is actually the accumulation of interstitial fluid, which is the fluid which surrounds all of our cells. Accumulation of this fluid makes it more difficult for oxygen, proteins, and other nutrients to get to the cells which need them to repair the damage that was done. Leg elevation empties, this “cellular bathwater” and allows for more efficient exchange of nutrients so that muscles can recover more quickly and get ready to do battle again tomorrow.
Visit the Leg Elevation Classroom to learn more about the circulation of this critical interstitial fluid which surrounds every cell in our body.