PT on the Net Research

Lactic Acid


I have a PT client who is a tennis coach. He is quite fit, but when training him intensely (i.e., interval training or circuits), he complains of severe burning in his thighs. I put this down to lactic acid build up, but its onset is very quick for someone of reasonable fitness (30 seconds), and he says that he has suffered from this for years. Once the exercise intensity drops, his thighs recover. Also, as a side effect of his tennis playing, he is very tight in his hamstrings and adductors. Is the burning in his quads due to lactic acid, and if so, what can he do to minimize its negative effects?


Thanks for your question! Seeing as your client is a tennis coach (not a beginner to exercise) and as you stated has a reasonable level of fitness, my first thought is to assess for restricted structures throughout the lower extremity that could cause early fatigue. There is a good chance the warm-up, recovery/regeneration portion of his program is not specific enough or is non-existent. With all of our athletes/clients, the SPECIFIC warm-up and cool down is strongly emphasized. A specific warm-up should include all the movements he is about to participate in when playing tennis. In addition, your client may need to see a soft tissue therapist to release soft tissue restrictions. A common example of your client’s problem exists when venous and lymphatic drainages are congested. These regions are the most susceptible because they are low-pressure systems (takes less pressure to block them). Remember, fluid is moved along by muscle contraction and movement. If a muscle is allowed to heal with excessive tension due to scarring, this can easily cause a constant pressure to be applied to the underlying lymphatic vessel (i.e., adductor tightness and/or strain blocking the hiatus of the adductor). To contact a therapist skilled in this type of work, please see and look for a practitioner in your area - this could also help your business as many therapist do not know what you know and therefore will send you clients.  


Assess for restrictions in the lower extremity followed by designing a specific warm-up that relates to the exact movements your client intends to perform. If immediate results do not occur, refer him to see a soft tissue specialist.