Lactic acid is produced during the lactic anaerobic metabolism and it is almost entirely in its dissociated form (lactate). As a result, lactate is the dissociated form of lactic acid and its concentration in blood reflects the difference between training through lactic anaerobic metabolism and oxidation or clearance.

Therefore, increased lactate is bound to an excess of production or to a shortage of usage or clearance. Usually the increase in the formation of lactic is related to one or more of the following processes:

  • An increase in exercise intensity, where the energy required cannot be supplied mainly by means of aerobic energy formation.
  • A relative deficit of oxygen, which may happen because we are in a hypoxic environment (such as altitude), or because there are circulatory problems leading to tissue hypoxia.
  • Limitation of enzyme activity, mainly of the pyruvate dehydrogenaseAn increase in circulating catecholamines, resulting in a significant stimulation of anaerobic glycolysis, and thus the formation of lactate.Un aumento de la intensidad de ejercicio, donde la energía necesaria para realizarlo no puede ser suministrada mayoritariamente por las vías de formación de energía aeróbicas.

Due to the different mechanisms which may be involved in the production and clearance of lactate, the blood lactate concentration is used both in the field of sport and in clinical practice. The use of portable analyzers is providing fast and reliable results, besides simplicity and ease of handling, which is increasing its use:

In the sports field, because it is a reflection of the intensity of exercise and hence of the metabolism primarily involved in energy formation. It allows us to know the aerobic-anaerobic transition, the lactate threshold, the anaerobic threshold… The lactate threshold represents the single parameter which has a greater connection with the efficiency in endurance sports. Likewise, knowing the relation between lactate concentration and heart rate or power or speed, we can obtain data with which we can specify training intensities. As a result, the awareness of the relationship between Exercise Intensity – Blood Lactate, allows us to evaluate and verify the evolution of physical performance in certain sports and also obtain objective data with which to schedule training intensities
In clinical practice it is associated with tissue hypoperfusion and the relative lack of oxygen, being a prognostic value in emergency situations such as shock, sepsis…