Baking soda -- or sodium bicarbonate -- is traditionally uses for baking, cleaning and reducing household smells. But not everyone is aware of how baking soda can reduce muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is a result of lactic acid buildup and the overall damage to the muscle fibers. While several expensive supplements are available that claim to reduce, or even eliminate, muscle soreness, you can use baking soda for muscle soreness.
During physical activity, the body produces lactic acid that raises the acidity level within the muscles and blood vessels. Baking soda, when mixed with water, creates an alkaline solution that helps to buffer the acidity level within the blood and muscles. As a result, the lactic acid is drawn out of the muscle cells, causing the acid-base balance, or pH level, of the muscles and blood to return to equilibrium. Also, taking baking soda before and during physical activity can help to prolong lactic acid buildup.
Not everyone should use baking soda for muscle soreness. Runners, including sprinters and endurance athletes, have used baking soda as a lactic acid buffer for decades. Other athletes who may consider using baking soda includes swimmers, rowers and triathletes. Despite the numerous benefits for muscle soreness, there is still the potential for several negative side effects. Always consult a doctor before using baking soda for muscle soreness.
By reducing muscle soreness with baking soda, your overall performance can improve. The general recommended intake is about 200 to 300 mg per kilogram of body weight mixed with 1 l of water. For example, a 200-lb. athlete takes about 18 to 27 g of baking soda. Athletes who take about 200 mg per kilogram of body weight see a 42-percent improved time until exhaustion. This increased time allows you to maximize the amount of time spent using high intensity levels.
Athletes are routinely monitored and checked for various illegal substances. As of 2011, baking soda isn't banned by major organizations such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB or NCAA, but these regulations are subject to change. Always check with the governing body regarding doping regulations. Even though baking soda might be legal in your sport, there are several potentially harmful side effects. These side effects include pain, cramping, diarrhea and bloating.
- Doctor of Fitness; Q & A - Using Bicarbonate To Buffer Lactic Acid In Athletes; Lee Mancini
- Brian Mac Sports Coach; Lactic Acid; Brian Mackenzie
- The Sunday Times; Is Bicarbonate of Soda a Performance-Enhancing Drug?; Peta Bee; August 2008
- MayoClinic.com; Sodium Bicarbonate; Mayo Clinic Staff; May 2011