lactic acid in the blood

Unveiling the role of blood: Impacts on freediver physiology

Freediving is a sport that requires not only exceptional physical skills but also a deep understanding of the physiological processes that occur in the blood during a dive. One of the key processes is the formation lactic acid in the blood, or more precisely, its increase, which has a significant impact on the body of a freediver.

What is blood lactate and what role does it play in freediving?

During deep dives, freedivers often encounter anaerobic conditions, where the body switches to energy production without oxygen. In these conditions, there is an increase in lactate in muscle cells. This intermediate product is formed as a result of glycolysis when glucose is broken down to release energy. Under normal conditions, it is further converted in the liver with the involvement of oxygen, but during breath-hold, this pathway is limited, and its concentration, as well as the level of lactic acid in the blood stream, increases.

What is the difference between lactate and lactic acid?

Although these substances are related, they differ in their structure. Lactic acid is a chemical compound that forms in muscles during intense work when the body lacks oxygen for complete glucose oxidation. However, it quickly loses a hydrogen ion and turns into lactate under normal blood pH, which is close to neutral. Therefore, in tissues, it is mainly the reason of buildup lactate, not lactic acid in blood stream.

It performs important functions and can serve as an energy source for cells, especially in conditions of oxygen deficiency, can be transported to the liver, where it is converted back into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. This helps replenish energy reserves after physical exertion.

An increase in its level in the blood can be an indicator of several conditions, including intense physical exercise, oxygen deficiency in tissues, and various pathological conditions. In medical practice, measuring its concentration helps assess the severity and predict the outcome of certain diseases, such as sepsis or heart failure.

Thus, although lactate and lactic acid are closely related, in the context of physiology and medicine, it is more often about the former, which plays a key role in metabolic processes. During intense exercise, the muscles convert pyruvate into lactate, which can then be further metabolized into lactic acid if oxygen levels are low.

Why does blood lactate increase during exercise?

The increase in its level during freediving causes a number of physiological reactions; it serves as an important energy source for many tissues, including the brain and heart. However, the associated increase in hydrogen ion concentration can lead to the activation of the body's protective mechanisms, which affects the functioning of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Adaptation of the body to lactate levels

For successful freediving training, it is necessary to cope well with its high level. Over time, regular training promotes adaptation of the body, improving the ability to process this metabolite and reducing its negative impact. Freedivers learn to manage their breathing and muscle tension, which allows reducing its production and accelerating its utilization.

Practical aspects of lactate level management

Managing its concentration in the blood is a key aspect for improving performance and accelerating recovery after dives for freedivers. Here are some practical methods that can help with this:

  • Regulating the intensity of workouts: Alternating between high-intensity workouts and lighter, recuperative sessions helps manage the lactate level and contributes to the body's adaptation.
  • Application of relaxation techniques: Deep relaxation of muscles helps reduce oxygen consumption and, consequently, the reason of production of this metabolite.
  • Performing breathing exercises: Training the respiratory system improves the buildup of CO2 levels in the blood, which can help control the lactate production in muscle cells.
  • Planning dives: Strategic planning of time between dives allows enough time for the recovery of its concentration in the blood.
  • Correct nutrition: Consumption of carbohydrate-rich food before and after dives can help e the lactate level, as carbohydrates serve as an energy source for its utilization.
  • Hydration: Maintaining water balance is important for all aspects of metabolism, as the result including its processing.


Effective management of the concentration of this metabolite in the blood represents a task that requires considering numerous variables. Thus, physical training should be aimed not only at improving general endurance but also at training muscles to work efficiently in conditions of oxygen deficit.

Training planning includes not only regular exercises to develop the respiratory system and increase breath-hold time but also adequate alternation of loads and rest, which allows avoiding the accumulation of fatigue and maintaining balance in the body's recovery.

Nutrition also plays a key role, as a properly balanced diet, rich in macro- and microelements, provides the necessary resources for energy exchange and helps speed up recovery processes.

In addition, adequate rest and sleep are fundamental components for optimizing metabolic processes and reducing the load on the body.

All these factors collectively contribute to improving sports results and minimizing risks associated with increased levels of lactic acid in the muscles and blood, which is especially relevant in such an extreme sport as freediving.

Read also
© 2023 Apnetica
Sharm el Sheikh
Working hours: 9:00-17:00