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Cycling injury, recovery and health issues.
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During a post ride coffee, I over heard one of the old sea dogs of road cycling saying that……..if you drink some Ural after a ride/hard ride/race it will cleanse your body of any lactic acid build up, ready for the next day on the bike..ie ready for a race the next day or to be used during a multistage/day race
Has anyone else heard of this?
when do we stop for coffee???
I guess it's possible when you think what Ural actually does but i am not sure it would work the same as lactic acid is not in your digestive system is it? where as if your peeing fire then you down some Ural it neutralises the burn chemically through your digestive system directly, i forget the exact ingredient but i do know it's not a super scientific configuration in the solution.
I am very interested to know the proper answer though.
Your sea dog confuses muscle soreness (a consequence of strenuous exercise) with metabolism (energy production where lactic acid build up can and does occur at certain intensities). Excess of lactic acid is removed naturally by our organism once intensity of the exercise drops, it can't be removed with Ural (whatever that is) or anything else, nor does it need to be. The excess is gone soon after you stop causing it in the first place.
Sodium bicarbonate (an alkaline) is used in an attempt to buffer blood's acidity to delay the onset of fatigue during anaerobic cycle of metabolism. It's taken before the exercise, not after. One thing it gives you is diarrhoea. Not sure about anything else.
Blood pH is controlled quite tightly by endogenous buffering, otherwise you'd end up with metabolic acidosis or alkalosis, both serious conditions.
However, interstitial pH isn't buffered directly. It is theoretically possible to raise its pH faster by raising pH of blood with sodium bicarb, because a steeper concentration gradient is created, which pulls acid out into the blood stream faster.
Sodium bicarbonate has been shown to have a significant effect on improving athletic performance involving anaerobic metabolism. However, the quantity needed is very high, and makes many people sick. i.e. 0.3g/kg bodyweight = 25 grams = around 6 teaspoons for an 85kg person. This usually has to be taken over a half hour duration, before an event, to avoid feeling sick.
However, the latest thinking is muscle soreness is due to small tears in muscle and associated inflammation. Compromised performance can be offset by appropriate electrolyte hydration and nutrient intake, ice baths, anti-inflammatory meds like over the counter diclofenac, and gentle effleurage massage to help clear lymphatics and turnover fluid in muscles. These are all scientifically more valid interventions and used in elite sport.
Performance the next day is more requisite on adequate rest/sleep, normal fluid balance, and replenishing glycogen stores; and not overeating, which most recreational athletes do. Most of us already have enough fat reserves to last over 3000km.
Ural is half sodium bicarbonate.
Here's one study that shows you are incorrect.
Thanks for the reference. I've just had a look at it.
Firstly, it's generally a good idea to beware the statement "here's one study that shows... xyz". With the wonders of confirmation bias, it's generally possible to make any assertion you like (even fairly crazy physiologically nonsensical ones) and voila... you'll find at least one or a handful of published studies that seem to support your case.
Single papers _can_ be seminal and practice-changing, but generally that's only when the study in question involves a _very_ large sample size or study population, and is correctly designed and sufficiently powered to reliably measure the treatment effect or outcome measure you're interested in. It's also good to make sure the study findings are specifically applicable to the conclusions you're trying to draw from it.
Let's have a look at the paper you cited above:
- It's small. n = 9
- It was done in swimmers, not cyclists, and it's the latter that the original poster's question was concerned with.
- The reported positive/favourable finding was that the swimmers who ingested the NaHCO3 swam faster over 200m than those who ingested CaCO3 and those that ingested nothing. However, the data provided do _not_ support this conclusion; the times for each trial +/- the error or standard deviation reported in the abstract overlap. There is no statistically significant difference between the times for the three groups (despite the authors optimistically quoting a p-value of <0.05).
- The post-exercise lactate levels (which is what the original poster's question primarily addressed) were actually _HIGHER_ in the NaHCO3 group, not lower; the raw data is not provided in the abstract, but again the authors report there was a difference, with a p-value <0.05.
I would therefore suggest that your assertion that this paper (which is clearly a bit crap, unfortunately, as they had the right idea) shows that I am incorrect is... well... incorrect, I'm afraid.
This is a nice review article and summary of the use of NaHCO3 and Na-Citrate as performance-enhancing aids:
And here's an article a bit more specific to cycling, reporting that Na-Citrate doesn't improve 40km time trial performance:
And here's one finding it _does_ improve 30km cycling performance:
...as mentioned above... one can find a study to support whichever point of view one prefers...
Some more recent work:
- Bicarb good: n=10; Severely underpowered for the performance effect measured (circa 2%) - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8775569
- Bicarb no good: n = 8; would have had to have been a huge effect to see it - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19952817
- Bicarb no good: n = ?; measuring EMG data, but no change in lactate - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17628824
- Bicarb reduces VO2: n=10; sufficiently powered to detect the 20-30% differences reported - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15514504
...anyway, there are quite a few recent papers exploring various endpoints for induced pre-exercise alkalosis (including [lactate]) and for practical reasons they're all quite small and generally underpowered to detect the small expected differences, especially in performance, as opposed to blood chemistry parameters.
The findings regarding the effect of NaHCO3 on plasma [lactate] are fairly consistent, though: no change, or an increase; but no decrease.
From a purely theoretical / physiologic-common-sense point of view, trying to achieve an artificial compensatory relative alkalaemia (you won't actually create an alkalosis under these circumstances, by the way) is almost certainly an inherently self-defeating proposition, given that a large part of what provides your muscles and cardiopulmonary system with the capability to perform extraordinary feats under maximum demand... is the myriad "bad" physiologic changes and adaptations that occur under such performance stress. These include the modulatory effects of your plasma pH receptors... the vascular tone, capacity and therefore flow rate of blood through the lungs... oxygen uptake and CO2 excretion in the lungs... shifts in the Hb-O2 dissociation curve in the pulmonary circulation and in the end-organ (muscle) tissues which aid O2 delivery under high workload/demand...
Artificially "tricking" the body into thinking it's less acidotic than it is is rarely helpful, either in exercise performance (discussed above) or indeed in critically ill patients. We very _very_ rarely use something like NaHCO3 to attempt to treat/correct acidosis of any cause, as it does not address the underlying pathophysiologic abnormality and indeed can blunt the useful and sometimes necessary homeostatic compensatory mechanisms helping keep the patient alive while we do find and fix (if we can) the underlying pathology.
Will taking Ural assist in reducing or clearing your plasma [lactate] associated with cycling?
Almost certainly not.
Thanks Chris for your consideration.
Here, go to town on the AIS:
Though if you want to stick strictly to answering the OP's question, he was specifically asking whether "post" exercise intake made a diff.
Did any of the references you provide address that?
You blokes are either very keen researchers, or you have too much time on your hands, or both.
Get back out on the bike FFS
They most likely won't since most studies in this area are interested in finding whether an intervention improves performance.
For a pre-event intervention for an improvement in aerobic cycling performance, one might consider something else, such as tribasic sodium phosphate, although gastric distress is quite likely (and it's hard to get).
Clearance of "lactic acid" (blood lactate really) post exercise occurs of its own accord fairly quickly, and is not really something one need be overly concerned with.
The bicarbonate-related studies you gave the link to (thanks... long list!!) are predominantly concerned with the effect of pre-loading with bicarbonate on performance. I haven't really got time to sift through all of them in detail, but I thought I'd take a peek at one of the first ones just to see what was actually done / shown.
"Dose-related effects of prolonged NaHCO3 ingestion during high-intensity exercise." published by Douroudos et al. in 2006
In the summary list, this study is quoted as demonstrating a dose-dependent benefit in performance with pre-exercise bicarbonate loading. I chose this because (a) it was at the top of the list, (b) it has one of the largest study populations (24 athletes) and (c) it is presented as showing a definite dose-dependent benefit.
Firstly, let's look at the magnitude of benefit claimed in the study:
Moderate intake NaHCO3 = 7.36 W/kg vs 6.73 W/kg (control) ; this is a 9.4% improvement.
High intake NaHCO3 = 7.72 vs 6.69 W/kg ; this is a 17.2% improvement.
Unfortunately, with only 8 people in each arm of the study, it is only powered to reliably detect a difference of more than 35%. That is to say, with such a small study population, the improvement would have to be at least ~2.3 W/kg to be more than 95% sure the difference is real and not a statistical fluke (i.e a p-value < 0.05).
And this was giving them the benefit of the doubt.... if you look at their included error / deviation figures, the NaHCO3 and control group measurements completely overlap... i.e. there is effectively no measured difference between the two groups.
The best one can say about these results is that in a very small and underpowered study there is the suggestion of a non-statistically significant trend in the direction of a benefit for NaHCO3 pre-loading.
Objectively, however, this study demonstrates _no_ difference between the NaHCO3 pre-loaded athletes and the controls.
I concede this is an analysis of only one of a fairly long list of papers (though this is touted as one of the better, more favourable ones), however it's an instructive example of why it's important to be able to pull apart a paper and work out for oneself whether it actually shows what the authors, or what other reviewers of it once published, claim or think that it shows.
Unfortunately, publication in a peer-reviewed journal does not guarantee good science or correct statistical interpretation of results, and in an environment of information overload it's all too easy to skim through something, take the conclusion at face value and recycle it as gospel.
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