Beating the Lactic Acid Pump

After lowering off a very pumpy climb, can I speed my recovery by running or doing pushups? I heard that light aerobic exercise immediately following a climb helps flush lactic acid out of the forearms by pumping blood through the body.

By Rock and Ice | October 20th, 2009

After lowering off a very pumpy climb, can I speed my recovery by running or doing pushups? I heard that light aerobic exercise immediately following a climb helps flush lactic acid out of the forearms by pumping blood through the body. I guess the lactic acid dilutes, and spreads to the larger muscle groups so that it is more easily broken down. If this is true, should I run after doing a hard enduro pitch, and if so, for how long?

—Jack Rhodes, Somers, NY

You are pretty much right about the theory here, but go easy. A strenuous bout of exercise is far from conducive to recovery, and two or three minutes of light jogging will more than suffice. Pushups seem too much like hard work and instead I would suggest shoulder circles and finger clenches. The best thing is a very easy route because it gently stimulates the target muscle groups and encourages local blood flow to flush lactate. It also stops you from stiffening up and losing recruitment during longer rest stints. An example of the right grade would be a 5.10 if you are climbing in the 5.12s or a 5.7 if you climb in the 5.10s. Forearm stretches are very worthwhile during rests (do both sides: flexors by bending your hand back and extensors by bending it forward or twisting it). A final tip is to take a forearm massage if there’s one on offer — but don’t hold your breath!

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