European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 11, pp 2429–2434 | Cite as

Elevated arterial lactate delays recovery of intracellular muscle pH after exercise

  • Stefanos VolianitisEmail author
  • N. H. Secher
  • Bjørn QuistorffEmail author
Original Article



We evaluated muscle proton elimination following similar exercise in the same muscle group following two exercise modalities.


Seven rowers performed handgrip or rowing exercise for ~ 5 min. The intracellular response of the wrist flexor muscles was evaluated by 31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, while arterial and venous forearm blood was collected.


Rowing and handgrip reduced intracellular pH to 6.3 ± 0.2 and 6.5 ± 0.1, arterial pH to 7.09 ± 0.03 and 7.40 ± 0.03 and venous pH to 6.95 ± 0.06 and 7.20 ± 0.04 (P < 0.05), respectively. Arterial and venous lactate increased to 17.5 ± 1.6 and 20.0 ± 1.6 mM after rowing while only to 2.6 ± 0.8 and 6.8 ± 0.8 mM after handgrip exercise. Arterio-venous concentration difference of bicarbonate and phosphocreatine recovery kinetics (T50% rowing 1.5 ± 0.7 min; handgrip 1.4 ± 1.0 min) was similar following the two exercise modalities. Yet, intramuscular pH recovery in the forearm flexor muscles was 3.5-fold slower after rowing than after handgrip exercise (T50% rowing of 2 ± 0.1 vs. 7 ± 0.3 min for handgrip).


Rowing delays intracellular-pH recovery compared with handgrip exercise most likely because rowing, as opposed to handgrip exercise, increases systemic lactate concentration. Thus the intra-to-extra-cellular lactate gradient is small after rowing. Since this lactate gradient is the main driving force for intracellular lactate removal in muscle and, since pHi normalization is closely related to intracellular lactate removal, rowing results in a slower pHi recovery compared to handgrip exercise.


Muscle pH 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31PMRS) Rowing Handgrip 



Analysis of variance


Intracellular pH


Phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy




Maximal voluntary contraction



We thank Ib Terkelsen and Frederik Secher for valuable assistance during data collection.

Author contributions

BQ contributed the hypothesis of the study. All authors contributed to the design of the study, collection, assembly and interpretation of data. All authors contributed to manuscript writing and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Copenhagen and Ethical Committee of Copenhagen (H-3-2011-097) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Science and TechnologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Department of AnaesthesiaRigshospitaletCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre, Department of Biomedical Sciences, The Faculty of Health and Medical SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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