We recently sat down with Adam Mills of Source Endurance to dissect the science behind sodium bicarbonate and how Topical Edge works to buffer lactic acid. Source Endurance coaching offers performance testing and utilizes cutting edge research for endurance sports including all cycling disciplines, multi-sport and more.
Can you describe the basic process of lactic acid production in the muscles during vigorous activity (cycling, running, etc.)?
Muscle acidosis, along with nervous fatigue combine to provide a very powerful negative feedback loop which hinders muscle contractibility. The “burn” you feel in a muscle is the result of elevated acidity, which hinders fiber contraction and impairs metabolic enzymes. Many studies support the theory that buffering the acid with specific training and something simple like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) diminishes the negative feedback loop and increases performance. It makes sense that if you can buffer the acid with specific training and something simple like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), that negative feedback loop diminishes and performance will increase. Actually, there’s lots of studies out there to support this theory.
Do you believe sodium bicarbonate delivered in a topical form can be effective? Why?
Historically… absolutely not! The skin does a fantastic job of keeping things out of the body by forming a protective barrier and is probably why we’ve come to evolve such a great organ! The key innovation of Topical EDGE is it’s unique ability to cross this barrier. They’ve found a way around the gastro-intestinal system and can deliver sodium bicarbonate directly to the blood and affected muscle via the skin. Previously, studies with sodium bicarbonate have involved consuming it. Sounds great and all, except ingesting an effective dose usually results in a horribly upset stomach and frequent trips to the bathroom.
Why do think this delivery method hasn't been tried before?
it’s incredibly difficult to transport anything across the skin. For the first time, Topical Edge has refined an effective delivery system.
Have any of your clients had an experience with Topical Edge that could be relatable to the consumer?
Of course! We’ve had a few clients that have taken advantage of the free sample and they all, anecdotally, report having better rides and better recovery.
How do you normally use Topical Edge?
I’ve had the luxury of working directly with the people behind Topical Edge so I haven’t really had to experiment too much. It’s easy. Put it on 30-45 minutes before you hit it. Then HIT IT!
How can athletes get the most out of Topical Edge?
The two best practical applications for Topical Edge are hard workouts and recovery. First, think about how it works. It’s an acid buffer. That means it’ll help themost when you’re training the hardest. An athlete really needs to produce muscle acidosis (lactic acid) at an unsustainable intensity before something like this will be at its best. Do some high intensity racing like cyclocross, criterium or short track events and you’ll know it’s there. Also, any of workouts with repeated efforts above 100% of anaerobic threshold (LT2) are extreme enough too.
For reference, you see a blood lactate curve image with respect to exercise workload. Generally speaking, anything with Lactate Threshold (LT) of <2.0 (LT1) and you’re not really generating any more acidosis than at rest. Certainly not enough to cause fatigue. Once you’re above 2.0mmol/L, that’s when fatigue starts, but you’re still not in the realm where fatigue rapidly accumulates. That comes at the 4.0mmol/L and above. At that level you’re generating lots of lactic acid, it’s very intense and it’s not really a sustainable output. That’s where you use Topical Edge.
As a caveat here…if you don’t know where these numbers are for you, or their corresponding training zones, consult a professional coach with formal training in exercise physiology. LT1 and LT2 track differently and uniquely among athletes. What you think is “hard” may not be from a metabolic standpoint.
The other practical application is to use Topical Edge for recovery purposes. That’s as simple as reapplying it after you've cleaned up following your workout. It helps to reduce soreness from that brutally intense workout you just did and get you back on the road for another round the next day.
This product is phenomenal! Truly is a game changer. Used it recently for my 12+ Hour Spartan Endurance Race that required me running over 30 miles, climbing up mountains, and doing over 65 obstacle courses. Amp Human was critical in me finishing this race! Will continue using it and telling others about it
I am consistently surprised by how well this stuff works. I use it for all my long rides and am much less sore the following day than I expect to be.
I used this for the first time during a half marathon and absolutely loved it! I had almost no pain in my legs, WAY less than normal, and I was able to run longer because of it. Highly recommend this!
I’ve been so happy with PR Lotion. I can push through hard intervals and race with confidence that I do t have to overreach and burn out early. There are plenty other products that make claims, but PR Lotion has the research and results.
I love this stuff. My legs don't cramp, they aren't sore afterwards, and it's become a pivotal part of my pre-race routine.
I have been using the lotion mainly for my lactic threshold sessions. I get through the workouts with less pain and find that I am able to recover for the next day. The biggest plus is not feeling so much of the burning sensation in my hamstrings as much after high intensity interval runs.
The first two times I used PR lotion, I won two UCI cyclocross races! Of course, it's become a staple part of my training and racing routine since then. Recently, I competed in 4 events at Sea Otter in 3 days - using PR lotion before and after each one. I won the final event and was amazed how well my legs held up for all of the efforts.