“Every single thing has a balance and the moment we overdo that balance something has to give and we are punished by fate in one way or another”
I first heard about rhabdomyolysis in an article about the dangers of CrossFit workouts. Exertional Rhabdomyolysis— “sometimes called exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis — is one of many types of rhabdomyolysis that can occur, and because of this, the exact prevalence and incidence are unclear.”
The Mayo Clinic reports other types of rhabdomyolysis occur from trauma to the muscles due to automobile accidents, snake bites, drugs, alcohol, and performance-enhancing supplements.
During extreme exercise exertion, a breakdown of muscle can result in the myoglobin(contents of the muscle cells) leaking into the bloodstream; this can lead to kidney failure and possibly death. Exertional Rhabdomyolysis is often associated with dehydration, overheating of the body such as exercising in high temperatures, and heatstroke.
Although rhabdomyolysis is considered a rare occurrence, I’ve known two people who have been hospitalized with it related to their participation in CrossFit workouts. Exertional Rhabdomyolysis can occur with any kind of extreme conditioning program such as CrossFit, boot camp classes, military or football training. Other program examples could include, high reps of one single muscle group in a short period of time AMRAP (as many reps as possible), or high reps that focus on the “eccentric” part of the exercise, and also prolonged exercise without recovery.
Some Common Symptoms include:
- Extreme muscle pain
- swelling of the muscle
- extreme weakness
- dark colored urine
“Generally, this syndrome is brought on by the performance of unaccustomed, excessive, repetitive exercises such as push-ups and squat-jumps. Rhabdomyolysis can also occur after strenuous recreational activities such as marathon running, hiking, or performance of excessive strenuous exercise during the first days of a new training program. Mild cases of rhabdomyolysis do not require hospitalization, and individuals recover within one week. However, in certain individuals, rhabdomyolysis can be severe. The combination of heat stress and rhabdomyolysis can produce acute renal failure, which, in rare instances, can result in death. The few individuals who have developed severe rhabdomyolysis generally have never shown any prior symptoms. These individuals may have a latent, sub-clinical muscle disorder that predisposes them to the most negative consequences of rhabdomyolysis. For strenuous exercise in the heat, precautions such as adequate fluid intake and acclimatization are critical. All exercise training programs should start with mild to moderately intense exercise and should progress gradually. These safeguards will not only prevent subsequent muscle pain and optimize performance, but they may also save lives.”
Therefore, remember to exercise caution when participating in advanced training methods. Evaluate the instructor’s qualifications and the appropriateness of the workout for your particular fitness level. Make sure the instructor is certified and understands program design; one that includes the entire body rather than one specific muscle group. Additionally, always make sure to consistently hydrate before, during and after exercise.
And above all- LISTEN TO YOUR BODY; always use common sense when performing intense exercise programs and allow for appropriate recovery.