Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy body.
Staying physically fit is key to maintaining a healthy weight at all times of the year.
It helps your body work more efficiently on all levels, even your metabolism itself. It’s an important part of staying healthy!
But as important as exercise is to your health, you need to look out for one big problem that can emerge when people try to get into shape far too quickly.
Rhabdomyolysis: An Unspoken Risk of Frequent Exercise
You may not have heard of rhabdomyolysis, which isn’t a big surprise. It’s a relatively rare condition though exact numbers of the number of people who develop rhabdomyolysis are surprisingly hard to find. This might be because few people want to report this condition.
A few years ago, my sister fell victim to rhabdomyolysis and was hospitalized. It was serious and scary.
She had a 30-minute workout session with a personal trainer and it put her into the hospital. She is 5’2″ and was 125 pounds, not at all overweight.
But it had been awhile since she had been in the gym, and the workout delivered to her was just too much for her body to handle.
A Potentially Serious Condition — What Is Rhabdomyolysis?
So just what is Rhabdomyolysis? According to MedicineNet.com,
Rhabdomyolysis (RAB-DOE-MY-O-LIE-SIS) is the rapid destruction of skeletal muscle resulting in leakage into the urine of the muscle protein myoglobin. Serious cases can be life threatening!
There are three different types of muscle in the human body;
- smooth muscle,
- skeletal muscle, and
- heart muscle.
The skeletal muscle is the muscle of movement of the body (moving the skeleton at the joints). Skeletal muscle is affected by rhabdomyolysis.
Myoglobin is a protein component of the muscle cells that is released into the blood when the skeletal muscle is destroyed in rhabdomyolysis. Creatine kinase is an enzyme (a protein that facilitates chemical reactions in the body) also in the muscle cells. The level of each of these proteins can be measured in blood to monitor the degree of muscle injury from rhabdomyolysis. (source)
The scary part is when your body tries to repair itself by way of kidney cells. The cells sent by the kidney to fix the damage can do more damage than good… and can end up damaging the muscles even more, sometimes for good.
Signs of Rhabdomyolysis
As this article states, not every pain you have when you work out is a cause for concern. Sometimes you’re just building muscle! But you should look out for these basic signs of rhabdomyolysis:
- Body soreness after working out
- Pain in the abdomen
- Feeling nausea
- Swollen arms (if the exercise involved your arms)
- Brown urine (by this time, it’s progressed to a scary level!)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider seeking out medical attention.
If your arms are swollen or your urine has changed color, don’t wait, seek medical attention immediately!
How to Prevent Rhabdomyolysis When You Exercise
First of all, don’t let this sway you away from exercising entirely. Exercise is a healthy part of living a full life, and leads to a healthier body overall.
If you are just starting with exercise, take it slowly. The all-or-nothing mentality can damage your body permanently and it can take years to recover from such an injury, so take it slow!
The most impactful way to prevent rhabdomyolysis is to listen to your body whenever you have a pain that doesn’t feel right.
Listen To Your Bodies Language!
Lots of the basic tenants of healthy exercise also act as ways of preventing rhabdomyolysis. Stretching is an important element to any exercise routine and this is often left out. Stretch, it is important! Here is my all time favorite stretching/yoga program!
Stay hydrated, tend to yourself if you feel too hot or too cold, and watch for any inflammation.
Bottom line — Listen to what your body needs, and you can’t go wrong!
More than once as a young adult, I went to personal trainers like that, all or nothing, to get in shape. I did not get this particular disease, but was rendered sick for WEEKS. Strep throat, fevers, etc. Of course then I could not work out at all! I finally learned to stop doing that and took training at a better pace and am now able to do all kinds of different work-outs and do my best to stay on a schedule of several times a week, including lots of stretching!
Halle Cottis says
I’ve been there too in my early adulthood. I am so glad you found a sensible plan that works for you!
Thanks for sharing this very informative article. I am starting to be health conscious now, I am starting to eat healthy and workout everyday.