What Is Rhabdomyolysis?

May 01, 2017

Factors contributing to Rhabdomyolysis: Rhabdomyolysis involves the death of cells. Simply put, when muscle tissue is damaged under duress, it releases the protein myoglobin, a protein that stores oxygen in the muscles into the bloodstream. High levels of myoglobin as in the case of cell “death” can damage kidney cells and cause renal failure. Most people suffering from “rhabdo” have dark red cola colored urine, which is an indicator of myoglobin in the blood.  Muscle weakness, fatigue, difficulty moving limbs and significant bruising are all symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis.

Rhabdomyolysis is not a new syndrome and there are many causes of this potentially fatal condition, including drug or alcohol induced dehydration, crush injuries caused by accidents and extreme muscle strain.

Most recently “rhabdo” has made headlines in connection with popular high-intensity workout regimens in which participants jump, climb and power-lift their way to the brink of their abilities, fitness level and according to critics, dangerously beyond.

Intense exercise can have a slew of benefits when performed correctly, in the right sequence and with the prudent volume. However, improper training and inadequate nutrition can lead to overtraining, injury, illness, hospitalization and even death.  General exercisers and athletes alike must learn how to protect themselves from Rhabdomyolysis or even general malnutrition and dehydration.

How to prevent it: Adequate nutrition and hydration are the building blocks of an effective workout.  Drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after a strenuous workout helps flush any myoglobin released from the muscles out of the kidneys as does replenishing usable muscle energy through consumption of carbohydrates and proteins before and after the strenuous workout.   

It is important to note that light cell damage is necessary in order to become stronger and fitter, by way of muscle tissue change.  However, there is a vast difference between mild tears in muscle fibers (damage) and the death of the cell and subsequent necrotic cell by- products (myoglobin referenced above) overcoming the kidneys as in the case of Rhabdomyolysis.

**I actually had a friend that was hospitalized for about 2 weeks from this condition and near death at one point as a result of his high intensity workout regime and the rhabdomyolysis that resulted. He was what I would consider a general exerciser who went too hard for too long and paid the price.  –A. Walker- EAY Branch Director

While although it is relatively rare that a person can volitionally exert themselves physically to the point where the onset of Rhabdomyolysis sets in, it is possible, particularly in certain contexts.

If you have any questions on Rhabdomyolysis or any other wellness related questions, please feel free to reach out to Penny Matel or any other of our nationally certified wellness team and they would be happy to assist.

Below are some links to interesting stories and related articles pertaining to Rhabdomyolysis (there are some links with in the links taking you to other articles as well-enjoyJ: