Worried About Rhabdomyolysis?

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“There’s a good article on exercise on page 7 in the paper that might be good for your research,” my boss texted me. My interest piqued, I whipped out the paper. What I found, in the syndicated medical advice column, was a question about rhabdomyolysis.

I’d actually read about rhabdomyolysis recently and you may have, too. Or you might be thinking, rhabdomy-what-a-sis? Here’s what you need to know.

In short, which is a funny thing to say about a word so long, Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that can develop after someone engages in a high intensity workout. Essentially, your muscles give up, breaking down and releasing protein into your bloodstream. This is serious, as it can cause your kidneys to fail and you can even die.

Rhabdomyolysis has mostly been mentioned in articles in conjunction with indoor cycling, but any high intensity exercise—like, Crossfit, for example—can cause it. It usually happens when people who are not used to high intensity exercise go from zero to full throttle.

So how can you avoid it? First of all, know that it’s very uncommon. Very few cases have been reported. That’s doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of the woods, though. It’s always smart to exercise smart.

To that end, if you want to try spinning or any activity that can get intense, try a beginner’s class first. Make sure you get plenty of water, as well. Dehydration can cause other negative effects besides rhabdomyolysis.

Whatever exercise you choose, if you’re just starting out, don’t give in to peer pressure to get intense. If you’re in a class with an instructor, remember that they’re in charge only of the class. They don’t dictate your body. So let them know you’re a beginner and go at your own pace. Stay safe by staying smart, even if that means you go slower.

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