7316192960_cdb9791a9a_zBy Doyice Cotten

What is Rhabdomyolysis? Regular readers of will know that this is a disease that can result from extreme exercise. The ailment is often found in sedentary adults who attempt to “get in shape” overnight. However, the disease is also found sometimes in more active and younger individuals.

There have been a number of cases in recent years in which college athletes have been afflicted. Courtney Cameron in a recent post cites a number of cases resulting from indoor cycling and spinning classes. She also reports that those in certain active occupation (police and firefighters) have suffered the ailment. “Weekend athletes” are also subject to the disease

But What Is Rhabdomyolysis? explains the disease this way:

Rhabdomyolysis is a serious syndrome due to a direct or indirect muscle injury. It results from the death of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream. This can lead to serious complications such as renal (kidney) failure. This means the kidneys cannot remove waste and concentrated urine. In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis can even cause death. However, prompt treatment often brings a good outcome. Here’s what you need to know about rhabdomyolysis.

The disease can result from many causes, but the cause most relevant to those in sport, recreation, and fitness  activities is “Extreme muscle strain, especially in someone who is an untrained athlete; this can happen in elite athletes, too, and it can be more dangerous if there is more muscle mass to break down.”

So What?

Why is this important and a repeated topic at this website? First, the disease can result in the death of the victim. Second, the surviving victim can be debilitated for as long as a year or more. And Third, most professionals and participants involved in the sport, recreation and fitness industries are not familiar with the problem.


The three most common signs are

  • muscle pain in the shoulders, thighs, and lower back
  • muscle weakness or trouble moving arms and legs
  • dark red or brown urine or decreased urination

But symptoms of rhabdomyolysis may vary and are not always easy to spot. For instance, many victims do not exhibit muscle-related symptoms; further, symptoms may involve the whole body or just selected muscle groups.

What to do:

Coaches, athletic trainers, and personal trainers are among those who should know how to design programs and training to avoid the ailment. The steps are simple.

  1. Go into training/conditioning programs gradually.
  2. Limit the strenuousness of early season drills.
  3. Remember, fitness cannot be achieved overnight.

If symptoms occur, get the party to a physician or hospital immediately

Photo Credit: Thanks to Energy Health Clubs on Flickr.