Rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo, for short), from what I understand, isn’t commonly discussed during the course of a personal trainer’s studies. However, it’s very important to understand this condition considering that it can turn deadly and is often misunderstood for extreme muscle soreness that many may think is normal after a workout. But it isn’t normal, and what is often mistaken for sudden hypertrophy is actually swelling of the muscles.
Rhabdomyolysis basically means muscle tissue death. Muscle tissue dies, and it isn’t something you can gain back. What happens when the muscle fibers die is that the toxins are then released into the bloodstream, which can lead to complications, like kidney failure. Some people are lucky enough to recover from it without going to the ER; others must go to the ER or risk permanent damage or even death.
People most susceptible to rhabdo are those who are deconditioned and start a vigorous-intensity exercise program. HIIT and crossfit are two programs that should not be started by beginners. Yet, even fit people are susceptible to it, particularly if they push themselves beyond what they are currently capable of.
There are currently not very many statistics of exercise-induced rhabdo, so it’s hard to say how common it is. What can be said is that it isn’t as uncommon as many may think. In fact, just read the comments on Joe Cannon’s article to find out how common it may actually be–and read the article itself, of course.
For both personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts alike, I HIGHLY recommend that you read Joe Cannon’s Rhabdo: The Scary Side Effect of Exercise You’ve Never Heard Of.
The great thing about this e-book is that it’s short and right to the point. In fact, this is the book where I primarily received all of my knowledge from rhabdomyolysis from. I didn’t learn about this from when I was studying to be certified as a personal trainer.
Joe Cannon goes into detail about rhabdo so that way both personal trainers and exercisers alike can know what to do to try and prevent rhabdo. He even uses an example of someone who developed rhabdo, just from doing sit-ups every day.
I highly recommend this book, particularly in this want-it-now culture, with beginners forcing themselves through bootcamps and HIIT sessions. In fact, I took a core conditioning class at college a few years ago and now look on it with complete horror. The professor told us if we couldn’t do it, we shouldn’t force ourselves too, but there was no mention of rhabdo or anything. We were using the Insanity program as well.
Rhabdomyolysis is something that EVERYONE needs to know about, from coaches to personal trainers to athletes to fitness enthusiasts to PE teachers and professors of kinesiology and exercise science and whatever else.
Don’t push your body past what it can’t do.