For those of you who perform CrossFit, the term Rhabdo is surely familiar. You may have learnt about Rhabdo while earning your CrossFit Level One Certification such as I did or you may have experienced it first hand in yourself or your fellow CrossFit buddy. Rhabdomyolysis is rare but real and can be quite serious. The definition of Rhabdomyolysis is stated as a serious syndrome that is 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 kidney failure. This means the kidneys cannot remove waste and concentrated urine. In rare cases, Rhabdo can even cause death! Prompt treatment often brings a good outcome. Being aware of Rhabdo enables us to take a preventative approach. I have often wondered if all the " RIGHT CONDITIONS" can bring this syndrome on in even the best conditioned athletes. Meaning, temperature, food, air quality, dehydration certain mix of exercise, lack of rest or what ever is the perfect mix, Just a thought I have had many times. Well while I was doing my research for this article, I stumbled across the perfect mix which actually causes the severest cases. Deconditioned persons excessively training while dehydrated in heat stress with poor nutrition and not acclimated in their climate. It is not just CrossFit athletes, trust me, it is a whole range of athletes from spinning to marathon runners. There are over a 100 different triggers and many times the kidneys are not even adversely effected. Again if treated rapidly, a great onset of recovery is generally the run down
So what is the history of this syndrome ? It is to my understanding that the oldest recollections of Rhabdo go all the way back to the Old Testament Bible. The book of the bible that describes Rhabdo is in Numbers. The Jews while leaving Egypt had eaten large amounts of quail which caused a plague in the people. The quails apparently had eaten poisonous hemlock which caused Rhabdo in the Jews. Later doctors published research involved with crush syndrome and its correlation with acute kidney failure. Today we know that Rhabdo is major onset of acute kidney failure as mentioned above and can happen to many different types of athletes or people.
The symptoms that impact about 25,000 people per year in the US are vomiting, confusion, weakness, swelling, nausea, peeing brown or cola/tea colored urine, muscle pain in the limbs, fever, irregular heartbeat, bruising/muscle tenderness, agitation, decreased or completely absent urine production. If you suspect you have Rhabdo, seeing a doctor sooner than later is a good idea. The treatment is usually large amounts of IV fluids, dialysis possibly, sodium bicarbonate and mannitol are usually prescribed once urine starts flowing. The muscle soreness and feeling weak can last up to weeks. Mild cases generally do not require medical condition and can last up to a week.
Preventing Rhabdo seems like common sense to me, but I am sure even I have over stepped my bounds and trained when I should not have. So here are some ideas to keep in mind to prevent Rhabdo from happening in your life. Avoiding strenuous workouts in hot humid weather unless you are acclimated to this weather and use to doing just that. Keep the wearing of equipment limited when it is hot and humid. Stay hydrated and drink electrolyte drinks too. Make sure you are getting plenty of good salt in your diet. Always select a coach who has proper knowledge in fitness and understands what Rhabdo is and how to avoid it. I can tell you, I am probally pretty blessed I did not find myself in the hospital a few times while training for the CrossFit games, I may have crossed the line a few times. I am privy to this now and have told myself to honor and respect myself at all times during training. I hope I was able to add some insights to this dreaded syndrome for anyone reading this article. Sometimes it is difficult as a competitive athlete to just dial it down to stay healthy.
Stay tuned next week for a new recipe to come out. Hmmmm, I wonder what it will be? Please be sure and subscribe to my website for future updates on health and fitness. As always, peace and mega love,