Exhausted man checks his watch while taking a break in a gym

A Dangerous Side Effect of Extreme Exercise

As boutique gyms gain in popularity, exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis—a rare condition in which muscle tissue breaks down rapidly—is becoming more common. This dangerous side effect can occur if you push your body too far beyond its limits. Learn about this condition and how you can create a safe exercise plan to avoid it.

How Does Rhabdomyolysis Happen?

After extreme exertion, overworked muscle tissue can break down and release damaged cells into the bloodstream. When proteins like myoglobin enter the blood, they can cause severe pain and kidney failure. This condition occurs most often among those in physically demanding professions, such as soldiers and firefighters. Rhabdomyolysis can lead to permanent paralysis and requires immediate medical attention.

The Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include muscle aches and dark-colored urine. After strenuous exercise, muscle aches associated with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) are common. If your urine looks brown or tea-colored, it could be an indication of rhabdomyolysis or other kidney problems. Visit an emergency room immediately if you experience these or other concerning symptoms.

Creating a Safe Exercise Plan

To avoid overworking yourself, listen to your body and start slow. Check out these four steps to create your perfect fitness plan. If you want to try a new group exercise class, such as spinning or weightlifting, take it easy and go at your own pace. Speak up if something doesn’t feel right. Don’t be afraid to walk out if you feel like you are pushing your body too far.

CHI St. Luke's Health hospital emergency rooms are equipped to treat even the most severe emergency conditions and offer seamless hospital admission if a long-term level of care is needed.

Sources:
Kidney Failure
Myoglobin (urine) Test
Rhabdomyolysis
New York Times - As Workouts Intensify, a Harmful Side Effect Grows More Common