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This Month In Body
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    If you’re like most people, the majority of your day is spent sitting down. What are the dangers of sitting too much and how can you move more? Read >>
  • Off-Balance Workout
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  • Is It a Hamstring Injury?
    Unfortunately, injury to your hamstrings is quite common. Pulling, straining, or tearing one of your hamstrings causes sharp pain that puts you out of the game fast. Read >>
  • Pushing Yourself Too Far
    Before you decide to push your body to its limits every day for hours on end, you should know there are risks to over exercising. One such risk is rhabdo. Short for rhabdomyolysis, rhabdo can result from intense physical activity that causes the death of muscle tissue. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Pushing Yourself Too Far

Rhabdo is a strangely named risk of overly intense exercise. Know the symptoms to protect yourself from serious health complications.

Before you decide to push your body to its limits every day for hours on end, you should know there are risks to over exercising. One such risk is rhabdo. Short for rhabdomyolysis, rhabdo can result from intense physical activity that causes the death of muscle tissue. Damaged muscle cells can leak a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. A buildup of myoglobin in the bloodstream can lead to kidney damage or kidney failure.

Overly intense exercise is just one cause of rhabdo. Other causes include direct injury to the muscle, electrical shock, snakebite, illegal drugs, heat stroke, seizures, infection, or a metabolic disorder. Read on to learn more about this dangerous condition.

Muscle Pain and Weakness

In some cases, rhabdo is difficult to diagnose, as it may present differently depending on the cause. And the symptoms of the condition can occur locally or widespread in the body.

While symptoms vary, the three most common symptoms to watch for are muscle pain or tenderness in the lower back, thighs, or shoulders; muscle weakness (especially when trying to move your arms or legs); and decreased urination or dark brown or red urine. Approximately half of the time, rhabdo causes no muscle pain or weakness.

Other potential symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, confusion, a rapid heart rate, or dehydration.

Get Tested

Anyone who develops the symptoms of rhabdo after a challenging workout should make an appointment to see a primary care physician. Though it sounds exotic, rhabdo can be diagnosed through simple blood and urine tests. A blood test looks for evidence of muscle breakdown and a urine test checks for the presence of myoglobin.

Protect Your Kidneys

Untreated rhabdo can lead to a buildup of potassium in the blood, which can cause irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrest, and kidney damage. The earlier you receive treatment, the better the outcome. In mild cases, rhabdo can be treated at home with increased fluids and rest. More severe cases of rhabdo may mean an admission to the hospital for treatment. There, you’ll likely receive IV fluids to increase urine production and medications to regulate your electrolytes. In rare cases, kidney dialysis or surgery may be necessary.

Your prognosis following rhabdo depends on the severity of the injury and the extent of the kidney damage. After a mild case of rhabdo, you can expect to return to normal life in a few weeks, but muscle pain and weakness may persist longer.

People who’ve had rhabdo in the past are more likely to get it again. Talk with your doctor about diet and exercise recommendations following treatment.

Avoid Extremes

While rhabdo is rare, never rule it out as a possibility. Each year, thousands of people are diagnosed with the condition. People who are new to exercise and push themselves to their physical limits are especially at risk. While challenging yourself in your workouts is a good thing for health and fitness, avoid extremes and you’ll avoid rhabdo.

To help prevent rhabdo, always listen to your body. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion, and tailor your workouts to match your fitness level. If you’re out of shape, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts to give your muscles time to adapt.

Before, during, and after each workout, be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush your kidneys, dilute your urine, and eliminate any buildup of myoglobin from muscle damage. With these small steps, you’ll keep rhabdo a long way from affecting you.

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