SY Performance Monthly Muscle Flex – Know the Warning Signs of Rhabdomyolysis

Scott Yonehiro

In my 22+ years as a personal trainer in Burbank, I thought I’d seen it all until COVID-19 ripped through our community. The sheer number of individuals suffering from post-workout soreness, dizziness, and nausea has been staggering. While most of these cases are due to a return to the gym after two years of staying home and eating less healthily, a few cases have had the earmarks of a serious medical condition known as Rhabdomyolysis, which requires immediate medical treatment.  

What is Rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis is estimated to affect more than 25,000 people each year. It is a life-threatening condition caused by muscle breakdown and muscle death. When the muscle cells begin to disintegrate, a protein called myoglobin is released into the blood. Too much myoglobin can overwhelm the kidney’s ability to properly flush it from the body. This stress on the kidneys can ultimately lead to kidney failure, resulting in hospitalization, disability, and death.

What Causes Rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis may result from illicit drug use, heart attack, stroke, and genetic disorders. Likewise, certain medications or severe trauma may lead to the breakdown of muscles. But most cases of Rhabdomyolysis are caused by over-stressing your muscles through intense exercise, (AKA working out too hard). This is especially true if you’ve jumped back into high-intensity exercise and strength training after extended periods of inactivity.

Working out, especially strength training; causes microscopic tears in the muscles. Although this sounds like an undesirable effect, these tiny tears heal in time, leading to stronger muscles and the development of muscle mass. However, when you overwork your muscles and exert them too much, you can inadvertently cause skeletal muscle death wherein the muscles deteriorate and break down. If this happens you may begin to experience symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis.

Symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis

Symptoms of this potentially fatal condition include:

  1. Severe dehydration
  2. Severe muscle pain
  3. Stiffness in specific muscles
  4. Muscle weakness
  5. Localized swelling of exercised muscles
  6. Queasiness
  7. Disorientation
  8. Flu-like symptoms (nausea, fever)
  9. Dizziness

What to Do If You’re Experiencing Symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis

Minor muscle aches and pains are to be expected after a solid workout. If they escalate to muscle swelling and/or are accompanied by any of the other symptoms, see your doctor immediately. If you’re merely dealing with a bit of soreness, stiffness, or weakness, follow these steps:

  1. Drink plenty of water and beverages that restore electrolytes.

 This will replenish and rehydrate your body. Bone broths are also a great option for rehydration.

  • Limit your caffeine intake.

Caffeine is a known diuretic, which dehydrates your body, so avoid coffees and teas.

  • Reduce Inflammation

To reduce inflammation, slow walks, and gentle stretching will encourage blood flow that will help to eliminate toxins from your body.

How To Prevent Exercise-Induced Rhabdomyolysis

To prevent exercise-induced Rhabdomyolysis, follow these steps.

1. Ease Yourself Back into Your Workouts

If you’ve been less active than normal over the past 2+ years, don’t attempt to pick up where you left off with workouts before the pandemic. Start with lighter weights and fewer reps/sets for the first few weeks. Not only will this prevent muscle breakdown, but it will also help prevent injuries.

2. Focus on Hydration

When recommitting to an exercise program after periods of reduced activity, you need to be extremely mindful to remain hydrated. This is especially true as the temperatures in Burbank begin to soar. If you’re drinking enough water your urine should be very light, or clear in color. Dark or cloudy urine is a reason to see a physician.

3. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol dehydrates your body, which puts you at an increased risk of developing muscle breakdown. Limit alcohol consumption for better results from your workouts. Increase your water consumption before a workout if you had a drink or two the previous night.

***If you experience severe muscle weakness, pain, dizziness, nausea, or swelling, see a medical professional immediately.

About SY Performance

SY Performance was founded by Burbank-based celebrity personal trainer Scott Yonehiro. Yonehiro created and launched the first “90 Day Body Transformation Program” in 2014. To date, thousands of individuals have completed the program, which utilizes a proprietary combination of science-based techniques, coupled with fitness, nutrition, and mindset exercises to help individuals of all ages to lose weight, reduce body fat, and increase muscle. In Burbank, and the surrounding areas, Scott and his team of trainers provide personal training at ‘Conquer All Things’ Fitness Studio and virtually through his high-performance mobile app.

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