Rhabdomyolysis, or “Rhabdo” for short, is the death of muscle cells (rhabdo from Greek meaning “rod”, myo – “of muscles, relating to muscles” and lysis meaning “to break”). When muscle is damaged or strained from work, it releases a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. If the levels of the protein get too high, they can cause damage to the kidneys and even cause renal failure.
Though it’s not a new condition, rhabdomyolysis has been recently associated with popular high-intensity workout regimens which typically have participants pushing beyond their limits with extreme power-lifting along with challenging cardiovascular activities. However, there are other different causes including dehydration resulting from drug or alcohol, trauma, heat stroke, medications, and infection.
One of the signs of rhabdomyolysis is dark, red, or brown-colored urine and can be accompanied by fatigue, muscle weakness, fever, and difficulty moving limbs as well as nausea and vomiting.
To help avoid injury during high-intensity exercise, it’s important to have proper training and diet. Whether you’re just beginning an intense workout regimen or have been training for years, every athlete needs to know the risk for rhabdomyolysis.
Remember to never push your body for too long or too hard in exercise as well as to have proper nutrition and fluid intake so you can effectively flush out myoglobins through your urine.