Why don’t personal fitness trainers know about rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), also known as muscle destruction? Over the years I’ve come in contact with many fitness trainers and have discovered that no matter who they were certified by, they were not likely aware of what rhabdo is, or, if they had heard of it, they believed myths or did not take it seriously. I’ve even met college graduates with degrees in exercise science who had never heard of rhabdo. In this episode, I share my thoughts on why certified fitness trainers are not being taught about rhabdomyolysis. I also give my opinions on how to fix this. This is episode 121 of the Joe Cannon Health podcast, available here and you can follow for free on Apple and Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, Alexa Echo, Radio Public, Gaana, and pretty much everywhere else.
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Everyone who works out or who is a fitness coach needs to know about exercise rhabdomyolysis. It's the serious side effect you've never heard about. I've been teaching about rhabdo for over 10 years. If you are in the US, order it directly from me.
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Disclaimer: Episodes are for information only. I’m not a medical doctor. No medical advice is given or implied. Always consult your doctor for the best health advice for you. I participate in the Amazon Associates program.
In May of 2019, I was invited by a friend of mine to sign up for a free spin class via ClassPass app. I thought sure, I ride 10 miles on my bike down the causeway, I can do a little class. Wrong. I was so very wrong. My friend adjusted the intensity of my bike and the class begun. Honest to god in the first 5-10 minutes of standing and pedaling, I physically felt a tear in my left leg and I lost all muscle control and could no longer support my own weight. I could still pedal semi comfortably so long as I wasn’t standing and trying to pedal.
My friend kept telling me to get back up, I couldn’t. I gave one final push at the end of the class, couldn’t make it even 30 seconds and my leg gave out again. I need assistance unhooking my shoes from the bike. I was Bambi on ice trying to walk back to the locker to put my shoes on. I was bumping into everyone exciting the room. “Something is not right,” I kept telling myself.
I took ibuprofen because my legs were hurting and my lower back was too.
The next day; my legs were stiff and starting to swell. I was concerned but I didn’t know that I was entering kidney failure. I attended a friends graduation which required going up and down stairs. When I came home, I passed out immediately. I was super groggy trying to get wake back up. I went to my friends graduation party and she suggested I use the foam roller on my leg. (mistake!) I cried out in pain.
I got in the pool to try to get my legs flowing. No relief. Later that day I could barely walk. The next day my legs were even more stiff and even more swollen. I slowly went one step at a time to go get food and a Gatorade. I took another deep nap, I woke up to pee. It was brown. I called my godmother, “are your legs stiff? And you have nausea? And your urine is dark?”
“Yes….” “You need to go the hospital. I think you have rhabdo.”
“Okay I’ll go to urgent care. I’m not going to the hospital.” I go to urgent care, all they can do is a blood test and send it off and will let me know the results later. The doctor calls 6 hours later, “Which emergency room can I call for you? You’re in kidney failure.”
When I was admitted to the ER, I had 12 lbs of fluid retention, and my blood pressure was 164/105. “We need to keep you overnight.”
They had me try to pee again, and when I say it was Coca Cola colored, I’m not lying. I was told I couldn’t get out of bed for at least 48 hours or I could develop compression syndrome. My CPK was 175,000. My CK was 2.4.
I spent 6 days in the hospital; getting 20 bags of IVs and left the hospital with 30 lbs of fluid retention. I had intense headaches due to my elevated blood pressure for weeks, had to luckily only briefly go on blood pressure medication. It still fluctuates in elevated ranges. My nephrologist told my mom if I waited one more day to be admitted; I wouldn’t still be here.
Oh Erin, I am SO sorry to read what happened to you and learn that you are still dealing with blood pressure problems! I am however thankful your godmother gave you that advice and that you got the medical attention you needed. I know it must have been challenging to write all this and re-live what happened to you. I know your words will benefit others and help spread awareness of how serious rhabdo can be.