Have you heard of rhabdomyolysis? If you are a CrossFit devotee, it’s a safe bet that your coach has heard of it even if you haven’t yet. Although this disease is very rare, it has become an epidemic among CrossFit enthusiasts.
What Is Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis occurs when your muscle cells are placed under such extreme pressure that they explode. As these cells die, they leach protein out into the blood stream, including one form called myoglobin. Your kidneys take up the job of clearing these dangerous proteins from the blood. Why? It’s just what they do.
Unfortunately, myoglobin proteins aren’t designed to be in the blood in the first place and they can easily overload the kidney. When your kidneys try to filter out the dangerous proteins out of your blood, they can quickly become overloaded. This can produce injury or death to all or part of the kidney in a short amount of time, and is potentially lethal.
What’s the Problem with CrossFit?
The high intensity of CrossFit regularly causes rhabdomyolysis to develop. Trainers and coaches from CrossFit know this is a risk.
CrossFit is known for pushing people to extremes in order to maintain an impressive physique. But problems arise when people push beyond what they can handle.
In fact, CrossFit has even developed a cartoon in order to explain rhabdomyolysis. “Uncle Rhabdo” is CrossFit’s disturbing mascot. As a muscular clown, Uncle Rhabdo is generally depicted next to workout equipment, but he is connected to a dialysis machine and his kidney has fallen out and lies beneath him with other portions of his bowels. He’s even left a pool of blood on the floor beside him.
This depiction of rhabdomyolysis is worrisome because it demonstrates that CrossFit knows full well the dangers of the rigorous program. By developing this cartoon, CrossFit comes off as flippant in regards to the issue of rhabdomyolysis. The organization has made no effort to deny the problems of rhabdomyolysis, and it continues to push scores of people past the limit of their physical endurance.
Recovering From Rhabdomyolysis
It’s difficult to predict how an individual will recover from this condition. Sometimes treatment can be used effectively, but sometimes patients are left with permanent damage to their kidneys. Most individuals with rhabdomyolysis lose the toned muscles they had gained from CrossFit and are left with swollen tissue.
Despite these painful and uncomfortable consequences, rhabdomyolysis patients report that CrossFit continues to take no responsibility for causing the condition and instead tries to blame the patients for overexerting themselves. But isn’t it the coach’s job to teach beginners these kind of things?
The lesson to be learned from rhabdomyolysis is that you should avoid going to extremes when exercising. Yes, you should push yourself in order to build muscle, burn fat, and improve your health, but be careful to avoid overly extreme regimes like CrossFit. It is completely possible to achieve your peak physical fitness without pushing yourself to the point of rhabdomyolysis.
Have you encountered the connection between CrossFit and rhabdmyolysis before? Leave your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!