Rhabdomyolysis- What is it, why we’re now hearing about it, and what I think.

Upon searching Google for “Rhabdomyolysis”, you’ll quickly see the latest onslaught of over reaction and explanation of 1% of a complex story.

Can Crossfit kill you?

CrossFit: Can the Popular Extreme Workout Be Dangerous?

CrossFit Linked to Potentially Fatal Condition Rhabdomyolysis

We humans are more motivated by scare tactics and what negative scenarios could happen than by the countless stories of people regaining control of their will power, self-confidence and life by adopting hard work and a sense of community.

NOTE: I do not participate in a CrossFit gym, or workout.  I have competed in CrossFit-like competitions that incorporate strength, explosiveness, and endurance. I have no vested interest, just an interest in human development and a joy of being fit.

Rhabdomyolysis is defined by PubMed Health as the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage.

The logical conclusion is that there are many aspects to our lives that pose a far greater danger than pushing your physical limits. I do not doubt however that CrossFit programs are far more likely to encourage over exertion to the point one’s body is nowhere ready to undergo the amount of stress that the human mind can initialize; especially at first. When a workout is designed with no immediate goal, just a generalized “as hard and fast as you can go” mentality, extreme stressors become present. I would theorize 95% of the population could not imagine this amount of stress and strain, though.  It is not a point that you feel fatigued or that “burning” feeling in your muscles. It is repeatedly ignoring signals from the body that is in dire need of rest, or reprieve.

The much greater danger is someone living a life using every media outlet story about dangers in the world to aid their inaction or idleness.

An approach that is as safe is one that incorporates a medical examination before starting a physical training program. From there step 2 is listening to your body and not getting caught up in what “Becky” or “Harry” is doing. If you’ve been working out consistently for just 2 months, I don’t think you should be straining so hard that you may not be able to move for a week. It takes time to learn one’s limits. It takes time to develop a mind and body relationship where results are not traded for health and well-being.


My take-aways from the recent story lines are as follows:

1. The media is always looking for the new big thing. What better way to captivate an audience than by scaring people, and referencing the newest, biggest, trendiest workout style. I believe this condition does iindeed exist, just believe this should be one of the last things on your mind when considering a workout routine or fitness lifestyle.

2. Over-exertion is real. The scientific explanation of this condition is misleading in a way. It could as easily be described as over-exertion, in my opinion. The best way to combat this it is to eat well and sleep plenty. Our bodies are made to adapt. Give it proper fuel and rest and it will operate optimally.

3. Listen to your body. Do not listen to the guy or gal next to you’s body. Fitness, as many things are, is about balance. Push yourself, but be cognizant enough to know when enough is enough.


Think, Sweat, Grow -Joe


P.S. I am not a Medical Doctor. I am a fitness professional with an insatiable curiosity and will to simply help others.



3 thoughts on “Rhabdomyolysis- What is it, why we’re now hearing about it, and what I think.

  1. Hi Joseph,
    You make some good points. Overall I believe that Professor Robertson’s blog post was blown way out of proportion, and I thought he made it fairly clear that he was just making observations and was looking forward to any future research into rhabdomyolysis prevalence in CrossFit.

    I wrote a blog post on the issue myself, essentially criticising those CrossFit enthusiasts who appear to be frothing at the mouth over Prof Robertson’s rather IMHO sedate comments. Feel free to take a look and comment 🙂

    Jason Jarred

    • Hey Jason. I’m not familiar with Professor Robertson’s blog post yet, but I’m taking a look now. Your post is quite insightful and I’m excited to check out the rest of your posts.

      It is no surprise that the CrossFit community is quite upset about the comments, seeing as passion about “their” workout style is very evident. Thanks for the comment!-Joe

      • It’s worth a read, particularly since it’s the original article over at medium.com which sparked this entire debacle in the first place!

        You’ll see why I’m saying that people are going a little nuts over this post – which I believe is fairly sedate. IMHO the over-the-top response by the CrossFit community has done more damage than Prof Robertsons original post, and every discussion I’ve had with people trying to defend CrossFit usually devolves into them hurling personal insults and being unable to defend their viewpoints. ‘

        That’s the real issue here I believe, that they’re allowing their ‘passion’ to overwhelm their ability to think clearly.

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