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I was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis once. (CK levels were around 10k)

Now I am wondering: am I more likely to get another one? Or does one's history has nothing to do with it? I wasn't able to find any information on this.

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Based on what I was able to find, the answer is "it depends". Rhabdomyolosis can carry with it damage to the kidneys or other systemic problems. If that is the case, then it is possible that the threshold of what caused the condition is lowered.

Now the risk factors for Rhabdo are:

  • Alcoholism (with muscle tremors)
  • Crush injuries
  • Drugs, especially cocaine, amphetamines, statins, heroin, or PCP
  • Genetic muscle diseases
  • Heatstroke
  • Ischemia or necrosis of the muscles (which may occur with arterial occlusion, deep venous thrombosis, or other conditions)
  • Low phosphate levels
  • Seizures
  • Severe exertion, such as marathon running or calisthenics
  • Shaking chills
  • Trauma

Since this site is dedicated to physical fitness, the biggest repeat risk factors would be those related to severe exertion, heatstroke, or genetic muscle diseases. You can't do much about genetic issues, but you may still be able to exercise without rhabdomyolysis if you pay more attention to fatigue.

The biggest defenses you will have against rhabdo (shortened form of the word) will be:

  • Proper hydration. Hydration and electrolytes are imperative for proper body function. Both of these are lost as you perspire.
  • Better fatigue management. Pushing through fatigue can do more damage than it helps. Rhabdo is a more severe consequence of overtraining, but if you recognize when your body is done for the day you can rest properly so the body can rebuild itself.
  • Sodium Bicarbonate supplementation. Sodium bicarbonate will lower systemic inflammation, and the bicarbonate also prevents kidney damage. The recommended supplementation level is 300mg / KG body weight. NOTE: if you supplement, keep your doses 3-7mg at a time split evenly throughout the day. Also NOTE: read the linked article as there are some cautions with supplementation--particularly if you have kidney damage.

These are going to be your best defenses, but they are not magic formulas. Supplementing with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) doesn't make you immune to rhabdo, it simply helps your body recover from fatigue better. The most important thing you can do is when your muscles are fatigued to the point where standing or walking is laborious your need to stop exercising and go into recovery mode.

It also might be a good chance to evaluate your training environment. Working with others can be a tremendous motivator, but if no-one is going to call you on over-working and instead coerce you to "push through the pain" then that training environment might actually be toxic for you. It's best to be surrounded with people who work hard, but recognize the importance of recovery.

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Thanks. In my case, the rhabdomyolosis was definitely caused by training. But I was surprised when it happened. I thought I wasn't pushing too hard. But I suddenly felt really tired. I was in a group class doing shadow boxing. And suddenly, I could barely lift my arms. At that point, I stopped. With that said, I didn't feel bad. My muscles felt sore, but I wasn't in pain. And I recovered pretty quickly (no physical activity for 10 days). There was no damage to my kidneys (according to the blood tests I had the morning after). So hopefully, there won't be any consequence to this incident. – Jean-François Beauchef Dec 31 '13 at 20:32
It sounds like you stopped before it got really bad. Scary that there wasn't any real warning before hand. Fatigue builds up over time, if you had several days in a row with training, you might need to break that up a bit. If you are considering supplementing with baking soda, it might still be a good idea to run it by your doctor. It tastes bad, but I generally recovery more quickly between intense training sessions. – Berin Loritsch Dec 31 '13 at 21:07
All right, thanks for your reply. – Jean-François Beauchef Jan 6 '14 at 19:58

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