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Rhabdomyolysis and What Fitness Trainers Need to Know About It

What is Rhabdomyolysis?

fitness assessmentsWith exercise classes such as Crossfit, Body Pump and other high-intensity classes sweeping the nation, so does the increasing number of cases of Rhabdomyolysis.  According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine “rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fibers contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream.  Myglobin is harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage.”  Before going any further I would like to state that exercise is a great thing and with 66% of the nation being overweight or obese, we could use more health promotion.  This article is about the importance of teaching basic principles of exercise and progressing your clients at a safe pace to avoid harmful conditions such as rhabdomyolysis.

Some symptoms of rhabdomyolysis may include abnormal urine color, decreased urine production, general weakness, muscle stiffness or aching, muscle tenderness, fatigue, joint pain, seizures, and weight gain.  Although this disease may be brought on by other possible risk factors, the one we are most interested in this article is “severe exertion, such as marathon running or calisthenics.”  High-intensity modalities, such as Crossfit, have a higher risk of rhabdomyolysis due to its lack of proper instruction and progression.  These two in combination can be very detrimental to a client’s health and can lead to a man in other conditions.

Before any program can be created for a new client, it is important to perform an all-encompassing health assessment and physical performance test.  These tests can make any underlying risk factors apparent and help a trainer assess the physical capabilities of their new client.  Some possible physical assessments that can be performed are an overhead squat, a push-up test, and a plank test.  A great feature of these tests is that they can be tested at any time throughout a program and are a great way to help boost a client’s morale.  From my personal experience as a personal trainer, even 3 more push-ups or 10 extra seconds in a plank can change a person’s outlook on exercise.

Personal Training is a business of results.  The clients we instruct want results and to our dislike, they want them now.  The ability to design a program that gives a client what they want and what they need is very important.  At the end of the day, it is the clients’ money and a good trainer is capable of teaching their clients the importance of small changes that make life changes.  Personal Trainers that claim quick results and guarantee results are probably not as “good” as they claim and usually have a higher rate of injuring their clients.

Trainers should focus on teaching their clients proper mechanics on any exercise before any increase in intensity (load, volume, speed of movement, amount of work done in a short amount of time, etc).  By using the NESTA approach of every set is an assessment you can make sure that you, as a trainer, are following good protocols.  By constantly assessing your clients you can help them learn new features about their body as it adapts to exercise and learn some instruction techniques themselves.

If you are interested in more information regarding the process of instructing your clients review the  Biomechanics Specialist and Personal Fitness Trainer Course.