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Guard Your Health is a resource for Army National Guard Soldiers and family members. Find health-related tools and information. Hear from fellow Soldiers and Families. Make medical readiness part of your personal mission.

I was recently diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis and am eager to get back to where I was. I am curious if there are any recommendations to help my fitness progress, without winding up in the hospital for another five days.

We are happy to provide some suggestions, but please note that Ask the Experts does not replace professional guidance from a medical health professional.

Rhabdomyolysis, also known as rhabdo, is a serious condition due to a direct or indirect muscle injury. When muscle tissue breaks down (because of injury or vigorous exercise), it releases the protein myoglobin, which is normally flushed out by your kidneys. If someone releases too much myoglobin, their kidneys can get clogged, possibly causing kidney damage and leading to a rhabdo diagnosis.

Although the condition is very serious, you can have a full recovery after being diagnosed with and treated for rhabdo. Once you have the green light to start physical activity from your medical health professional (usually after one to three weeks), here are some tips to get back into a regular workout routine:

  • Start gradually with non-strenuous exercise like basic yoga or walking. You don’t want to overwork your muscles and have a setback.
  • Hydrate often. Water will help dilute your urine and flush myoglobin out of your kidneys. Find out how much water you should be drinking.
  • Monitor potassium and calcium levels. Work with a medical health professional or dietician to develop a customized plan to help maintain proper levels of these nutrients. This will help prevent an irregular heartbeat or additional kidney damage.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine for now. They can cause a reoccurrence of rhabdo.
  • Incorporate rest days into your routine. Work out one day and take it easy the next.
  • Sleep at least seven to eight hours a night to give your body a chance to relax and repair muscles.
  • Modify your workouts to a slower pace when needed. If you are taking a group exercise class, like cycling or CrossFit, tell your instructor that you’re recovering from rhabdo. He or she can modify your workout to a lower intensity level.
  • Avoid working out in extreme heat or cold. You risk potentially getting heat stroke or hypothermia, both of which could trigger a recurrence of rhabdo.

We encourage you to talk to your medical health professional about an exercise plan that works for you and ways to prevent rhabdo in the future. Good luck with getting back on track with your fitness goals.