Are You Fit for Fitness – what happens when your muscles breakdown?

Low impact, high intensity workouts such as HIIT, spinning classes and weight training have been gaining traction in recent years.

Spin studios, for instance, have been sprouting up across the island, getting an iron grip in the fitness realm. The fast paced cycling along to raucously loud music on stationary bikes promises to help burn up to 1,000 calories in just a 40 minutes session.

A study done in Sweden found that spinning impacts your heart the same way a prolonged exertion such as marathons would. It expands your heart and lung capacity, improving your overall cardiovascular health.

But as with all things, it is important to exercise in moderation. Over exertion could result in scarring of heart muscle, irregular heart rhythms and build-up of coronary calcium, which can contribute to atherosclerosis.

It is also important to know your body – start slow if you have been inactive for a long time, and always listen to your body to avoid overexertion.

What happens when you overexert your muscles?

One has to caution against overexertion during spinning, especially for people who are new to high intensity sports. They could suffer from exertional rhabdomyolysis, a condition that happens when the muscle breaks down from extreme physical exertion.

When overexerted, the muscle cells will release myoglobin into the bloodstream, and eventually to the kidneys. When the kidneys are unable to process the myoglobins fast enough, they get flushed out through urination, turning your urine tea-coloured. If not attended to quickly, the extra pressure on the kidneys might damage them, and may even lead to permanent kidney failure.

Some might feel muscle pain as well, and have trouble walking. Should they take painkillers without a doctor consultation to ease the pain, it might hurt the kidneys even further.

How do you pace yourself? What are some signs you need to look out for?

Hence, it’s important to pace yourself during exercise. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to muscle breakdown or even injury. Signs to look out for include muscle soreness, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

What should you do?

If you suspect that you have rhabdomyolysis or have any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, seek medical attention immediately from an internal medicine doctor. Treatment may involve intravenous fluids to flush out the muscle breakdown products from your kidneys and medication to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

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About Dr Adrian Mondry

Dr Adrian Mondry is a Hypertension Specialist accredited by the German Hypertension League in Singapore. He was previously a senior consultant in the department of medicine at the National University Hospital and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), Dr Mondry has more than 30 years of experience in the field of internal medicine.

Dr Adrian Mondry is recognised for his leadership and contributions in establishing the dedicated hypertension clinic within the National University Health System and fast-track deep vein thrombosis service at NTFGH.

Dr Adrian Mondry is fluent in English, German and French.

About Kaizen Medical

Kaizen Medical is located at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Suite 11-57.

At Kaizen, we provide in depth health care to patients with multi-organs diseases; tackling undifferentiated presentations that cannot be easily assigned to a single organ.

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