Did Spin Class Cause Your Rhabdomyolysis?
A recent article from The American Journal of Medicine studied emergency room visits during a set period at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, New York. The researchers wanted to analyze the cases of rhabdomyolysis that were presented at the emergency room. An intense workout often triggers rhabdomyolysis. During rhabdomyolysis, or “rhabdo” for short, the muscles begin to break down. Dangerous byproducts leak into the bloodstream and may cause serious, even life-threatening, complications.
The researchers were especially interested in the relationship between spin classes and the onset of rhabdomyolysis. During a spin class, participants ride stationary bicycles while an instructor directs them on their speed, resistance, and choreography. Improving one’s endurance is a common goal in spin classes. Spin classes have exploded in popularity over the past few years. During a spin class, a participant may burn hundreds of calories, even though cycling is generally categorized as a low-impact cardiovascular workout.
However, it is possible to overdo it in a spin class and suffer serious injuries, such as rhabdomyolysis.
During the study, the researchers focused on three cases of rhabdomyolysis that developed after the patients’ first spin classes.
In the first instance, a 33-year-old female complained of pain in both of her thighs. Her thighs were also extremely swollen. Four days before her arrival at the emergency room, she had completed 15 minutes of a spin class before she got off of her bike. She was vomiting and felt lightheaded. Lab results concluded that she was dehydrated and suffering from rhabdomyolysis.
In the second case, a 20-year-old male arrived at the emergency room with pain in both of his thighs. Three days earlier, he had taken a spin class. He could not lift his legs, and his thighs were swollen. His blood work also confirmed that he had developed rhabdomyolysis. The patient had a history of Gilbert syndrome, a condition that prevents the liver from processing bilirubin properly. It is generally a harmless condition.
In the third and final case the researchers studied, a 33-year-old woman showed up at the emergency room two days after a spin class. She was experiencing pain in her thighs, nausea, vomiting, and decreased urination. Her thighs were swollen as well. This patient had a history of using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Lab results concluded that she had developed rhabdomyolysis.
When workout participants push their bodies too far, the skeletal muscle may break down. The contents of the muscle cells begin to leak out. These contents, such as myoglobin, electrolytes, and other substances, may interfere with other bodily processes.
In a spin class, riders assume many positions during the class. They may ride a “flat road” or complete a series of “hills.” They may cycle a series of sprints or do sets of push-ups on the handlebars. Therefore, a single spin class involves many repetitive movements, especially in the larger muscle groups. The gluteus maximus and the quadriceps perform the bulk of the work in a spin class.
A spin class is an intense workout. It burns a tremendous number of calories, and physiological studies show that participants lose a lot of fluids. Further, body temperatures rise during spin classes. There are two objective measurements that experts use to calculate the intensity of an exercise. These are the ventilatory threshold and the percentage heart rate reserve.
The ventilatory threshold measures cardiovascular fitness. The percentage heart rate reserve is the percent difference between one’s predicted maximal heart rate and the exercise heart rate.
As for spin classes, one study showed that females who regularly worked outspent approximately 52 percent of a 45-minute class above the ventilatory threshold. The American College of Sports Medicine has also noted that veteran spin class participants demonstrated a “hard” intensity score on the percentage heart rate scale.
The development of rhabdomyolysis depends on the physical fitness of the participant and how long that participant spends in an intense exercise routine. There have been 46 spin-related cases of rhabdomyolysis. In 42 of these cases, the participants were taking the class for the first time.
Rhabdomyolysis may present a variety of symptoms. These include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and brown urine. Lab results may show creatine phosphokinase (CPK) amounts of at least five times normal levels. To treat rhabdomyolysis, intravenous fluids are generally required to flush harmful proteins and other substances out of the body.
How can rhabdomyolysis be prevented?
Rhabdomyolysis, the researchers concluded, is most commonly caused by an intense exercise regimen in an individual that is not used to that specific level of physical activity. Therefore, before trying a new workout class or workout routine, the individual should ease into similar motions. For example, before attempting an intense spin class, the individual should spend time on a stationary bike, exploring different speeds and resistance levels. Before beginning a new weight lifting routine, the individual should practice the moves at lower weight levels. By easing into a new routine this way, the muscles may not experience as much “shock,” reducing the risk of rhabdomyolysis.
Personal trainers, fitness center supervisors, and those in charge of exercise classes should also be familiar with the risk factors of rhabdomyolysis. These professionals should not challenge new participants to push themselves too hard. It is wise for exercise class instructors to ask if anyone is taking the class for the first time before the class begins so these participants may be observed during the hour.
Can gyms and workout instructors be held accountable if a participant develops rhabdomyolysis?
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis after an intense workout, you might be able to file a legal claim to seek compensation for your injuries. Whether you can file a claim depends on the facts surrounding your injuries.
For example, did a workout instructor tell you to keep pushing yourself during a class, even though you were fatigued? If so, you could be able to file a claim against the instructor and the workout facility. However, if an instructor advised you to slow down, reduce your weight, or otherwise lower the intensity of your workout and you did not take the instructor’s advice, filing a claim may be challenging.
If you were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis after a workout, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible to learn about your legal options. There are deadlines in place that limit how long an injured victim has to file a legal claim. If the injury victim chooses not to file a claim by the applicable deadline, he or she could lose the right to seek compensation. Therefore, any medical expenses lost wages, and other losses will be the sole responsibility of the victim. To ensure you maximize any potential recovery in your personal injury claim, you should make an appointment with a lawyer as soon as possible.
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