Who doesn’t want to lose weight, get healthy and look their absolute best? To do this, many have turned to CrossFit, a workout that pushes your body to its absolute limit with fantastic results. But can even the best CrossFit workouts be too extreme for your health? Can CrossFit kill you?
What is CrossFit training? It’s a military style mix of aerobics, gymnastics and weight lifting that has become a national sensation. CrossFit routines are high intensity and include a combination of strengthening and conditioning exercises like jumping rope, sprinting and carrying heavy objects. Equipment such as kettle bells, dumbbells and medicine balls are also incorporated in CrossFit gyms.
Recently, Good Morning America reported on the dangers of CrossFit. Eric Robertson, a professor of physical therapy at Regis University wrote about a rare and potentially fatal condition called rhabdomyolysis affecting a number of people who do CrossFit. He said, “RHABDO isn’t a common condition, yet it’s so commonly encountered in CrossFit that they have a cartoon about it.” It’s a picture of a bloody clown with its organs dropping onto the floor.
What is rhabdomyolysis? It’s a condition that occurs when skeletal muscle is damaged and proteins are released too quickly into the blood potentially leading to kidney failure. Jill Kloesel, a CrossFit practioner ended up in the emergency room a few days after a workout. She said, “During my workout I didn’t have any warning signs.” Swollen from her elbows to her shoulders, she went on to say, “In some instances if this isn’t taken care of it can kill you.”
On the other side of the equation, Russell Berger, a CrossFit Core supervisor and spokesperson defends the program and says rhabdomyolysis is not unique to CrossFit. “There are cases of rhabdomyolysis from football players to people who run triathlons, from marathons runners to military trainees and body building communities.” Berger also said that it’s a goal in CrossFit community to raise awareness about rhabdomyolysis and how to prevent it.
Good Morning America’s Dr. Richard Besser continued the discussion of the risks of CrossFit and it’s link to the potentially fatal rhabdomyolysis condition. He said, “It’s a term not many people know, but it’s basically death of muscle cells.” “You can see it from different drugs, you can see it from infection, but here you’re seeing it because you’re asking your muscles to keep working after they’ve stopped getting any energy to get the job done.”
Dr. Besser went on to say, “If you’re listening to your body and you’re getting that burn and you say OK I’ve reached my limit and you stop, you’re never going see this happen.” He also advised to drink plenty of fluids before and during the CrossFit workout.
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