Exercise induced rhabdomyolysis - Characteristics, mechanisms and treatment

Yuval Heled, Arik Zarian, Dani Moran, Eran Hadad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Rhabdomyolysis is defined as a syndrome resulting from skeletal muscle injury with release of muscle cell contents into the plasma. One of the main causes of rhabdomyolysis is eccentric exercise against high resistance. There are mechanical as well as metabolic causes in exercise induced rhabdomyolysis. The mechanical aspect includes high physical tension on the muscle fiber and the metabolic causes include lack of available ATP and disturbance in intracellular electrolyte balance, especially calcium. The clinical picture of rhabdomyolysis may include muscle soreness, reduction of the range of motion, decreased muscle strength, black urine and, in severe cases, acute renal failure. Laboratory results may include delayed high levels of muscle enzymes in the plasma, myoglobinemia and myoglobinuria, disturbance in blood electrolyte balance, and in severe cases, disturbance in coagulatory function and DIC. Compartment syndrome may also be part of severe rhabdomyolyis. The main treatment for rhabdomyolysis is fluids administration and maintaining urination, in order to preserve renal function. In severe compartment syndrome fasciotomy may be necessary. There is a wide variability in the severity of rhabdomyolysis. This variability is not completely understood but may be related to the level of physical fitness, morphometrical characteristics and gender. In order to prevent exercise induced rhabdomyolysis, a gradual training program should be maintained providing enough recovery time, preserving fluid balance, and avoiding extreme eccentric exercise and exercise in high heat load.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-38
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • CPK
  • Exercise
  • Muscle pain
  • Rhabdomyolysis


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