At 23, Kaelyn Franco was very used to exercising since she practiced sports since she was little. But he never imagined the pain he would feel after his first class of spinning.
As soon as he got off the bike 45 minutes after the session ended, he noticed that his weakened legs immediately buckled. “I felt like I couldn’t move. My cousins made fun of me, but I knew something was wrong “, account on your Instagram account.
After a few hours, already when he was “crying from pain” in the hospital, he would find out that what he initially called typical muscle discomfort, was actually a rare and life-threatening condition called rhabdomyolysis.
This disease occurs when damaged tissues from overworked muscles leak into the bloodstream, which causes a severe pain and affects the kidneys. This can lead to permanent disability and even death.
It can happen to anyone (even athletes)
Unlike what is believed, anyone – regardless of how fit they are – can develop it, warn the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year professional dancer Ashley Elizabeth Daigle reported in an article that a 15-minute sit-up session nearly destroyed her professional career by causing her to have a rash. “Since we have been quarantined, many of us have not been at our usual levels of physical activity and we underestimate how much our routines have changed,” he wrote.
Those who work in very hot places (such as firefighters or builders), exert great physical effort as part of their profession or training (athletes, farmers, soldiers) or are prone to muscle injuries are more likely to suffer from rhabdomyolysis (popularly known as rhabdo ).
The classes of spinning -which are usually of high intensity and are carried out in closed environments- carry a risk of rhabdomyolysis, especially for those who practice them for the first time, warns a study published in the American Journal of Medicine where the matter is classified as a “public health concern” and the importance of creating awareness about its symptoms is emphasized.
Although there are no official statistics on this, the rise of Peloton bicycles and high intensity exercise, very popular during the pandemic, could increase the incidence of this health problem.
“Do not abuse the frequency or intensity of the Peloton sessions. The threat of rhabdomyolysis is real and it is terrible, “warned a Reddit user who suffered from the problem as part of his weight loss plan during quarantine.
He never thought he was overdoing it
Franco had never practiced spinningBut he never felt like he was overdoing it during the session. “I was definitely pushing myself, but I don’t think I was over-exercising to the point of saying to myself: ‘ok, I overdid myself,’” she told Today Show.
At the hospital, doctors saw that his creatine kinase levels were at 259,000, well above the normal 33-211 units per liter.
“They said they had never seen those levels,” says the young woman on her Instagram account.
By then, she couldn’t walk or move.
And everything got worse when he presented a serious complication: Compartment syndrome in his right leg, which involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment and can block blood flow to the point where the muscle dies and the limb is rendered non-functional requiring amputation.
They immediately performed emergency surgery and managed to save his leg.
Two months later, he’s still on crutches
“Although my leg will never be the same and I will have complications for life because of this, I am lucky and I am grateful to be alive and that my leg has been salted,” says the young woman who, two months later, still needs crutches to walk and raises funds on gofundme to pay for medical expenses.
Now he has decided to share his recovery process through his social networks to raise awareness about the dangers of rhabdomyolysis.
How to avoid rhabdomyolysis
Medical experts clarify that the risk of rhabdo should not become an excuse to avoid exercise, which is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Most people will not develop rhabdo. “You can exercise very strenuously and most people will not develop rhabdo. The moral is to gradually increase the intensity”, Explains to Insider Jordan Metzl, sports doctor.
Nor should you completely avoid spinning or other high intensity exercises, but simply take some precautions and watch for symptoms.