My experience with rhabdo


Well Known Rokslider
Feb 7, 2021
Just in case anyone here crosses this path here are some things I wish I would have known. Medical professionals or anyone with knowledge on the subject please correct anything I may not be clear on. Short story, did a decent workout, got rhabdo, ended up in the hospital for 8 days. Details below. Sharing so if any of you run in to the same issue you have some frame of reference for when you should get help. I'd imagine dehydrated in the backcountry putting in work this could happen.

Did a yearly WOD a few Saturdays ago and it sucks, it does every time. The recovery was much different this time though. I woke up Sunday with extreme soreness in my biceps/triceps and chest. I could not straighten my right arm and pain meds did little to solve the issue. After lounging around throughout the day I was able to force some mobility and figured it was just getting older and I don't recover as well. The soreness was a little different, there was that constant "pump" in my muscles that usually dissipates after a few hours, this lasted 5 days for me.

Kept my normal routine into Monday work, no gym, too sore, felt like a pansy. Tuesday I was able to wake up do a light cardio workout and get some stretching in my arms with slightly better mobility than the days before. After about 6 hours at work I took a piss that was a dark brown color streaked with what appeared to be blood(first one that seemed off). I did what every good dude should do in this circumstance, crushed two nalgenes worth of water and assess. Had to be dehydration. After a few more much lighter but teaish colored piss breaks called my doctor buddy and went in for a visit. He shortly sent me to ER and I was stuck for a few days. For all those interested in numbers and such my CK was above 42k(unreadable at the hospital I was at) until Sunday. For me there was no damage to my kidneys or liver, they caught it in time to prevent that.

Looking back the biggest initial alert would have been the muscle soreness. It was much different than normal sore. When I have been normal sore I have rarely, if ever, experienced extremely limited mobility. It may hurt to move but you can still move. This soreness did not allow that, it was a constant pain with tightness in the muscle groups and the muscles were inflamed much more than a post workout pump. Definition in my arms was completely gone. The tightness was such that my wife could not move my arms in certain directions. Take it for what it's worth but I don't recommend waiting until your kidneys start throwing blood in your urine to get checked out.

Since none of you know me and there will always be the questions about my physical shape or what caused it. I am healthy, active, eat well, have 0 conditions that would lead to this, and I am in pretty decent shape.


Well Known Rokslider
Dec 27, 2013
Durango CO
Hate to say it, but whomever “programmed” that WOD (I say “programmed” because few Crossfit boxes actually have programming as opposed to a bunch of random works outs) is an idiot. IDIOT. You should quit ASAP and should tell him that he’s unfit as coach and should consider quitting himself in favor of a job where being an idiot doesn’t negatively effect people’s health to the point of potentially running their lives for a stupid, random workout.

That’s sounds harsh and It should. He’s an idiot. There is never, ever any excuse for any athlete to experience Rhabdo in their training.


Well Known Rokslider
Jun 28, 2018
Largely agree with Poser above- crossfit coaches should not be designing workouts that cause permanent physical debilitation. True that different levels of fitness can influence whether someone gets to this point or not, but a coach should take that into account.

I had a mild case in 2013. Mine included symptoms of a low grade fever as well. Basically, if your piss looks anything like an IPA, it's time to drop what you're doing and get medical attention.


Well Known Rokslider
Feb 5, 2019
Remember back in 2010 when crossfitters had the "pukie" the clown shirt...the irony is not lost.


Well Known Rokslider
Mar 31, 2020
The Plains
I got deja vu reading OP's post. Got rhabdo 4 years ago Sept. 11th, at 45 years of age. Was in the best shape of my life, non-smoker, non-drinker, etc. Went into the workout maybe a little dehydrated, a LOT angry (life was throwing me a few curveballs), and did a partner WOD by myself.
Toughed it out for 3 days, and when I finally went in & told the young pup male doctor there was absolutely something wrong, he blew it off as arthritis. Idiot. I was a lifetime runner & competitor, roughed colts out for years, and I KNEW this was unlike nothing I'd ever had. Their clinic machine couldn't read my CK levels, which should've clued him in.
His nurse called me that afternoon, and the first thing she asked was "how are you feeling?" My CK was at 22,000 (my baseline is 70'ish). Told me to go to the ED right away if I felt worse.
Long story short, I lucked out & no ill effects on kidney or liver function (both were a tad messed up at first). I had myoglobin in my urine (the stuff inside your muscle cells), but my urine never did run brown. Took me MONTHS before I could wash my hair without having to rest. Took over a year before I could do any type of exercise without being totally wiped out.
It's the strained, repetitive movements that get you. Spin class gets people, as do activities performed by some folks with OCD. Obsessive pacers, a guy who was trimming his bushes with a hand trimmer...
I think what got me was being dehydrated, & being mad enough that I ignored what my body was telling me.
If you're middle age-ish, & suddenly feel a workout the day after (instead of the day after the day after), lose 90% of your flexibility, & feel "toxic" or feverish, GO GET CHECKED. I dodged the bullet & have no longterm effects, not everyone is that lucky.


Well Known Rokslider
Aug 24, 2019
I think I had it a couple of years ago trying to prep for an elk hunt. Went from zero activity to well I used to could do this.. me and my best friend decided to hike the steepest / most elevation change of the Appalachian trial so we could see what we needed to change in our plan.

Well I made it 2 miles in..3rd mile the first real climb was ROUGH.. hot summer 90 degrees … I’m a big water consumer and there was little water access where we were at…4th mile was painful .. stopping every few 100 feet to “rest”
By the time I got to the 5.5 mile.. my legs were just trembling and I could barely move a step… first time in my life even when I was total lard arse my body just “quit”

My buddy came back to check on me… grabbed my pack off my back and carried it thr next 200 yards to a flat spot .. we tried to make supper but I literally passed out.. He found some extra water and splashed it in my face to wake me back up and made me drink a couple of liters .. I could only shuffle walk around camp and was pissing dark tea colored urine..

Next morning I woke up sore as absolute hell.. but the next 6.5 miles I think my body just accepted we were going to keep going and was not as painful grueling as the first 5.5 …Made it back to the truck and had the worst odor I’ve ever smelled emitting from my pores.

Buddy admitted on the car ride back home while I was passed out .. he hiked a good bit ahead was trying to find somewhere to get an emergency crew to me .. but everything was covered in dense foliage and we were in the only flat spot which was 50 yards wide 4 miles either way.

Next few days at work I could only shuffle walk after the 7 hour ride home..Only pissed tea colored urine that one time. But since then I have been prone to kidney stones .

Bloodwork has been ok since


Nov 22, 2018
Rhabdo myself just from 5 sets of pullups and knees to elbows. Nothing to strenuous but I have talked to others and a common theme was slight dehydration prior to exertion. Hydrate!

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