A Malaysian woman living in Singapore has taken to social media to warn friends about the dangers of overexertion during high-intensity workouts such as spinning
Spinning, or indoor cycling, has recently become a popular exercise.
However, due to its high energy environment, coupled with loud, pumping music and motivational instructors, many do not realise how strenuous the exercise can actually be.
Usually occurring only in marathon runners and military personnel, doctors are reporting more cases of exertional rhabdomyolysis caused by spin classes around the world.
Rhabdomyolysis is a life-threatening condition caused by damaged muscles fibres breaking down rapidly and releasing their contents into the bloodstream, leading to acute kidney failure.
Symptoms include muscle pain, muscle weakness, and dark brown urine caused by proteins from broken muscle entering the urine.
That is how 28-year-old Atrina Lau recently ended up in a hospital facing possible acute kidney failure after a spin class
"Spinning almost took my life," she began in a Facebook post on her personal account, sharing her experience after attending a spin class on 7 March.
"Right after I finished class, my legs were limp and I couldn't really walk properly," she said, initially not expecting anything amiss.
"But the next three days of walking was very, very, very painful. I couldn't squat and I couldn't sit. Every movement I made was agonising."
At that point, she said she still thought it was typical muscle soreness because she had not exercised for a long time.
However, in the next few days, Lau said she started to realise her urine turning brown and that her muscle pain was becoming more unbearable
"I finally went online to search for 'muscle soreness after spinning' and saw that the answer was a little more complex than I initially thought," she wrote.
"So that night, I immediately went to a clinic to get referred to a government hospital emergency department to test my blood and urine."
At 2am in the wee hours of the morning, a doctor told her she had rhabdomyolysis.
According to the doctor, her muscle breakdown was so severe that her creatinine kinase levels were over 73,000 units per litre (U/L).
Creatinine kinase is a protein released by the muscles when they break down. Its normal range is usually less than 200 U/L, which meant Lau's blood creatinine kinase levels were hundreds of times the normal range.
"He told me I needed to be hopitalised immediately or my kidneys may fail."
Lau spent four days in the hospital undergoing intravenous hydration therapy and was encouraged to drink a lot of water during the stay
Eventually, her creatinine kinase levels dropped but she was still encouraged to stay hydrated and practise caution after discharge.
Through sharing her experience, Lau cautioned that rhabdomyolysis could happen to anyone and can result from any intense exercise, not just spinning.
"Beginners and newcomers to any sport should know their limits," she warned.
She also reminded everyone to always hydrate after exercising and to seek a doctor immediately if anyone experienced similar symptoms as she did after intense exercise.
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