Rhabdo Update and Return to Exercise

Today marks 4 weeks from developing Rhabo, so I thought I’d do an update. There is virtually no “return to exercise” rules online or from a doctor.So I thought I’d share what I’m doing to see if that could help you. But remember, everyone is different. Some people will have more mild cases while others more serious. This is just a quick guide.

To catch you up if you’re not aware, feel free to read my other blog, about 2-3 blogs ago on developing Rhabdo. If you believe you have it, please read it. The short story is, I developed Rhabdo from doing eccentric pull ups. I had to go to the hospital and my CK levels rose to 56,000, a very unhealthy level. The only treatment is IV fluid and rest, so I had to sit in the hospital getting IV fluids, some pain meds and electrolytes. Here’s my outline for post Rhabdo treatment:

Week 1: My Rhabdo was severe and I couldn’t move both my arm for about 3 days, and then just my left arm for about 7 days. I spent this time in the hospital and at home, barely moving.

Week 2: I was released from the hospital after my levels went below 12,000. The next week I was extremely fatigued and could barely walk the dogs for 10-15 minutes. It felt like I had mono (which sucks). Absolutely no exercise except walking, which wasn’t fast or far.

Week 3: I tried to go to the pool 2x this week. I did go, but the first swim was at 25% power and the second about 50% power. Meaning I could hardly move my arms in the water. It felt like I was swimming through molasses and just very weak. I also lengthened my walks with the dogs to 30-40min. I re-started my hip PT exercises and added in some core.

Weed 4: This week: I have swam 2x this week. The first was at 80%, the second maybe 85-90%. I am still not back to full strength or power, but almost. On a side note, all the pain in my arm is now gone, and both arms are the same size. I started to run again this week, and I’ve run 2x. Both times I did a 4/1 run walk and for only 20min running (45min total with walking). I only felt slightly fatigued, but my endurance just isn’t there. I did go back to the gym 2x as well so far and both times I have done light lifting. I’ve focused on my core and legs. For example I did back squat, dead lifts, single leg dead lifts, box step ups, sit ups, planks, etc. All just using lighter dumbbells or the 35lb bar.

So we’ll take the rest of this week the same, then hopefully next week (the 5th week) I can be back to 100%. Fingers crossed. Moving forward, I could only find 1 return to exercise suggestion. This suggestion was to do your strength workouts at 40%. But what they failed to say was, do you do your strength workouts at 40% of the reps that are prescribed, or 40% of the weight, or both?

For example, today at the gym another girl was doing 25 reps of cleans at 55lbs. If I did 40%, that would be 10 cleans at 22lbs. Well, the lighter bar is 35lbs, so I used that one. And I did 12 reps. At first you’re just not going to have the strength or endurance to do what others are doing. But as your strength comes back, it will be important to not try to push yourself to match anyone else. Even if you feel dumb only doing 40%, use your best judgement. I know I could have lifted more, but I didn’t. This was very scary and it’s quite possible to develop it again.

To anyone that develops it: take your time in returning, listen to your body, don’t push it and compare yourself others and know that you might not be able to do 100 pull-ups as prescribed. I’d love to hear others “return to exercise post Rhabdo” stories.

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