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How I Got Rhabdo at Starbucks


I love the cool weather. It makes me think of the mountains, leaves turning, etc. Plus I get to rock hoodies, beanies, workout pants, etc… All the things that I would never wear in the summer. It’s because of my local gyms hoodie, that I got CrossFit’s dirty secret: Rhabdo, while at Starbucks.

I normally coach the early morning classes at my gym, then go home, get cleaned up and head into my day job. This particular day, I decided I was going to be a good husband and get my (smokin’ hot) wife some coffee at Starbucks. Given the briskness of the morning, I head into Starbucks wearing my CrossFitLKN Hoodie (the gym I workout at / coach at). The line was horrendous and I, like any other person, started messing around on my phone (Facebook, Twitter, you name it). It was at this point that a relatively young guy comes up to me and says “Oh, do you do CrossFit?” (he read my hoodie). I responded that I did, thinking that the conversation would be over here. Oh, how I was mistaken….

“Oh, well I’m a personal trainer and I would never suggest anything like CrossFit for my clients due to injury, specifically that Rhabdo thing everybody is talking about lately. I always start my clients out with running…you can’t get hurt while running”

Now, as a person, I tend to shy away from conflict, I just feel that there are better things to do with your time than argue with stupid people. But this guy was just asking for it. I answered him using the information below, but I have fleshed it out a little bit for the purpose of this blog.

First off let’s tackle the running injury statement. Running is one of the worst things you could do for someone who is overweight / non athletic. People tend to think that running is easy and anyone can do it. But there is a technique to running and if your trainer is not telling you how to properly run, you can seriously injury your knees, joints, shins, etc… Let’s talk about someone that’s overweight, to the point of obese. They have issues walking anyway and most “trainers” or even doctors, will recommend walking/running as a way to lose weight. What they really should be recommending is a change in nutrition, but that’s another conversation. Let’s talk about an overweight person running.

Structurally, an overweight person running/jogging/whatever term for exercise is a bad idea. The joints in your body were created to hold up to a certain amount of physical stresses. Given your lifestyle, history, etc… you may be able to hold up to more/less stress than someone else. But the point is, there is a breaking point where your over stressing the joints in the name of health.

As a coach, I couldn’t give you Rhabdo even if I tried

Let’s look at how folks are affected by rhabdo. Essentially it targets folks that are doing intense training that their body has not learned or (most importantly) has forgotten how to recovery from. Remember your first CrossFit workout? You couldn’t walk for days? Then remember how you felt a few weeks later? You couldn’t walk for a couple hours? Your body wasn’t adapting, (that’s different) it was learning how to recover from what you were doing.

 The easy one to look at is the person new to CrossFit, their body has not learned how to recover from intense training, therefore we as trainers should be easing them into the workouts, teaching them the mechanics of movements but also behind the scenes their body is learning how to recovery from this type of intensity. Problem solved here.

The harder one is the folks with past athletic history. Let’s take a pro football player, someone who worked out intensely for years and then took a break for years where they did nothing, maybe they even got fat. When this person comes back into the gym and tries to workout with the same intensity that they used to. BOOM. That’s where your problem happens. Their body has forgotten how to recovery from workouts at that intensity and old rhabdo sneeks in and gets them. This one is harder for us as coaches to spot, but we just need to make sure we’re talking to the folks we’re coaching so we know their background.

I told myself I wouldn’t jump on the rhabdo bangwagon. All these posts were going on, flame wars on the internet, etc… But like the mob, I wanted out and I was pulled right back in. I’m curious to hear your thoughts? Do you know anyone at your box that’s come down with rhabdo? Have you? What are your thoughts on everything being said? Let me know in the comments

  • My3rdPlace

    Good points. Thanks Justin. I cringe when people bring up “rhabdo” like it happens all the time.

  • EveryLastRep

    Thanks My3rdPlace…I think that’s the point that I’m really trying to make. The percentage of it actually happening is ridiculously low. It just seems like people are focusing on the minority of cases instead of the majority.