Warning: Read Me First!

Much of the conventional wisdom about exercising isn’t true for people with muscle diseases, and doing it wrong may cause irreversible muscle damage

by Quest Staff on April 1, 2009 - 10:42am

QUEST Vol. 16, No. 2

Exercise can be a good thing — but only if undertaken safely. Here are some warning signs that say STOP.

When muscle fibers are undergoing damage, they usually — but not always — announce it pretty quickly, with cramping and pain.

But sometimes muscle destruction doesn’t make itself known until enough damaged muscle fibers have released a pigmented protein called myoglobin into the blood and eventually into the kidneys and urine. Dark, cola-colored urine hours after exercising indicates this kind of muscle destruction.

Signs of muscle damage or impending muscle damage are:

  • cramping in muscles (probably related to insufficient energy supply for muscles)
  • pain in muscles
  • weakness of exercised muscles
  • dark urine that looks like cola, following exercise. Seek medical care immediately if this occurs.

Many muscle diseases affect the heart muscle, impairing its ability to pump blood fast enough to keep up with the demands of strenuous exercise. Others can cause an irregular heartbeat or one that’s too fast or too slow, and strenuous exercise can exacerbate these abnormalities.

Signs of cardiac stress are:

  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • very elevated heart rate (150 to 160 beats per minute) with even moderate exercise
  • weakness
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • a gurgling sound in the chest with breathing

Seek medical care immediately if these symptoms occur.

It can’t be stated enough: Always consult a physician before undertaking a new exercise program.

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