But it’s not as bad as it sounds

By Catherine Orda | Photo by Martin Barák /Unsplash

Behind one of today’s most hyped-about workouts are not only obvious physical benefits but also some hidden health threats.

Spinning, well-known and well-loved for its fun and deceivingly simplistic approach to fat-burning, is actually an activity that can cause injuries similar to ones you could sustain from a car crash.

New research suggests that the high-intensity workout is particularly dangerous for first-time spinners or anyone who’s a novice when it comes to grueling physical activities as it can lead to a condition called rhabdomyolysis.

According to a study in the American Journal of Medicine, rhabdomyolysis occurs as a result of severe muscle trauma—the kind that can break down one’s muscles and have the resulting debris released into the bloodstream, which can ultimately lead to serious complications such as kidney failure and cardiac arrest.

A Car Crash-Like Injury?

Most people who suffer from rhabdomyolysis don’t normally experience any symptoms, but for those who have sustained extreme muscle damage, some serious health ramifications include dark urine, nausea, and muscle aches.

The condition is common in victims of car crash and other crush injuries such as a building collapse or a fall. But recently, researchers have also found it to be a direct result of spinning, which is an intensive workout that heavily relies on the use of two of the human body’s biggest muscles (the quadriceps and the gluteus maximus) at a very intense rate.

“Spinning is a great exercise,” Dr Brogan, a nephrologist who has written extensively about the subject, told the Today Show. “But people should be aware they need to take it slow in the beginning. There should be some guidelines”

Although there’s no question as to the seriousness of such a condition, all this information shouldn’t be reason for you to completely stop spinning. As mentioned, the people at risk for sustaining rhabdomyolysis are first-time spinners or anyone who hasn’t worked out for several years and decided to just over-exert themselves one day. If you’re used to intensive workouts, then spinning shouldn’t be such an alarming prospect.

Spinning Safely

But as should be the case in all matters concerning fitness, it’s always wise to keep a few caveats in mind. In spinning, one of the crucial things worth remembering is that it is an advanced, somewhat specialized workout in that it requires serious levels of endurance.

Robert Arreaga, a personal trainer at Equinox in New York City told Independent: “You can’t go from doing nothing to waking up one day and deciding to start spinning.”

Doctors also advise that if you’re new to working out, you might want to start with low-intensity alternatives to spinning (whose point is, essentially, to push yourself beyond some serious limits). “Spinning is a great exercise,” Dr Brogan, a nephrologist who has written extensively about the subject, told the Today Show. “But people should be aware they need to take it slow in the beginning. There should be some guidelines.”