An outbreak of exertional rhabdomyolysis – a breakdown of skeletal muscle after engaging in physical activity – sent six Butler Community College softball players to the hospital last week following two days of intense workouts.
Butler confirmed Monday that three of the players are still in the hospital and expected to be released early this week. The main danger from rhabdomyolysis is that when too much muscle tissue breaks down, it can clog up the kidneys and cause renal failure.
“I feel terrible for the kids, because it’s an awful experience for anyone to have to go to the hospital and be hooked up to an IV for several days,” Butler softball coach Doug Chance said. “I was scared to death because I’d never even heard of (rhabdomyolysis) before.… I think, in hindsight, we’ve all learned a lesson and I hope people see what happened to us and pay attention so it doesn’t happen to them.”
Last Monday, all 21 members of the Butler softball team gathered at 6 a.m. for a workout at the El Dorado Lake Dam – an 80-yard incline. Chance had the team walk up and down the face of the dam once then had them jog up and walk backwards down the dam four times.
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After an intrasquad scrimmage that night, three players went to the Butler training staff on Tuesday morning and complained of soreness in their calves and were given ice and whirlpool baths as treatment. The team scrimmaged again Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning one player was admitted to the emergency room after experiencing more calf soreness and tests showed her creatine kinase levels were consistent with rhabdomyolysis.
After another player was admitted to the hospital with the same symptoms Wednesday afternoon, Butler’s training staff asked that anyone who had experienced similar pain to be tested.
Of the seven players tested, four were hospitalized.
“The load on their calves ended up being too much,” said Chance, who has won eight Jayhawk titles and led the Grizzlies to the NJCAA Tournament six times. “Most of the sports teams here will run that dam, so I didn’t see how the workout was excessive … we have a nine-week strength program they go through in the summer, so we think they’re in pretty good shape coming back to us.”
Butler released a statement on Monday detailing the hospitalizations.
“We don’t feel like this is a common thing, but especially with all the high school sports and other college starting workouts, we want people to be aware of it,” Butler athletic director Todd Carter said.