We might not think that running has much of an effect on our urinary tract health. In fact, the more we run, the more we need to think about it – we find out why
When it comes to running health, most people spend their timing worrying about injuries, chafing and trainer fit; urinary tract health is not usually the top of anyone’s discussion list. But it should be.
Ultimately, as people progress with their running, they want to run further, the further we run, the more we need to consider our kidney and urinary tract health. So what do we need to consider? We spoke to Rachel Fawcett, Soft Tissue Specialist, Personal trainer and Marathon runner, to find out.
Urinary Tract Infections are far more common in women than in men, and unfortunately, they can be exacerbated by exercise. If you get one, ensure that you change out of sweaty kit as soon as you can and stay hydrated throughout your run. Pressure on the bladder caused by the jolting up and down while running can also cause more pain if you are dealing with a UTI – this really is a time to listen to your body and exercise within the limits that it is giving you.
Women who have suffered from UTI’s in the past and need additional protection, may try a proactive approach. I recommend taking a herbal supplement like Uralix before and after the run as additional protection.
UTI’s often lead to antibiotic prescriptions. There is one group, fluoroquinolones, which have been linked to weakened tendons, due to the effects they have on a tendons’ ability to regenerate normally. These side effects have led to the FDA in America to add warnings to these antibiotics about the effects on tendons, joints, muscles and nerves. These warnings highlight that side effects can occur from a few hours after taking them right up to a few weeks after finishing the course. Maintaining a running program throughout a course of antibiotics is not a deal breaker at all, but if you notice that you are on this type of antibiotic, it’s definitely worth dialling back the intensity of your training and maybe swapping in some runs for low-impact sports such as cycling or yoga.
Blood in the urine
Some runners notice that a long run will lead to blood in the urine (haematuria). This can actually tell us a lot about our run. It can be the sign of something as simple as old shoes with reduced shock absorbency, or an increase of eccentric loading (downhill running). Both of these will lead to increased cell breakdown, showing up as a red tinge to the urine (foot strike haemolysis).
However, urinary blood can also be the sign of extreme dehydration. Running causes minor muscular injury and the release of myoblobin which needs to be flushed out by the kidneys.If we don’t hydrate properly, this flushing system stops working and the myoglobin can clog up the filtration system of the kidneys, which can lead to long term kidney damage.
Excess blood in the urine can also be caused by abrasions of the bladder wall and there are suggestions that this can be reduced by not going for a wee just before a run – we know how tempting this is, especially if we’re used to getting our little ones to do it before they leave the house!
Ultimately, if blood in the urine after a run becomes common or it doesn’t clear up within 72 hours, you really need to see a doctor to check in with what’s happening.