Kidneys Can Take A Punch, But What About That Diet?
So first off we'll start with the basics of the kidneys and why they are important to you and your body. Then the differences between blunt trauma and certain weight cutting techniques that effect them as well. Taking a punch to kidney may be easier on your body than the actual process of getting ready for that fight.
The function of the kidneys is to filter your blood. When I was having some problems with my kidneys the doctor explained it to me like this, your body is a coffee maker, your blood is the grounded down beans, your kidneys are the filter that stops the beans from getting into your coffee. By filtering out all the waste in your blood it allows for more pure blood to reach your muscles for recovery. They release a hormone erythropoietin, which basically promotes the red blood cells in your body.
Now where are those kidneys? The kidneys are right below your rib cage, on both sides of your spine. They are about the size of your fist in comparison to your body.
The kidneys are over looked in many aspects of MMA. In MMA kidney shots are totally fair game. Except for heel kicks from guard, those are the only strikes banned. Kidney shots can be very dangerous in multiples. Repeated shots will cause trauma to the kidneys. Physical signs of something wrong is bruising or swelling around your kidneys. The kidneys can act like lower back pain, or even act like abdominal pain. Blood or extra protein in the urine is a sure sign something is wrong also. When any of these symptoms occur going to the doctor is highly suggested. But many times bed rest is the key to recovery. Depending on the severity of the trauma CT scans and other blood work may be needed.
A shot to the kidney is not the worst thing that you can do to them. In the USA cutting weight for competition has become another part of the fight. I know some guys that will cut anywhere from 10 lbs all the way up to 35 lbs just to fight or to compete. That takes a huge toll on your kidneys! Losing that much weight that quickly can easily do your body harm. There are many different ways people cut weight. One of the most popular, yet harmful ways is to dehydrate your body. On average people have anywhere from 6-10 lbs of water retained in their system, so dehydrating your body will cause you to lose that weight rapidly, but the strain on your kidneys will be even greater. This extra strain can lead to renal failure.
Acute Renal Failure (ARF) has many different symptoms some fighters call "normal" during the weight cut. These symptoms can be as small as dry mouth, lack of urine, headache, or as big as lower back pain, nausea, and drowsiness. Some fighters will take ibuprofen to help with the pain of the headache or lower back, this puts your kidneys at a higher risk during the weight cut. You can recover from ARF fairly easy sometimes. You may just need to rehydrate your body with need fluids. Other times you may need more intense method of recovery such as dialysis. If this process is repeated and not treated correctly you can potentially develop Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). With CKD intense long term recovery is usually the only option, besides a transplant if the condition worsens.
Putting your body through that stress is sometimes a necessary evil, that shouldn't be taken lightly. The fastest way is not the best way in this case, taking the short cut can provide damage to a vital organ. Professional fighters have medical suspensions and precautions they go through to make sure that they are fit for fighting and are not damaging their bodies. As for amateur fighters and competitors there is no real precautions except for their coaches and themselves. There are tons of different techniques to cut weight, some much safer than others. If you currently have or have ever had any problems regarding your kidneys, talk to your doctor about safe ways to lose weight without putting too much stress on them.
Until Next Time...