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Fighters at Higher Risk for Kidney Stones

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

by Bryanna Fissori


With the recent report of Jose Aldo’s hospitalization with kidney stones, it is fitting to talk about this issue and why fighters may be at a higher risk.

The formation of kidney stones occurs when crystals in urine grow faster than they can be flushed from the kidneys. They are made of calcium and other materials that collect in large quantities before being removed from the body by the kidneys. This type of waist is water soluble and therefore its transportation is highly dependent upon water intake.

Aldo is not the first, nor will he be the last fighter to find himself heading to the E.R. in sudden excruciating pain. Painful symptoms do not tend to occur gradually, but instead, come on unexpectedly and pain is often followed with vomiting and bloody urine.

According to Doctor Mike Pi who is familiar face cage-side for Hawaii MMA, “High protein diets and dehydration do lead to increased formation of certain types of kidney stones.”

Combat sport athletes such as MMA fighters, boxers, wrestlers or any other competition where one is required to make a certain weight class, are typically at higher risk for kidney stones. The process of exercising without re-hydrating the body is one many fighters undergo toward the last few days prior to weighing in for competition. Over several years of repeating this same routine every couple of months, the material built up in the kidneys becomes a burden to the body.


Routine dehydration, coupled with high protein/low carbohydrate diets set up the optimal environment for the creation of kidney stones, although depending on the exact type of stones present there are a number of other dietary factors which could be contributing such as sodium, calcium and high oxalate foods.

Passing a kidney stone may only require heavy hydration and pain medication, though in other cases surgery may be needed. Either way, the process is going to be painful.

The moral of the story is that it is important to be aware of how frequent dehydration and dietary stress can affect your body over time.

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