A UTI is much more common than you think. While it can cause some pain and discomfort, it isn’t necessarily caused by working out. However, if you do have a UTI, there are steps that you can take to make recovery faster and easier, such as letting your body rest for a few days and ensuring that you practice good hygiene.
What is a UTI?
UTI or a urinary tract infection, is an infection that occurs in the urinary system—urethra, kidneys, uterus and bladder. However, the common places for a UTI to develop are the bladder and urethra.
UTI’s can occur in men and women, however, it’s much more common in women. It can be managed with medication, however, you can also implement preventative measures to mitigate the risks of a UTI.
Symptoms of a UTI
- Constant urge to urinate
- Passing small amount of urine, frequently
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Blood in the urine. Urine can also appear red or pink.
- Strong scent to the urine
What causes a UTI?
When an infection enters the urinary tract and grows, a UTI is caused. It can be caused by bacteria being passed from the anus, having poor hygiene, encountering difficulties emptying your bladder completely, and having conditions such as kidney stones.
If you’ve previously had an UTI, your chances of developing one again is higher. It also is much more common in women than in men, due to women having a shorter urethra, meaning less distance for bacteria to travel.
Can you get a UTI from working out?
While exercise won’t cause a UTI itself, it can prolong it.
Bacteria multiply quickly in moist areas. When you exercise, you sweat, which means areas such as your rectal, vaginal and groin, will become moist. It creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.
While sweating while working out isn’t avoidable, your choice of fitness apparel and underwear can make a big difference. Opt for breathable material, especially with your underwear, to prevent sweat and moisture build up. Bear in mind that tight clothing can contribute to this as well.
Also, shower as soon as you finish your workout. That way, you can clean and freshen up while putting on clean and dry clothes.
Can you exercise with a UTI?
The type of training you do can make a difference as to whether you can train with a UTI.
The extra pressure on your abdomen and bladder while lifting can make a UTI more painful. Avoid movements in particular such as barbell hip thrusts, squatting and deadlifting. Instead, wait until your UTI passes before you go picking up the bar again.
Running can exacerbate a UTI. This is because of the constant up-and-down motion that can aggravate your abdominal area and bladder, putting more pressure on it. You may find it painful to run while having a UTI.
While focusing on the core may seem like a better, low-impact alternative than lifting and running, this also involves a lot of hip flexing and stress around this area. Skip the core work until your UTI has passed and return to it when it’s safe to do so.
Ideally, take a few days off to rest and recover. It won’t affect your fitness and instead, will benefit your health in the long run. Not to mention, it won’t be as painful nor will it prolong the infection time.
How to treat a UTI
Whether you’ve decided to continue exercising or not, the best thing you can do when you have a UTI is to stay hydrated. Dehydration is one of the common reasons why a UTI can last longer than it should.
By regularly drinking water throughout the day, you’re flushing the bacteria from your urinary tract. So make sure that you’re reaching for your water bottle throughout the day. And if you’re exercising, you need to up your intake even more.
Avoid caffeine and/or alcohol
While water will help with a UTI, caffeine and alcohol will make it worse. It will make you go to the toilet much more frequently and with more urgency. It will also cause more discomfort and pain in your bladder.
Completely empty your bladder
When you go to the toilet, ensure that you’re completely emptying your bladder, especially before bed. This will reduce the chance of having an accident in your sleep, which is normal with a UTI.
Use a hot water bottle
Having a UTI can cause abdominal pain, making it hard to sleep. This can be relieved by using a hot water bottle or heating pad. It’ll ease some of the discomfort and make it easier for you to sleep.
The more serious UTI cases may require antibiotics to heal. Go to your local GP or doctor to get a prescription and take the medication as instructed by your doctor.