I am not a medical doctor nor do I pretend to be a scientist. I can however, tell you my personal experience about the experience of peeing blood after playing, what’s been told to me and also what I have read. Then it is up to you to do what you have to do. It’s called hemoglobinuria lots on info on the Web.
Many people pee blood after they play djembe or congas. Its usually people that have been soloing long, hard, loud and fast. There is usually a strong element of tension involved. Often, there is a lack of breath or a holding of breath, Uneven breathing. Hydration might be another cause combined with these factors.
I have heard everything from it’s dangerous to pee blood when playing djembe and conga drums to it’s not dangerous. From it’s an “initiation” to “if you are not peeing blood you are not playing hard enough”. I don’t agree or follow that line of thought. Personally, it freaks me out. I dont want to see blood coming out in my pee! A nurse even told me it’s not actual blood, but something else. Whatever it is..it can’t be good!
Here is what I noticed helps me and others I have coached to not pee blood. However, I am not saying I have all the answers or this is the answer and this is not medical advice nor is it intended to be! Consult with your physician if you have an ongoing problem. It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself.
For me, peeing blood comes from playing too hard, too long, holding my breath (or breathing unevenly) from not being relaxed and from bouncing up and down when I am playing. Also, being too tense mentally and physically. Trying to force my playing or to “jam” too many notes together. Or any combination of the above that involves too much tension and compression both mentally and physically.
It can even happen from playing congas or djembe in an electric band and not being mic’d up or the band is too loud and you play to heard for simple survival (to hear yourself or be heard).
When I (or others around me that have this problem) play as hard as we can with out rest stops and breaks for long periods of time we can pee blood. I have heard and read that the blood is passing through the kidney before it (kidney) can filter them. I read a story in NY Times about Stanford university medical studies/report on long-distance runners having this problem and conga players (pre djembe craze).
You’ll have to research articles for yourself. I am not here to argue any medical points or scientific facts, just to give you some hints and clues, what I have seen and done to stop this from happening.
I have noticed breathing pays an important part of relaxing properly when playing and performing. Many of us hold our breath when playing drums. For example during a long roll. Pay attention to your breathing and make sure you are breathing evenly when you play, when you play fast or at any time you touch a drum. We have to relax mentally and physically when we play.
Practice playing rolls and practice playing super fast at home consistently, so that when you are in public or tense situations (performing/dance class or wherever), your muscles, mind and body are relaxed because you do it all the time. Training full on will help you to avoid peeing blood. Find a place or way to play full on and full out when you practice. It’s like sparing in boxing. You need to practice however you are going to perform. Otherwise, for most of us it is just too hard on the body.
Your mind, your state of mind and your relaxation process when you play is very important. If you are stressed and tense this can add to the situation. I noticed when I used to have the problem peeing blood, if I smoked weed prior to playing, I would not have the problem. It was gone at once!
This eventually backfired and made my playing weaker (I would poop out half way through the second part of dance class) but it showed me, it gave me the answer that it does have to do with how relaxed I was. I am not telling you to go out and start smoking weed, I am just saying how it showed me that i needed to be more relaxed.
Your strategy when playing is very important. If you are battling it out, competing with others in a drum circle where everyone is soloing at the same time and you are trying to hear yourself or play over people..you can be setting yourself up to pee blood. Are you in competitive situations where yo are in fight or flight playing?
Pushing a lot of notes together with out space and playing long loud rolls constantly with out air or space can add to the problem. Soloing with out phrasing, with out space can cause the problem. Some of us play djembe unleashing a barrage of notes.
If you are peeing blood then you need to look at and analize every part of your playing and re invent your style so you do not pee blood any more. If you don’t know how to phrase, to play with space and air as part of your playing then learn.
If you are competing simply to be heard, wait it out until the others are tired and then solo in a drum circle. Pick your spots, pick your places. Drums tuned to highly pulled to tightly and played too hard for long periods of time can be contributing factor as is a drum that is pulled to low and and banged on too hard.
Some people talk of hydration and about lack of water or being dehydrated as a cause. This should definitely be thought about. I do recommend drinking as much water as possible especially earlier in the day vs right before you play or perform. That seems to have helped in the past, but not completely. You may also want to experiment with sports drinks that athletes use for hydration as well.
Training prior to performing is essential. Practicing how you play. I can not emphasize this enough. The more time you put in training properly (and not repeating bad habits), the less likely this is too happen (peeing blood).
Some people comment that there is a spiritual factor. I don’t know and I won’t comment on this other then to say again that if you look at every factor I have mentioned above and even come up with a few of your own you will have an opportunity to change the situation.
My recommendation to you if you are peeing blood or have blood in your urine is to make not having blood in your urine your top priority. This may mean seeing a doctor. I am not a physician nor is this intended to be used instead of seeing one.
Think about this before you go out to play, jam or perform and make this your strategy and goal. To not pee blood. “What can I do to not pee blood”? If you have to, write down a list of things mentioned in this article and tape it to your conga drum or djembe.
I have a piece of paper on my Sesse Sesse (Ksink Ksink), the metal fins we use that say’s…”breathe, less notes, relax..have fun”. This is what I need to remind myself before i jam, play or perform.
To stop peeing blood our playing and style might have to completely change, but remember, “health is our only true wealth”.
Click on the link below to read an article about it: