EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) is a new trend in fitness and sports, eliciting muscle contractions using electrical impulses. Also known as electromyostimulation, EMS is a high-intensity whole body workout in which low frequency electrical impulses are used to stimulate the muscle fibers not engaged in conventional training.
The concern with many EMS trainees regarding an elevation in blood levels of creatine kinase prompted us to write this article.
EMS training induces microscopic tears and damage to the skeletal muscle fibers and connective tissues, leading to an increase in creatine kinase (CK) activity and its leakage into the outside of the cells. In fact, any prolonged, heavy, or repetitive exercise can elevate the circulating CK.
Creatine kinase (CK) is an enzyme that catalyzes the reversible transfer of phosphate from phosphocreatine (PCr) to ADP to form creatine and ATP. An increase in plasma CK is usually associated with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). The severe and rapid breakdown of muscle fibers leading to the release of myoglobin, a muscle protein, into the bloodstream is called "rhabdomyolysis".