High Creatine Kinase Levels and Muscle Damage

Muscles are susceptible to damage, just like other body tissues. Trauma, infections, certain medications or even strenuous exercise can cause varying degrees of muscle injury. Pain is a common indicator of muscle damage but is generally not useful for establishing the extent of injury. For this reason, a biomarker in the bloodstream called creatine kinase is often measured to diagnose and evaluate muscle damage.
Creatine kinase, or CK, is a type of enzyme found within your muscles. It aids in the production of phosphocreatine, a molecule utilized by your muscles for energy. Injury to the membrane surrounding muscle cells allows CK to leak into the bloodstream. CK exists as three forms: CK-MM, CK-MB and CK-BB. CK-MM is located primarily in the skeletal muscles, whereas CK-MB is localized to the heart and CK-BB is mostly found in the brain. For males over 18 years of age, normal blood CK levels typically range from 52 to 336 units per L, or U/L. Normal CK levels in females usually range from 38 to 176 U/L.
Injuries to the skeletal muscles often trigger high levels of CK-MM. These muscles are the type that most commonly comes to mind when we hear the word muscle. They are “voluntary” muscles that you are able to control — for example, your bicep and tricep. Damage to the skeletal muscles can occur for various reasons, including muscular dystrophy, trauma, strenuous exercise, immobility, certain drugs, muscle injections, seizures and surgery. Strenuous exercise frequently triggers a rise in CK that peaks 16 to 24 hours following a workout, then stays elevated for 72 hours before falling back to baseline. Those with muscle diseases typically experience chronically elevated CK-MM. People with Duchenne muscular dystrophy may have CK-MM levels 50 times greater than normal.
Some studies suggest that amino acids may ameliorate elevation of CK levels after exercise. According to a study published in December 2007 in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism,” branched-chain amino acid, or BCAA, supplements may reduce CK levels after exercise as well as muscle damage and soreness. The study researchers found that consumption of a beverage containing 200 kilocalories of BCAA immediately before and 60 minutes into a workout reduced CK levels 4, 24 and 48 hours after completion of exercise. These findings may be of benefit to people suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise.
One of the most common causes of elevated CK is a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle, known medically as a myocardial infarction or heart attack. CK-MB levels typically peak 2 to 24 hours following a heart attack and gradually fall back to baseline after three to four days. Seek immediate medical attention if you have symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw pain that radiates to your left arm or excessive perspiration. Since many of the causes of skeletal muscle damage can also be quite serious, contact your doctor if you experience severe or prolonged muscle pain or weakness.

How to Put On Golf Straps

A golf strap is a necessity for using a carry golf bag around a course. Although many bags are sold with the straps attached, they can break and wear out over time, and you may decide you want to use a different type of strap. Although attaching a strap is easy, it must be properly adjusted to avoid back strain.
Remove the strap from the packaging and unfurl the strap onto a flat surface. Straps have one thick padded end with a clip and another narrower, unpadded end with its own separate clip.
Clip the padded end of the strap to the ring at the top of your golf bag. This part of the strap hangs over over your shoulder and bears the brunt of the bag’s weight.
Clip the narrow, unpadded end of the strap to the ring near the bottom of the bag. The second ring is sometimes located on the front of the bag and sometimes on the side, but it will attach to either location in the same way.
Slip the bag on with the padded end of the strap over your shoulder to determine if it’s adjusted properly. The center back pad of the golf bag should align with the lower lumbar region of your back to prevent back strain. Adjust the length of the strap as needed. Some models even allow you to adjust the strap length while walking.

What Equipment Is Needed for P90X Workouts?

P90X is a popular at-home fitness program. To execute its workouts properly you will need some basic P90X equipment. Basic equipment includes dumbbells or resistance bands, a chin-up bar and a yoga mat. Beachbody–the company that markets P90X–recommends additional equipment and supplements. While you could complete the P90X routines without this equipment, using it may improve your performance.
Yoga mat: Regardless of whether you have carpeted or hardwood floors, you may want to buy a yoga mat. The mat will help absorb shock and protect your joints during the high-impact P90X workouts. While some of the routines require a mat, you may want to use one even on routines that don¡¯t. Dumbbells or resistance bands: Most P90X routines require some form of weight resistance. Beachbody recommends dumbbells ranging from five to 70 lbs. The amount of weight you will need will vary depending on your fitness level and a particular routine. If you don¡¯t have access to weights, you can modify the routines with resistance bands. Chin-up bar: To complete the pull-ups and back exercises, you will need a chin-up bar. Most bars fit inside a doorway in your home. Many of these models can also double as push-up stands for the chest workouts.
Push-up stands: Beachbody recommends using these grips to help increase the intensity and effectiveness of the chest exercises. If you prefer, you can use your chin-up bar or a pair of dumbbells. Yoga blocks: If you¡¯re not very flexible and can¡¯t use your fingers or hands to support your body during the yoga sequences, you may want to invest in yoga blocks to provide extra support and stability.
Heart-rate monitor: Tony Horton, P90X¡¯s instructor, often references his heart rate during the intense cardiovascular portions of the series. If you want to exercise at your target heart rate, use a monitor to track it. Body-fat tester: This tracking tool can help you monitor the way your body changes as you progress through the P90X regimen.
Recovery drink: After cardiovascular and muscle conditioning routines, you will want to refuel and replenish your body with a mix of carbohydrates, protein and other essential nutrients. Beachbody markets a recovery drink, but you can purchase other products or make your own. Whey protein: Weight trainers often turn to this milk-derived protein to build muscle; Beachbody recommends adding this supplement to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Creatine: Athletes have long used creatine to increase energy production and muscle strength. Check with your health care provider before adding any workout supplement–including creatine–to your diet.
Beachbody sells a branded line of products through its website. Major discount department stores sell basic weight sets, resistance bands and mats. Sporting goods stores usually offer more specialized and varied equipment. P90X products, such as pull-up bars, have become major sellers at online retailers partly because of the program¡¯s large following.

What Do Soccer Players Wear?

You already know that it doesn’t matter what you wear to play a pickup game of soccer and that some form of the game can be played just about anywhere. Playing on an official team is a different matter. Rules governing clothing vary depending on the type of soccer league and where it’s located. For serious teams, the regulations of FIFA, which governs World Cup play, are generally followed. The team or league you play for often provides uniforms for players.
Most soccer teams outfit players with a T-shirt or jersey in the team colors. A number to identify players is marked on the back of the jersey. Jerseys are generally short-sleeved, although long-sleeved shirts are not uncommon and perfectly acceptable. If the weather is cold you can wear a long-sleeved shirt under your short-sleeved uniform top, but FIFA regulations state that the sleeves must be the same color as the top shirt. A goalkeeper’s shirt must be a different color than those of the rest of the team.
Field players always wear shorts made of lightweight material with an elastic waist. FIFA regulations allow for an extra pair of shorts under the main shorts as long as they are the same color. One-piece suits are not allowed in soccer. A player’s number is often printed on the shorts, but not always. Goalies can wear long pants, often with padded hips.
Socks and shin guards are required protective equipment for FIFA play. USA Youth Soccer, which oversees the majority of soccer leagues for kids, also requires that shin guards be worn for all practices in addition to games. FIFA prohibits items that can cause injury to other players but notes that headgear, face masks and other items made of soft and padded material are acceptable. Referees inspect players before a game and may disapprove the use of protective gear. Goalies are allowed to wear gloves.
Soccer shoes come in a few different styles, depending on the type of playing surface for the game. You will typically wear cleats to play games and practice on natural, outdoor surfaces. Cleats are molded into the bottom of soccer shoes, or are detachable, and help provide traction on slippery or unstable surfaces. For playing on indoor surfaces or artificial turf outdoors, shoes have grooves and patterns on the bottom, rather than cleats. Metal cleats are not prohibited for FIFA play, but youth and high school leagues set their own rules regarding cleat types. Referees will check the bottoms of shoes to ensure cleats are well-maintained and not sharp enough to injure other players.

The Advantages of Strong Glutes

Your glutes are the largest and strongest muscles in your body. They consist of three different muscles: gluteus minimus, medius and maximus. The three muscles work together to abduct, rotate and extend the hip. Strengthening your glutes can help improve posture and make sitting down, standing, picking up heavy objects and climbing stairs easier. Developing strong glutes can also improve athletic performance and decrease your risk for injuries.
Strong glutes are essential in almost every sport. They are responsible for accelerating, decelerating, changing directions and creating explosive power in jumps. Sprinting is one of the most effective exercises for simulating the glutes and activates 234 percent more of the gluteus maximus muscle than a vertical jump, reports Bret Contreras, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Athletes with strong glutes will be faster, more efficient and explosive in their movements than athletes with weaker glutes.
Developing strong glutes is not only essential for optimal performance, but also can decrease your risk for injury in the knees, lower back, hamstrings and groin. Weak glutes can cause an imbalance in the hip, which may lead to excessive medial rotation of the femur and lateral tracking of the patella, thus potentially causing knee pain, notes Mark Young, exercise and nutrition consultant. Strengthening your glutes decreases your risk for back injuries in exercises such as the deadlift and squat by taking some of the pressure off your lower back. Furthermore, weak glutes may also contribute to pulled muscles in your hamstring or groin.
Train your glutes at least once a week using mostly compound, multi-joint exercises, such as full squats, deadlifts, lunges and stepups. These exercises mimic real-life functional movements, which can help improve daily life. Additionally, include aerobic exercise in your weekly routine. Perform at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. Hill walking or elevating the incline on your treadmill or elliptical machine will help strengthen the glutes while burning fat. Intermediate or advanced trainees can replace one to three moderate-intensity aerobic sessions with high-intensity sprinting sessions to help build and strengthen the glutes.
Begin with a five to 10-minute aerobic warmup on the treadmill, bike or elliptical machine. Complete one or two warmup sets of full barbell squats using a light to moderate weight. Increase the weight on the barbell to 65 to 75 percent of your one rep maximum, and complete three sets of eight to 12 reps of full barbell squats in which your hips drop down below parallel to activate the glutes. Next, perform three sets of eight to 12 reps of straight leg deadlifts, hack squats, bench step-ups and walking lunges, taking long strides to place more emphasis on the glutes.

Elbow Pain While Throwing Baseball

Compared to high impact sports like football, baseball seems relatively safe and injury free. Yet many players don’t realize the strain that throwing puts on the body. Whipping your arm around to sling a baseball at high speeds puts significant wear on your joints, muscles and tendons, particularly at the elbow.
Baseball players who experience pain while throwing a baseball are most commonly inflicted with a form of tendonitis. Elbow tendonitis is an inflammation of the area around the elbow. The elbow is made up of a series of muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. When these areas become overworked or injured they swell, causing pain in the elbow and surrounding areas when throwing a baseball. Specifically, the problem occurs where the tendons connect muscle to bone.
The most usual cause of elbow pain when throwing a baseball is simple overuse which wears down the elbow’s anatomy. When throwing a baseball, the tendons on the outside of the arm are stretched to maximum capacity. Conversely, the tendons on the inside of the arm are greatly compressed. The problem is exacerbated in players who do not warm up and subsequently stretch tendons that are cold and stiff. In players that throw often, especially pitchers, the frequent high speed motion can cause weakness in these tendons, eventually causing small fractures and inflammation. Elbow tendonitis is especially common in young players who have not adopted proper prevention strategies.
The symptoms of elbow tendonitis are pain and stiffness when moving the elbow. In baseball, symptoms will present mostly with throwing motions. Players may also notice swelling around the elbow. The pain is centered around the elbow, but can spread from the upper arm all the way down to the wrist. Standard treatment for elbow tendonitis is rest, up to eight weeks depending on the case. In addition to rest, players should regularly ice the elbow to help decrease swelling and inflammation. Pain killers may be prescribed in extreme cases.
The best way to avoid developing elbow tendonitis is by warming up and stretching properly before throwing at maximum capacity. Always begin your practices or games by engaging in light throwing sessions until your arm is warmed up. Pitchers especially should take plenty of time to warm up before throwing full speed. After your elbow is warmed up, stretch your entire arm; from the wrist all the way up to the shoulder. In between innings, players should wear a sweatshirt or jacket to keep the tendons warm.

10 Good Things About Soccer in Middle School

For many kids, middle school is the place where the game of soccer goes from a recreational activity to something more serious and competitive. Typically, there are tryouts for positions, and coaches start to become more concerned with winning than having fun. A number of professional players, coaches and soccer experts believe there are a lot of good things about representing your middle school on the soccer field.
You get to stand up and be proud. “Playing for your school ties the academic to the athletic and allows you to play for something bigger than yourself: your school and community,” says former U.S. national team player Tony Sanneh. It gets you fit. “Instead of going home after school, you are out on the field, running and sweating and increasing your strength and stamina,” says Pierre Barrieu, fitness coach or the U.S. men’s national soccer team.
It builds unity. “Competing for victories and titles with my classmates gave me a sense of camaraderie I take pride in to this day,” says Chris Henderson, former U.S. national team player and current technical director for the Seattle Sounders. It creates memories. “I was the only player from school team to go on to play soccer in college, but those teammates were friends that I spent each day with during school, and are my friends to this day,” says former professional goalkeeper and current youth soccer coach Mike Ammann.
It’s a way to support your kids. “In middle school, the games are almost always nearby, so it’s a great way for parents to get out and cheer on their children,” says Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer. You have to study hard. “School teams usually require students to maintain a high grade-point average in order to compete, which can be a strong incentive,” says Michael Lewis, journalist and author of “Soccer for Dummies.”
It makes you budget your time. “Playing middle school soccer helps students learn how to better organize their time, which pays huge dividends in the long run,” says Sam Pierron, director of special projects for Sporting KC, a professional soccer team. You get more touches. “School teams usually train four or five days a week, which means more touches on the ball, and that’s always a good thing,” says U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley.
You lean on others. “In soccer, no one player can do it all by himself, so being a part of a team helps kids learn to rely on and trust one another,” says David Kammarman, director of soccer operations for the Los Angeles Galaxy. You get to be on the inside. “Being on any team is something special. There are always certain things that stay within the team and that teaches trust and honesty,” says U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley.

What Exercises Get You to Hit Harder in Football?

Like the vertical jump in basketball, a big tackle in football is essential. A big hit can win both the ball and also the respect of the opposing team. If you deliver enough big hits, your opponents may hesitate for a split second during play and give you a vital, and even game-winning, advantage. There are numerous exercises that you can preform to help develop your hitting power.
Thrusters develop all of the muscles used when delivering a big hit in football. This exercise requires you to use your arms and legs in synergy to generate a large amount of power. Stand with a barbell held at shoulder level and your feet shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back, bend your knees and descend into a deep squat position. Explosively extend your legs and drive up and out of the squat. Maintain the momentum of the bar and drive it overhead to arm’s length using your arms. Bend your arms, lower the bar back to your shoulders and repeat. This exercise is most effective when performed with heavy weights for low repetitions.
Barbell squat jumps target your thighs and hips. These muscles are responsible for developing the majority of your power when making a tackle in football. Place and hold a heavy barbell across your shoulders. Make sure you hold the bar down tightly. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back, bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. From this position drive up and leap into the air as high as your can. Land on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent and then descend into another repetition. Perform this exercise using a moderate to heavy weight for maximum benefit.
The sled bear crawl mimics the scrimmage starting position and develops the muscles responsible for driving you forward and into the opposition when blocking or tackling. Load up a weighted sled with a heavy weight and fix the tow straps around your waist. Alternatively you can use a chest harness. Bend your knees, lean forward and place your hands on the ground. Move one foot slightly in front of the other so you are ready to drive forward. Keeping your hips low, move your hands and feet to pull the sled forward for a predetermined length of time or distance.
The high pull exercise develops hip extension strength and power. The hips are essential for generating a big hit. Place a barbell on the floor and stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes just under the bar. Bend your knees and lean forward. Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Straighten your arms and lower your hips below your shoulders. With your chest up and lower back tightly arched, explosively pull the bar off the ground and stand up. Pull the bar up the front of your body to lower chest-height while keeping your elbows high and your wrists straight. Lower the bar back to the floor and repeat. This exercise should be performed as dynamically as possible.

Soccer Striker Training Tips

The soccer striker is the goal-scorer on a soccer team, and the player who plays the closest to the opposition goal during a game. Soccer striker training should incorporate shooting technique, movement and decision-making. A soccer striker must have the ability to keep possession of the ball for his team during open play, and to shoot and score goals when the opportunity arises.
Shooting technique is a vital aspect of soccer training for a goal-scorer. When shooting toward the opposition goal, a soccer striker must plant her foot directly next to the ball with the toes pointing toward the target. The ball should be contacted with the knee over the ball and the follow-through should point at the target. Practice technique by incorporating plenty of repetitions. Have a player feed you 20 to 30 balls inside the 18-yard area and practice taking a touch and shooting on goal. Perform this drill from outside the left goal post, central to the goal and outside the right goal post. A good distance to practice shooting on goal is 10 to 15 yards away.
Whether you are shooting for power or accuracy will determine which surface of the foot you use to shoot the ball. When shooting for power, the toes should be pointing down and the laces of the foot used to powerfully propel the ball toward the opposition goal. When shooting for accuracy, use the side of your foot to contact the ball, with the follow-through pointing to the target. Have a player roll a ball to you and call as it arrives ¡°power¡± or ¡°accuracy.¡± This will teach you to make decisions quickly. Practice plenty of repetitions of both.
A soccer striker must be able to lose defenders in short spaces to open up an opportunity to score a goal. Forwards should practice creating space by playing one-on-one, or two-on-one attacking drills. Use the 18-yard area as the boundaries and practice running to near post or far post, as well as checking back to ball to lose a defender.
Shooting drills that involve plenty of repetitions ending in a shot on goal should be used regularly as part of a soccer training regime for a striker. Examples of drills a soccer striker can use include balls being rolled from the side of the penalty box with the striker taking a touch and releasing a shot on goal. Adding defensive pressure is a big help to soccer training for a striker. Defensive pressure allows you to develop a feel for when to shoot early or when to take your first touch away from the defender.

The History of Football in Spain

In Spain, football — the sport known in the United States as soccer — is the most popular sport. The Spanish national football team won the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and also has been successful in the UEFA European championship and multiple Olympic tournaments. The Spanish word for football is “futbol.”
Football came to Spain in the late 1900s as an import from the British Isles. Spanish students who had studied in Britain brought knowledge of the game home with them, and British immigrants to Spain and visiting sailors brought football culture to the country from their homelands. In his 2003 book “Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football,” Phil Ball states that the oldest official Spanish football club, Huelva Recreation Club, was formed at the end of 1889 by British immigrants working at the Spanish Rio Tinto Company.
In 1890, Spain’s first official football game was organized in Seville. The opposing teams were Huelva Recreation Club and Sevilla FC, and most of the players on both teams were British. Sevilla FC, like the club Gimn¨¤stic de Tarragona that formed in 1886, did not form a regular team until the 20th century. Sevilla FC’s team formed in 1905 and Gimn¨¤stic de Tarragona formed in 1914. The Madrid Football Club was formed in 1902 and in the early 1900s other teams sprung up, including Club Vizcaya, FC Barcelona, New Foot-Ball de Madrid and Club Espa?ol de F¨²tbol.
Regional Spanish teams began competing against one another in 1915. The national team, known as La Selecci¨®n, played at the Olympic Games for the first time in 1920, winning the silver medal. In 1926, football became recognized as a professional sport in Spain. A national football league was first proposed in 1927, and 10 Spanish teams were admitted to the league’s First or “Primera” Division during 1928. These first league teams were Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Athletic Madrid, Real Sociedad, Racing Santander, RCD Espa?ol, Arenas Club de Getxo, CE Europa and Real Uni¨®n.
Spain’s national football team has had many international successes since its silver medal in the 1920 Olympics. In 1950, the team placed fourth in the FIFA World Cup and in 1964 it won the UEFA European Championship. Spain was runner-up in the UEFA championship in 1984 and won the Olympic gold medal in 1992. The team also has been very successful in the 21st century, winning silver at the 2000 Olympics, winning the 2008 UEFA European Championship and placing third in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. In 2010, Spain won the FIFA World Cup for the first time.