<img height="1" width="1" alt="" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?ev=6048136207047&amp;cd[value]=0.01&amp;cd[currency]=USD&amp;noscript=1"> Stressed Out? Read what role the blood values Cortisol and CK play in this
October 21, 2016
in Blogs
5 min. reading time

Stressed Out? Read what role the blood values Cortisol and CK play in this

Stress is the trend of the 21st century. If you are not stressed you are doing something wrong. You train a lot and are always busy, super right?

Well, no! Why do we think we always have to go full throttle?

Instead of telling ourselves that 'more' is always better, it is more important that we check whether our bodies can still cope with it all.

Are you ever tired, but as soon as you get to bed you are wide awake? Or have you slept all night, but still wake up tired? This is not normal, but many people suffer from this.

The stress hormone; Cortisol, is a major player in this. But how does Cortisol work in relation to stress? Cortisol is a hormone, produced by the adrenal glands (the little hats on top of our kidneys) and causes you to respond to physical and emotional stress. Creatine Kinase, on the other hand, responds to our body's response to exercise and sports; another form of stress.

Our response to stress is designed for acute situations, such as fleeing from a predator that is hunting us. You can compare your physical reaction of fleeing from a predator with the stress that arises at work, from emotions in relationships, or from exercising too hard. However, the stress hormones are designed to only work for a short time, in the case of a sudden attack by a predator. Only when stress is of a longer duration do problems arise and your health takes a serious hit.

How does Cortisol work?

Cortisol is an important hormone for both men and women. Many think we are better off without cortisol, but too little cortisol causes other health problems. Your cortisol levels follow a sort of rhythm. When you get up in the morning, your levels should be at their highest. In the course of the day, it drops again. The lowest point is around midnight, or 2 hours after you fall asleep. Cortisol is best known for the "fight or flight" response it causes, it comes in handy in very stressful situations, providing the extra energy you need.

How does Creatine Kinase work?

Creatine Kinase (CK) is an enzyme that rises with muscle damage. This value shows how our body reacts to heavy exertion and intensive training. It peaks about 2 to 4 days after the effort and then drops back to normal. A chronic increase of CK usually leads to muscle pain, weakening and injuries. Not ideal for top performances.

CK creatine kinase dashboard

Creatine kinase CK dashboard insidetracker

Here's what you can do about it:


Everyone has a way of meditating that best suits them, but spending time with yourself, to reflect is in many cases very useful. Even something as simple as ignoring all social media for a while works well and can be seen as a form of meditation for someone who is always busy.

Engage in less tiring activitiesweg-met-stress-meditatie

Through activities such as yoga, swimming and long walks, you can significantly lower your cortisol and stress levels.

More sleep

We often don't allow ourselves to rest and joke that "we'll have plenty of sleep when we're dead." But in reality, our bodies take a beating from the stress we incur from poor sleep habits. Getting enough sleep (>6 hours a night) is essential for the body to recover and stay in shape.

Physical versus emotional stress

It is very important to distinguish between the two, especially if you are training for an important event.

Physical stress, without the presence of emotional stress, looks like this:

  • Normal cortisol
  • High creatine kinase

With emotional stress we often see the opposite:

  • High cortisol
  • Low creatine kinase

What difference does it make?

It's important to know how your body handles stress. Many think they are suffering from adrenal exhaustion or high cortisol levels, when they could also be suffering from chronic CK elevation or low iron, B12 or vitamin D levels. This is why a blood test is so important.

If you start using supplements for a problem you don't have, it won't solve anything and may even cause other problems.

On the other hand, people often have no idea that the stress they have can also be caused by circumstances, such as your latest post on social media, or watching the news. The body can also react to this kind of stress by increasing cortisol and maybe even by showing strange glucose levels. Some individuals continue to bottle everything up and blame themselves. They do not realize what is causing the problem and continue to deny the actual problem.

Chronically elevated Cortisol can lead to problems with weight, the immune system and chronic illnesses.Chronically elevated Creatine Kinase can lead to weakening of muscles, injuries and decreasing fitness.

Check how healthy you are inside


About the author
Ellen is the founder of Blood Values Test. She gained her experience with health examinations for companies, schools and government institutions at HumanCapitalCare arbo- en gezondheidsdienst. In 2009 she became director of Diagnostics Netherlands, a collaboration between all major general practitioners laboratories in the Netherlands. At the U- Diagnostics laboratory in Utrecht, she was responsible for blood testing at GP surgeries. Until she founded Blood Values Test for individuals in 2013.
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