Phoenix

5o Shades of Pain

Jul 30, 2012
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50 Shades of Pain

Pain is pain, right? Wrong!  Pain can come in a variety of situations, can feel very different and can be slight or severe.  One person’s experience of pain is often very different from another’s.  There are many factors that affect how a person experiences and reacts to pain ranging from their previous experiences of pain to their psychological state at the time they are suffering.

Different structures in the body cause different types of pain.  For example, pain of a muscular origin will behave in a fairly predictable way.  We are all familiar with muscular pain after a long walk or a hard session at the gym and we know that the pain and stiffness is often worse the second day but that it is then likely to ease quickly after that.

Most people will be able to differentiate stomach ache from back pain and neck pain from a headache but there are some types of pain that are hard to tie down.  People often struggle to put their finger on exactly where the pain is in certain shoulder problems.  They know it hurts but can’t quite work out exactly where.

We have all bashed our funny bone at one time or another (which is actually our ulnar nerve, not a bone) and have therefore experienced radiating pain.  Once the nerve is irritated we experience pain, tingling and some numbness in the little and ring fingers despite the fact that nothing has happened to those fingers.  This is because the nerve impulses are interrupted at the elbow and the signals that arrive in the brain are interpreted as pain and altered sensation.

We can also experience referred pain from organs that are suffering in a completely different place to where the organ is.  People who have heart attacks experience pain in their left arm and their throat neither of which overlie the structure of the heart.  The gallbladder, which sits just underneath the liver, can refer pain to the tip of the right shoulder and problems with the function of the lower back and pelvis can be mistaken for knee pain or groin pain.

Often symptoms we see in the clinic are made up of several different aspects and types of pain.  For example, many people we see complaining of lower back pain find they have quite a sharp pain in a very specific area of their back but also have a constant ache in a larger, more diffuse area and stiffness when they try to move.  This may well be because the affected joint in the back is inflamed and therefore causes acute pain when the joint moves whilst the muscles surrounding the area are very tight from trying to protect the joint and cause the aching pain and stiffness.

By finding out which pain is which we can create a much better understanding of the problem and in doing so provide much better and accurately targeted treatment to get rid of the pain.  Once the pain is gone you are free to do … whatever you want with your body!

In Search of Fitness ….. TRX

Jul 5, 2012
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TRX

In Search of Fitness …. TRX
To be honest, I’d never heard of it either and I am told that TRX means Total Body Resistance eXercise (perhaps because its more snappy than TBRE)
I decided to attend the class on a Sunday morning at Phoenix Centre as I knew that the class sizes were small enough to get a good work out and large enough to hide behind others.  Patrizia was the instructor and she quickly got us warming up effectively with various movements and exercises.  After a few minutes of this I was about ready to head home as I realised that my usual running does not really provide a particularly rounded workout.
The TRX is effectively a scaffold with pairs of straps hanging off it.  Each strap has a loop on the end with padded handles.  The idea is that you use your own body weight and lift it to achieve the resistance required.  The good thing though is that by changing the angle or position of your body you can increase or decrease the weight you are lifting.
When I first saw the apparatus I struggled to think of many ways that I could suspend myself from the straps without causing myself some serious injuries but with clear instructions and demonstrations as we went along there were numerous exercise positions used.  These included holding the straps with one or both hands facing forwards, backwards and sideways as well as putting our feet in the straps and doing floor exercises.
Exercises that stand out in the mind are the bicep busting arm curls which involve holding the loops whilst facing the apparatus, leaning away from it and pulling your body upwards.  It feels quite good initially but by the end of the one minute set my biceps were burning with lactic acid.
Also, many people have experienced the Pilates ‘plank’ but imagine doing it with your feet suspended and hovering above the floor where they can swing from side to side!
After 45 minutes of high intensity exercise on the TRX with a period of circuit training in the middle to provide variation I was exhausted.  My muscles felt weak and my legs were most uncooperative when I asked them to allow me to stand up.  I felt muscle fatigue in muscles that I clearly hadn’t used in a very long time and I would happily have stayed lying on the floor for the rest of the day.  However Patrizia was handing around complimentary, freshly prepared protein shakes which would help to reduce the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and once I was walking around I began to feel much better, looser and a little smug for having done a really energetic, intense workout.
The next few days I felt some aching in my muscles but nothing too bad.  I found going up stairs felt like hard work but in a funny way it felt good, almost as if my muscles were responding to the workout and becoming fitter as a result.
I enjoyed the class and although it was hard work I did have the option to reduce the workload by altering my body position so I worked as hard as I wanted to.  The class had a really friendly feel and although music was played throughout it helped to keep the tempo of the exercise up rather than being uncomfortably loud.

I did not do this!

Would I do the class again?  Definitely, I feel like this class gives me a good, all round work out, much more than just running or cycling.  Impact is minimal and with guidance from an excellent instructor you know that nothing you do is dangerous.  The class was not daunting in any way and everyone was really friendly.  Anyone would be welcome regardless of their level of fitness or experience.
Booking can be done through the Phoenix Centre on (01403) 800321 and there are several TRX classes through the week to choose from (see www.phoenix-centre.com).  Give it a go – I might see you there.
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