Sluggish days… Article No.4

Some days are indeed more sluggish than other days. You know that slow start when your plans don’t quite seem to slot in. I mean I had only been up for 2 hours.  Daily patterns change and this can affect one’s mood. How we wake up can make all the difference to the rest of the day. Did we sleep well? A host of reasons form a mixed bag of causes. And then of course there is no reason. We simply cannot put our finger on it. That was me today.

Our current Prime Minister (B.J) was on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. The photo showed him lifting a set of 10kg weights in each hand. Here’s a man who must have sluggish days. The photo was obviously posed  because it was difficult to say what he was trying to achieve holding his posture fully clothed. Mr Johnson having had Covid-19 now understands how importance excess weight loss in the light of those targeted by the virus. Weight loss of course is one of our goals in attending the gym.

Protecting joints

Today I wanted to make sense of why we might use weights to protect joints, ligaments and muscles. Plus I wanted to say something about music and how this helps us in the gym.

If this is the first post that you have downloaded, then please look at article no.1  that kicked off this series Getting back to being fit again.


Diary – Day 4 of week two

Well if you do feel sluggish just get out an exercise. It was now a week ago that I started this diary series and my fourth session at the gym. So far I had booked 2 sessions per week, each at 45 minutes. Not all of the equipment was out. Yesterday poor weather diminished my enthusiasm for a walk. Yep, walking is my other passion to keep fit. I like to mix it in with the gym. Cooped up inside the house did not help, adding to my feeling more sluggish than other days. Maybe that was it; I just needed to get out and exercise?

Seven people and I set about selecting various bits of kit. I beat one of the usual members to the knee extension exerciser. I weighed myself at the end of the session and found that I was 2 Kg lighter. That was something to feel good about. It’s that middle, the tummy that we men struggle with! However we all know, shedding the first Kg or pound or 2 is the easiest part. Going further and keeping the excessive weight off is tougher.

Tendonitis and more balancing

I picked up the 12 Kg weight and reckoned 10Kg would be best for a photo shop snap. Twelve would make the P.M look a bit strained. I worked my weights having done some stretches; the aforementioned leg extension being my first. I should explain weights here a bit more. 

Chistos Georghiou/

Now the illustration is not what I do, while others are far more into lifting weights. My source of weights are the dumbbell design and resistance machines. Hand held weights vary in size and so the advantage is that you can build slowly.

A rack of hand (dumbell) weights from 4Kg upwards

You can use different weights for each arm depending upon any previous injury. Selecting weights for different tasks is also important. You would not want to use the same weight for every exercise. The weights attached to a bar might be something I will drift to later but the sound of gasps and groans sound like banshees when the gym is in full flow. Beefy men and not so beefy women work out, often in pairs. The one problem with muscle building is that if you stop, that bulk goes back to the way it was. This means that weight lifting is a full time job. Most gym participants spend hours not short programmed periods. I rarely spend above an hour. My obsession was starting to grow aided by a reason to explore new ideas and look at the science behind some of the concepts.

Moving quickly between equipment was hampered by the washing and spraying, but that was a necessary protocol. I had wrestled with right arm tendonitis for some time. I had even had some injections. One injection is okay, but more than that, and without improvement, you have to look elsewhere.

Tablets are not the answer. In fact tablets really should be used as painkillers for acute problems and short periods only. I had been pleased that more consideration was being given to over he counter opioids mixed with ibuprofen and paracetamol. Codeine is addictive and produces constipation. This is not good for the bowels as it causes further dehydration in that department. 

Protecting the shoulder

Chad Evans/Jacksoville Orthopedic Centre

Tendons are placed at the ends of muscles, or they can run within a muscle to a lesser extent as in bands of thick ligamentous tissue. Key tendons are lined producing lubrication. The fluid formed can dry out. Tendons can split and swell and this causes pain. Ligaments can stretch and weaken then they can tear after they experience too much strain. Chad Evans lends a little tutorial with the all important diagram for shoulder anatomy which helps is to see what we are talking about.  

The muscles on the front of the arm bone (humerus) are balanced with a muscle at the back of the arm (the triceps not shown above). Exercising these muscles adds tone and provides stability around the shoulder joint. We aim to make these muscles firmer, but not to take on the appearance of the weight lifter. To prevent us damaging our ligaments and consequently our joints, we need to maintain the muscles in peak. condition. As far as treatment is concerned acupuncture is useful method to help pain. Ultrasound as a treatment can shift fluid. Extra corporeal shock wave (ECSWT) has been around for sometime and does the same thing. However managing tendon pain is a balance between rest and recovery then building strength equally between muscle groups. Taping can help to support muscles as they regain strength. 

Case History

My 92 year old father damaged both his rotator cuffs by lifting my ailing mother from her wheel chair. No amount of advice would stop him yanking her frame in and out of chairs. He later fell and that was it. No operation was possible as he was not suitable. He can no longer lift his arms above his head now. At this age we need all the mobility we can get. I delight in seeing octogenarians at the gym but so far have not seen nonagenarians. We don’t move very fast or exercise madly as we age.. I just like to see all groups with their baggy pants and T-shirts doing their best. Without doubt this group likes the tranquility of the gym early on and almost certainly have GP guidance

My own tendon troubles

My tendonitis, sometime called tenosynovitis, was around the location of my biceps. In 2018 it had reached a point where I was concerned. I started my gym programme of muscle balancing and using weights and my tendon pain has disappeared 100%. I fitted my weights into the programme before moving onto the cardio activity. Of course we need to say more about cardio, but there is plenty of time ahead for that in another diary post.

Music maestro

Milena Kiselena / Free icon

Of the 6 other users of my gym I recognised them all. When you have been going to a gym for several years and covering most of the days in a week, at some point overlap arises. We all have our AM sessions in common as well as our preference for certain days. While most patrons were of mature age, I noted the return of one of our younger users. She was clad in tightly hugging gym gear and struggling with her mobile phone. I guess if my own shape was better proportioned my day might have been more upbeat, but that tummy still persisted despite down 2Kg. Four months of no gym was telling! Younger and the sometimes not so young have their ears stuffed with headphones. This particular user was using bluetooth headphones and I think texting a bit…

The gym has a music system that tends to be on continuous loop. The rhythm is important and bumps along. Music is an aid. My 92 year old father would simply hate this because he calls it boomp-boomp music. The words are difficult to make out but given the fact we are moving to a rhythm, it’s good to pace ourselves. This music is perfect. If you don’t like it then go bluetooth which I am sure many do, that is if they are not googling or texting. 

So what’s the message?

We all have days that are more sluggish than others. The gym helps raise those feelings when you feel a bit down. My weight was down so that’s worth celebrating for one week’s effort. I could lift weights as easily as the Prime Minister; a big plus. It was good to be with like minded people, and I don’t mean the PM. My shoulder was still comfortable and when I arrived home my pulse 68. Will it drop further?

Next week  – I would start 15 minutes later, have 60 minutes instead of 45 minutes. Plus I was going up to three times a week. This would mean my planning could be more effective. Stay with me and look in for article no.5.

A word of warning click here

You can read more about me by clicking the link here 

Thanks for reading my article ‘Some days are more sluggish than others’. This is a series on using the gym and considering health issues in older patrons. 

Published by Busypencilcase Reflective Communications under Consultingfootpain.

August 2020

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