Pole Pain

One of the things I’m asked most often is ‘Will the pain go away?’ This question can be applied to a wide range of moves and people of varying abilities. The great thing I can tell you, is that yes – the pain will go away. Let’s all be happy about that!

The bad news, is that it can take a while for the pain to go away. But let’s not focus on the negative!

Spurred on by one of my students and her amazingly funny videos of her swearing with pain after trying a move on the pole, I thought it’s time to give pain a thought. (And if we ask her nicely she might share some with us!)

Those Killer Moves


When I first tried my Pole Seat and Cross Knee Release I was black and blue! I had lines of bruises running down my legs. That was the moment when I had to come clean about my evening workouts. Relative to other moves, the pain for this one goes quite quickly. When you start working on moves from seats, your seats almost instantly get less painful as you’re focusing on something more difficult (and often more painful)

When it comes to pain on the skin, I think it’s best to push through as quick and as you safely can. When working on a Cross Ankle Release or Cross Knee Release, it’s best to drop back through these as quickly as possible, as long as you know you have a good, safe grip. While your in your seat – hold your hands at chest height and while squeezing your legs (depending on what move you’re trying) rock back as quickly as you can until you are in the correct position with your legs before letting go with your hands. If you do it quickly (and safely) you will be able to push through the pain. Think of ripping off a plaster – the quicker the better!

Knee Holds

I find that inverted knee holds ie Gemini / Marley give you less pain than more upright ones ie Knee Hold and Cupids. So my advice would be to work on the inverted moves first to start getting used to the pain behind the knee. You can also work on a side climb as well. With the Gemini / Marley you need to accept the pain. It is going to hurt but you need a strong knee grip in order to keep you on the pole. As soon as you loosen the grip, you will find yourself sliding. The pain for inverted moves like these goes away quite quicikly but you will need to power through.

When trying upright knee grips, make sure you don’t push yourself too hard. I would say that after three attempts, if they are painful, give them a rest. Quite often if you over use the back of your knee it can bruise badly and swell up. Take it slow. With your knee hold, you can also bruise the front of your knee. It’s really important to keep safe with this one and we don’t want you to slip and injure yourself. Again, I say limit it to three attempts at the most, until you feel stronger in the move and with less pain too.

Foot Pain

You’ll first start to get pain and burns on your feet when you start to climb and sit. This pain does goes away – yay!! I still notice that after 7 years, if I climb over and over again, my feet do go a bit red but there is no pain. (I mean teaching seats / climbs for 7 hours in a day.) With seats and climbs, try to rely on the strength of your legs and thighs in particular to keep you on the pole. If you use your legs more, you will not need to use your feet as much, which means less pain!

The most painful move I continue to work on is the Remi Pole Sit. Ouch, ouch, ouch. The reason this causes me so much pain is that you’re pushing against the bone. There’s not really too much you can do to fully get used to this one. Obvioulsy, the more you do it, the more you get use to it, and the more you will rely on your leg strength to grip you on rather than your foot to hold you there. I’m now at the point where I can hold the Remi position absolutely fine, but dropping back is where the pain never stops! When I film myself, I can never do this one without the glamorous pain face.


Fantastic news here… the pain of the Superman does go away!! When you first learn it, it’s likely that you will try to roll your top hip over while the upper part of the leg stays in contact with the pole, and for the most part, this is where the pain comes from. When you get more familiar with this move and stronger in general, you will be able to lift that top leg off the pole completely so that you don’t have to ‘roll’ through it – no more pain! 🙂

Shoulder Mounts

This is a truely painful move at first. When you try this in class, have a look around and you’ll notice everyone with bright red shoulders from trying this out. Also this is a tell-tale sign as to whether you are trying it on both sides or not 😉 My shoulders are full of knots and so each shoulder mount used to be like an evil massage, and then one day – no pain! It felt fantastic. I can now shoulder mount pain free over and over again… until I try my left side! I figure that the left side of my body is about a year or so behind the right side… it’ll catch up, and I’ll keep doing it until the pain goes. And then I’ll do it a whole load more!


In my opinion, frustration is the hardest pain to work through. Whether you are a beginner and can’t seem to do anything right, or you’re advanced and wondering why you can’t get that handspring despite months of trying, frustration can be all consuming. Shake it off and try something else. I have never ever nailed a move by being frustrated and going over and over it. Calm down and try something else. It’ll feel much better when you come back to it with a new attitude – believe you can do it!

Pole pain is something that we will all go through, but for the most part, it does go away. Try to breathe through the pain as much as you can, knowing that every time you try a move, the easier it’ll become and the more pain free too!

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Comments From the PoleFreaks Community:

  1. Thank you so much for this! Right now my biggest struggle is scorpio. I can do jade split just fine but that scorpio….damn

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