Okay so just incase you think I’m some sort of magician that can heal all injuries and wipe away all pole bruises, I’m not. Sadly.
However there are so many little niggles that we can get from pole that can turn into bigger issues, that if we get rid of, or control them before they get out of hand, we might stand a chance.
I’ve had a few pole related injuries (and a few clumsy injuries too) and I’d like to say that I’ve now got to the point where my injuries are no longer as frequent or as bad.
I know that if I was reading what someone else wrote, I probably wouldn’t think any of the advice applied to me, but hopefully I can help even just one of you. So while we are all different, here are just a few things that might make a different to you staying injury free.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Okay. This is step one. Always, always, always warm up. I know it can be boring and feels like the punishment before you get to swing around the pole, but it really is the best way to look after yourself.
I have the occasional person turn up late for class and only catch the end of the warm up giving me the ‘It’s okay – I ran here’ argument. Now unless you run like Phoebe from Friends, you really aren’t warming up your body enough – and even if you do! Also a slightly fast walk from the car park because you know you’ll be late, doesn’t count as a run.
If you’re poling at home make sure you warm up – I warm up normally and then I use the pole to warm up – body rolls, head rolls and hip and chest circles come much more naturally. Then you just have to add in some isolations to get you going.
Same for the cool down. Now I must admit that if anything has to go from my day, it will be the cool down – I cool down a few times over the course of a day with class and flexibility sessions, so I know that I will cool down at some point. But I always make sure that I don’t go from a vigorous workout to immediately lying on the floor.
I wish someone had told me to stretch out my back and shoulders when I first started to pole – I certainly would not be as stiff as I am now.
Do Not Work Through An Injury
Okay so there are some rare circumstances where a fitness / medical professional might tell you that the best way to manage your pain is to exercise. I’m not talking about those instances here. I’m talking about the ‘Oh I think I’ve pulled something and it really hurts’ situations.
I absolutely love it when people look after themselves. I would much rather someone take a night off class to rest an injury than turn up to ‘see how it goes’. If something is causing you pain, using it isn’t going to help. I know it sucks when you can’t do the thing that you want to do, but it’s going to suck even more if you hurt yourself more and can’t pole for even longer. Of course you can go along to class to watch 🙂
My partner is a sports rehabilitation specialist, among many other things. Every so often I’ll have a niggle that I’ll get him to look at. Occasionally he will give me the sad advice of ‘it’ll get better in 6 weeks – if you rest it’. Thanks.
I hate being given advice that comes from a loving (and knowledgeable) place, that I really don’t want to take. I’ve convinced myself that he must be wrong and have tried to rest (while of course still poling a little) and surprise, surprise, I can still feel the pain. So now I just make sure that I rest as much as I can and stop if anything hurts.
If you’re in class and something hurts, stop. There are so many other pole things that you can do, so there is no point in hurting yourself just for one move – it really isn’t worth it.
Find Where The Pain Came From
There are so many things in pole that can cause bruises, burning, aches or pains that sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what is really causing the pain. Quite often the pain comes after the event, rather hearing or feeling a ‘pop’ – of course that can happen to, but then I guess it’s more obvious!
If you’re new to pole, burning and bruises can often be from your body not quite being in the right place – or perhaps not yet having enough control. Your instructor should be able to give you advice to help.
For me, a lot of my pain comes from the shoulders, and yes I can trace it back to a twisted grip. I can say accusatory things about the twisted grip because this is the grip I was taught to use for everything inverted. I didn’t know any different or that it could specifically cause pain. So I make sure that the only twisted grips I teach are from handstands and reverse grabs, both in our advanced classes. I understand that it is ‘easier’ to do certain moves in a twisted grip but that is because you are hanging through your shoulder and not using your muscles properly.
I know now that if I’m doing a Phoenix (or at least trying to) I really don’t push it because I remember the pain it has caused me before. So for me, it really isn’t worth it. I am slowly getting stronger and can this move a lot more frequently now that I’m looking after myself.
Of course there are so many great transitions that do require a twisted grip, that I love, but I do make sure my students focus on nailing a true grip first.
Use Your Instructor
There are so many instructors out there and we all have slightly different ways of doing things. The one thing we do have in common is wanting to keep people safe.
If something doesn’t feel right, or if you don’t feel safe in a move let us know. We can’t feel your pain, so please let us know.
I suppose the other thing here I should say is to be wary of internet advice. You have no idea who this person half way across the world is, how qualified they are to say the things they are, or whether they just want to be a keyboard warrior. Some people will give you great advice but it may accidentally come across as an attack. Others will tell you that your move is amazing when they’re really worried that your arm is probably too bent, but don’t want to be rude.
As an instructor I feel it’s only my place to comment online if one of my students sends me a pic or vid of them practicing and asks for advice. I’d never give advice to someone online who’s posted their new move in a group, especially if they haven’t asked for it – it’s not my place and I don’t know their history… and they probably don’t want my (or anyone’s) random advice. So I’d encourage my students just to ask me. Of course you can take whoever’s advice you like but perhaps ask your instructor first. 🙂
Listen To Your Body
I could go on and on but I’ll end here. You only have one body, so keep it safe. If something doesn’t feel right, stop. Be stubborn. There are some moves that I just don’t do because it’s not worth the pain or injury to my body – Knee Hold for one, and that’s okay.
As much as I love pole, it’s not worth doing a move for the sake of a picture if you know it’s going to screw your body up.
If you look after yourself you’ll be able to pole for much, much longer – now that’s great motivation 😀