3 Tips to Pole Injury Free After Lockdown

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Lockdown is over! Well, sort of… At least pole studios are finally allowed to open here in Oz so yay!

I know y’all are mad keen to go back to your beloved studios and dance your little hearts out. However, we must not forget it has indeed been about 3 months since you’ve poled and you’re bound to have lost some pole conditioning!

Don’t worry, that’s all very normal and here’re 3 tips to help you ace your glorious return to pole, injury free.

1. Grip Strength

Whilst most pole dancers know to expect a loss in shoulder and core strength and therefore will struggle a bit with their tricks after time away from pole, very few give their grip strength any thoughts. Your pole grip is a very specific strength, unless you have kept poling at home or have otherwise kept up specific training for it during lockdown, you will have lost grip strength.

You’re likely to find it harder than you can remember to spin, to climb, and to hold your tricks. 

Your most convenient compensation strategies for this would be to over-grip and squeeze the living daylight out of the pole and/or hitching your shoulders, both are undesirable so look out for them.

You have built up your grip strength before and you will build it up again. 3-4 weeks of regular use should get you back to where you were, until then, take it steady.

2. Awareness and Coordination

You are quite likely going to find your lines a little messy, your flow a little clunky, and your movement less coordinated or even clumsy when you go back to pole. Why? Because your neuromuscular connection, i.e. brain-body connection, has had a break as well and this too is absolutely normal.

But I’ve been doing Zoom classes throughout lockdown?

That is very good and it was truly great to see everyone got creative and pivoted so quickly, but movement off the pole is different to movement on the pole. Where movement is concerned, sport specific training is very important so don’t be surprised if you find yourself wondering which one is your left leg once upside down again.

Your brain and body will sync back up, but until then, it may not be the best time to tackle a heap of new tricks, instead, this is the perfect time to polish your basics.

3. The Right Mindset

This one is the bane of pole dancers and a big reason why some pole dancers have ongoing struggle with injuries. You see, we all have an image of ourselves in our minds, we can envision being the best pole dancer we can be, this is a good thing, as we fantasise being the next Miss Pole Dance Australia, it motivates us to train and drives us to grow!

The flip side is that this is often the reason why you’d neglect your physical limitations, ignore the fact that your movement capacity has reduced from taking time off, be that for leisure or rehab, and jump straight back into the deep end and bust out moves like there’s no tomorrow.

The principle for returning to pole injury free after time off is actually very simple – the longer the time off and the less you did during time off, the longer and more gradual the return will be. This is not an appealing prospect and hence often ignored because in our minds we are still as awesome as ever!

Doing too much too soon after doing too little for too long brings regrettable consequences.

Say that with me.

Doing too much too soon after doing too little for too long brings regrettable consequences.

This is a major reason why some pole dancers seem to be “always injured”, they are not really getting injured again and again, rather, they have never returned to pole properly in the first place.

And this is completely avoidable.

Knowing how your movement will be affected by time off, respecting the normal physiological changes in your body, and setting the right expectations are the keys to return to pole injury free and avoid the regrettable consequences brought about by a mismatch of your mental image and your physical reality.

Bonus Tips

I’m a pole instructor and I’ve been teaching online, do these apply to me?

Fear not you lovely pole instructors, I haven’t forgotten about you! Here’re some bonus tips for you.

If you have been able to stay on the pole throughout lockdown, you would certainly have less catching up to do. Whilst that is good news for you, the majority of your students will be in a different boat. I highly encourage you to think about how you’d structure your lessons based on the tips above to help your students return to pole injury free. For example, you might consider teaching everyone “one level down” in the first term back.

What I would suggest for you to think about for yourself is the weekly volume of pole you’ve been doing during lockdown compared to your pre-lockdown schedule.

Before lockdown, you’d have a full timetable of classes, privates, pole jams, performances, and for many also comp training, all these got cancelled except for online classes, which means even for those with less catching up to do, you will almost certainly have lost your peak fitness or what I like to call “show fitness” during this time!

You too will get this back and the same principle applies, so gradually ramp up your weekly total volume of pole and be prepared to give yourself plenty of time to do this as that peak margin is easy to lose, slow to get, and hard to keep, allow at least 6-8 weeks and more if necessary.

As studios reopen I anticipate plenty of classes will be put on to accommodate every returning student seeing as class size needs to be small in compliance with social distancing measures. This along with the necessity for studios to generate much-needed revenue mean that your weekly total volume of pole is almost guaranteed to spike, and doing much more too soon after doing less for a while can also bring about undesirable consequences so be sure to keep that in mind and make smart decisions.

3 months off pole is a long time so every pole dancer needs to take things gradually. With the right mindset, a healthy respect for your physiology, and a gradual approach, you can return to pole injury free and it will be glorious indeed.

’Til next time, Be Free In Your Movement™.

B. Phty
This information is not medical advice. Got health concerns? Consult a real-life health professional.
Views are my own

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Selina Asirus Tannenberg. Voice Physio


Selina Tannenberg is a Meanjin (Brisbane)-based Physiotherapist, Singer, Composer. She believes a Strong, Limber and Fit body is an under-utilised key to enhancing Vocal Efficiency and Performance so has created Voice Physio to help Singers build Strong Bodies for Singing! She publishes music under her nom de plume, Asirus, and has a pet dragon named Sk’on.

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