Pole dancing is undoubtedly a fun exercise boasting great benefits for fitness, strength, muscle tone, flexibility and confidence. However, it is very closely related to aerial arts and gymnastics and therefore, regardless of the level you practice at, the demand on muscles and tendons is high.
When you place your muscles and tendons under strain, or contort your limbs into seemingly impossible positions is it to be expected that you will pull or tear a muscle or two, or can it be avoided?
Becky Campey, Teacher, Performer, Choreographer and the owner of Blush Dance UK is firm believer in straight forward good practice and listening to your body, when preventing sprains and strains. She has been kind enough to share some specific points and ways to prevent injuries in class or when practicing:
Warm up for your body
Always perform a thorough warm up, pre-stretches and limbering. Focus on the areas of your body which you will be using in your training/class as well as your niggle areas. If you are in class, your teacher will lead a warm up but make sure this is effective for you. Your teacher will not mind if you perform some extra stretches or warm up moves specific to your body.
Practice moves within your range
It is always exciting seeing a move you really want to try, often this happens in pole jam or class where there are more experienced dancers. However if you have not been shown a move by your teacher it is possible it is slightly out of your range. If you are unsure as to whether you are able to practice a move ask your teacher. They should be able to advise you on whether you are ready to attempt it, and if not, offer you an option which will help you build the strength and ability necessary to perform it.
Listen to your body
Ultimately your body will inform you when it has had enough, listen to your body when practicing and never practice a new or difficult move when you are tired, not focused or cold. It is important to push your body to achieve more, however there is a difference between pushing your body and pushing it over its capacity, and only you will know where this line lies.
The most common injuries we experience are sprains and a strains, but what is the difference?
A sprain is an injury to a ligament. A ligament is a thick, tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones
together. Ligaments hold your skeleton together in alignment. The ligaments are sprained due to either too much load being placed on them or being stretched too far from their original position. A common sprain is a twisted ankle, often you hear a ‘pop’ when a sprain occurs. Sprains are common in a pole class if:
- You perform a move which encourages you to stretch a ligament out of normal alignment, if the load is too much for the ligament to sustain properly it is possible you could stretch the ligament too far and cause a tear. (Often seen when dancers throw themselves into spins/inverts too fast)
- You slip/fall and your joint is pulled abruptly or too much load is placed on it. This could happen when falling from a move and a body part is caught/locked in a fixed position, or you land on your ankle and it rolls out or in awkwardly.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Muscles move your skeleton in an amazing variety of ways. When a muscle contracts it pulls on a tendon, which is in turn connected to your bone. A strain can either be a stretching or tear of the muscle or tendon. This may happen in a pole class if:
- If you are contracting a muscle whilst it is stretched/over stretched, such as performing a pull up/invert on the pole from a long arm position.
- You perform a move where you stretch a muscle too fast or force a stretched position on a muscle. For example, dropping into splits/stag position from the pole or into side box splits too fast.
- You over train a move, repetitive movement on one joint can cause stress on the muscles surrounding it, this may weaken a strong joint and therefore causing it to be less stable or less able to hold the same amount of load it could at the beginning of class.
What should I do if I do suffer an injury?
If you do unfortunately suffer an injury it is important to apply effective treatment to it quickly. To have the minimum recovery time possible, always seek physical therapy. Also, it is important to ice the muscle to reduce swelling and allow blood flow. Any rehab exercises will be beneficial to recovery as long as you don't put too much stress on the leg at first. The quicker you recover the faster you can be back on the pole. Please also see our article. How to treat a sprain or strain for more information on treatment and recovery times.
I hope you have found this article useful. If you have and are interested to hear about the second part of this topic, please sign up to the BLUSH newsletter via our website www.blushdance.com. I will post out the second half of the article on the newsletter along with other interesting performance, dancing, fitness and fabulosity articles, tips and advice.
Stay Fabulous and keep up the hard work... x
References and for further information:
Background sprain and strain information By Jonathan Cluett, M.D., About.com Guide
Sprained Ankle aaos.org
How Long Does a Hamstring Injury Take to Heal? GolfLink.com