Pole Fitness is a highly physical sport where all major muscle groups are used to move the entire body up and around the pole. While often exposing the joints to stresses cannot be avoided, sore elbows, swollen wrists and painful shoulders should not be a regular component of Pole training.
Generally, overuse, lack of strength, and improper body positioning are the main causes of injuries and discomforts amongst vertical gymnasts, with wrist strain, carpal tunnel and rotator cuff injuries being the most common major injuries related to Pole. When landing on the feet from inversions, lack of control and core strength can also cause back problems and injured ankles.
There are many ways to avoid or minimize Pole injuries, such as warming up and cooling down the muscles, using proper form and technique, balancing overall muscle strength and flexibility, and having adequate rest and nutrition between workouts.
Cold muscles will increase the risks of potential injuries so always make sure to include an 8-10 minute warm up in your training sessions. Warming up also has many other benefits, such as mental and physical preparation for the workout, improving nerve conductivity that will achieve better training results. Cooling down and stretching after Pole will help you recover from the workout and prevent injuries by returning the muscles to their normal resting length and improving joint flexibility (tight muscles can tear more easily).
Proper body positioning, technique and muscle recruitment will not only make Pole exercises and moves safer and pain-free, but also more graceful and easier to perform.
It is VERY important to achieve optimum strength and flexibility balance between all muscles and joints of the body. Since Pole exercises are usually easier to perform on the most dominant side of the body, there is always a tendency to focus practice on that side exclusively. However, this will create muscular imbalances that can have serious adverse effects in one’s overall health and cause injuries. Always exercise on both sides of the body to allow rest and ensure proper muscular balance.
Many vertical gymnasts display a tremendous desire to quickly excel at Pole, and at times, it is found to be addictive. Pole should be treated as a whole body-weight training exercise, where a period of 48 hours between workouts is generally required to achieve positive adaptations in the neuromuscular system and progressive improvements in strength and endurance. As a result, it is recommended to take a day of rest between intense Pole training sessions.
Pole Fitness is a very enjoyable, highly physical and energy demanding activity, thus a possible cause of overtraining. Having quality foods and a balanced diet that will nurture exhausted muscles and bones back to training form is fundamental to be able to learn, perform and become more skillful at Pole.
Above all, the human body will always allow us to challenge ourselves smart, by signaling if we are doing something wrong (as pain), to slow down, or simply to STOP. It is our choice to pay attention and listen, correct our technique, or take the day off. One way or another, if we ignore the “red flags” our bodies will inevitably make us stop and shut us down...often by means of injury! Know your limits and train “with” your body, not against it.
Thank you for reading ~ GVE