This entry is a continuation … I’d put it on hold to do my Pole Year in Review, but now it’s back! I hope you find it useful. 🙂
When you’re doing a lot of inverted work, you discover pretty quickly that 1) it gets tiring and 2) when your entire blood supply has been in your head for an extended period of time, you get lightheaded.
Here’s my suggestion — and it’s one that has worked for many of my students. When you’re working on certain inverted tricks, especially at first when you need to be able to adjust leg positions, feel around for your grip points, etc., it’s an AWESOME IDEA do the move from the floor. It’ll help you suss out positioning and get things hard-wired into your muscle memory BEFORE you need to have it be rock solid lest you fall onto your head. Wise, no?
A short list of things you can do from the floor, either from a prone position or from a forearm stand/handstand: basic invert, inverted V, an inverted crucifix, outside/inside leg hang, butterfly…the list could go on, but I think you get the point. You can do a lot from the floor!
Take the basic invert as an example. Lie on the floor next to the pole, with the pole at your armpit, which is where it should be when you begin inverting. Place your hands on the pole as they would be if you were standing–inside hand low, outside hand directly above. Now, use your core to lift your legs and shoot your hips toward the ceiling. If you’ve got enough core engagement you should have your hips well up in the air–your entire body should be basically parallel to the pole, with your head and shoulders on the ground. Now, gently catch the front of the pole with the calf of your outside leg, place your inside leg behind the pole, and grip. You can adjust your leg hold as necessary to feel secure but it should be very similar to your leg positioning in a standing crucifix (upright standing pose from climb). Now, release your core a bit and see if your legs will hold you up. Yes? Great! Do it again. And then do it again. And then do it again. Do it until it’s second nature to push your hips toward the ceiling and catch the pole with the calf of your outside leg.
Now do it from a handstand. You can walk yourself backward into a handstand on the pole. Stand facing away from the pole with your butt at the pole. Put your hands in front of you, close to your feet, and lift one leg behind you, resting your instep on the front of the pole. Slide that leg up and bring your other leg to the back of the pole. At this point your legs should be in invert/inverted crucifix/BAT position. Now you can check your positioning, grip, etc. with the safety of having your hands right there, no worries about slipping.
When you’re coming down from an inverted position, tuck your head and roll onto your shoulders. Once you’re confident in your leg hold, you can press out into a plank/pushup position from the pole and slide your legs down . . . but the tuck/roll is generally the safest and most easily controlled exit from an invert.
- Don’t do much handstand work if you’re on a thick mat. You can really strain your wrists.
- If you can’t hold yourself in a handstand, you may want to reconsider doing much inverted work until you have more confidence in your handstand. Sorry, but it’s true. You need to have good safety net when beginning work on any inverted move… and if you don’t trust your arms and shoulders and core to hold you in a handstand against the pole, one of your best safety nets becomes completely nonexistent, and that’s not good. I’m not saying you have to be able to do a freestanding press-up handstand, walk on your hands, or hold a handstand for minutes on end. But you need to know your arms aren’t going to buckle beneath you before you get a chance to gain control over your leg grip.
- This may go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. A handstand isn’t the appropriate emergency exit if you are sliding, and sliding fast, down the pole. In that case, tuck and roll!