Managing the ouch factor
Pole hurts, there’s no two sides to that story. But what if a few tips can make it hurt less? If you’d sign on for that, read on!
Twisting/pulling skin is one of the most painful parts of pole–so it stands to reason that if your skin twists less, a move will hurt less. And skin twists MUCH less over an engaged muscle. When you’re getting into position for a move that involves some twisting or pulling of skin–say a cross ankle release, inside leg hang, bicep hold–be sure you’re not just relying on your skin to hold you up. Engaging the proper muscles will create more grip with less skin movement, and that should feel a lot better.
Another way to avoid twisting or pulling is to get everything into a position that’s as close as possible to the final placement as possible. A good example of this is the cross ankle release. As your shoulders go down, your feet should come up while you still have your hands on the pole. Your body acts as a teeter-totter. This way, you don’t need to fully engage your legs and glutes until they’re pretty much where they need to be in terms of your final position … and because your hands are helping to hold your weight until the moment you release them, you don’t have the engage-then-twist pain that you would if you dropped back straight from a sit.
For leg hangs, muscle engagement is also super important. When you do an inside leg hang, do you get your leg into place and then just let it hold you? That makes my poor inner thigh hurt just thinking about it. Engage, engage, engage!
Bruising is another painful reality of pole. Bruises happen to everyone! But–if you are very careful about doing moves in a controlled manner, you are much less likely to bang into the pole when going into or coming out of a move. Think waaaaaaay back to your first fireman spin. Did you bruise your shin? You probably did, at least a little, because you probably weren’t in full control of your spin. But as you progressed, all that shin-banging most likely stopped. That’s because you learned to control your momentum and your body. The same learning progression applies to most moves. Doing something with control is *always* preferable to flinging yourself in and hoping for the best. When you’re learning inverted poses such as leg hangs or inverted crucifix, practicing them while lying on the floor can help prevent this, because you can build your muscle memory to mitigate banging. Another benefit: you learn exactly how and where to place the pole against your body while knowing you are 100% safe on the ground!
There are so many other ways to keep that pain level manageable. Hopefully these tips will help get your thinking started!