“No pain, no gain” is a BIG FAT LIE
We tell ourselves that nothing good comes without hard wor. We mutter “no pain, no gain” and soldier on with our pole workouts, ignoring our bodies’ clear signals that it. needs. to. stop. But then again, if we stopped at every bruise or friction burn, we’d never get anything accomplished! As pole dancers and athletes, we pride ourselves in our ability to work through pain or even justify it as a badge of honor. So how do you tell the difference between normal discomfort, and real-for-sure pain? It’s not always easy.
Pain is your body’s first warning that something isn’t right. It often comes on quickly — a sharp pain in your rhomboids when you invert, or an aching wrist in bracket holds. These sharp warnings get your attention, which is exactly what they’re supposed to do. If you continue training in the same manner, for the same duration and intensity, you can aggravate minor injuries until they become major ones. I know this first-hand … and I can tell you it’s not worth it.
Regular ol’ exercise-related discomfort can manifest itself in muscle soreness or fatigue. It’s unpleasant, but it’s normal.
Slow, steady progression is the key to avoiding many chronic injuries. I cringe when I see videos from brand-new dancers who are flinging themselves into inversions or attempting moves that are clearly above their fitness, strength, and conditioning levels. Or I’ll read a post from a dancer asking how to get around an injury, how to keep going rather than scaling things back in order to recover. Your body is a magnificent thing, and it can only take care of you if you take care of it.
Women’s Health magazine lists the following signs that your workout is too intense (followed by my notes on how they relate to pole dancing):
- You have to “cheat” — if you compromise technique for the sake of “getting” a move, you’re not really getting it.
- Your joints are sore — sore muscles often fall under the umbrella of discomfort, and are, for the most part, normal. Sore joints can mean you’re using poor technique, or that you’re simply asking your body to do too much, too soon.
- You increase weight quickly — in the case of pole dancing, it’s that you progress through the levels so quickly that you don’t give your body a chance to acclimate and grow stronger.
- You train every day — this isn’t necessarily a horrible thing … but there’s nothing good to be gained from training shoulder mounts, or handsprings, or reverse grabs, or really any move, for hours at a time, and for days on end, because you’re so eager to be able to do one. Don’t scoff, I know dancers who have done exactly this. The key is to work different muscle groups from day to day. It’s OK to work out every day, if you vary what you’re doing and if you give yourself a couple of light days in there. A brisk walk or bike ride is still a workout!
So the next time you’re training and you think to yourself “no pain, no gain,” think about what you could be doing to your body!