Dancers are athletes. Elite pole dancers are some of the most well-conditioned athletes out there. While dancing, pole dancing in particular, is often not considered a legitimate sport there are certain risks of injury to its participants. Common injuries include strains and sprains common to many sports. There are also a few that are pretty unique to pole including carpet burn, bruising in interesting areas that are not easily explainable. Head injuries from hitting the pole or the floor. Some of the tricks we do have names that describe the discomfort pretty vividly: the death drop, nose breaker, or the super pain.
Most of pole injuries are minor. Inconveniencing, obnoxious, and a bother, but relatively minor.
Another common injury are shoulder injuries. The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body it is a delicate joint supported by a lot of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. While it is extremely strong it is also prone to injury if not protected.
Almost all pole tricks, from the most basic spins to more advanced tricks like shoulder inversions involve the shoulder in some manner or another. Which is why protecting shoulder health is of utmost importance to pole dancers.
Here are some ways to protect your shoulder health:
Keep your shoulders engaged and pulled down and back during your pole work out, done just drop into a trick or jump into one without ensuring your shoulders are activated. This is why instructors constantly remind students to pull their shoulders down and back or to focus on stick out their chests. Even when doing basic firemen spins keeping the shoulders engaged is a good habit to establish so it is automatic when more advanced tricks are taught.
Practice good posture:
Even in day to day life that is not pole related keeping good posture helps develop muscle memory for engaged shoulders.
Warm up properly:
Cold joints and muscles are a recipe for injury. Muscles warm up relatively quickly but ligaments and tendons so not have a lot of blood flow meaning that they take more time to properly warm up is not to be under-rated. A good warm up should raise the bodies core temperature 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit and takes around 10 minutes.
Listen to your instructor:
Bad form is an effective way to get injured. If your instructor corrects your technique or form listen and do what he or she says. Breaking bad habits is extremely hard. It is much better to learn it properly and safely the first time.
Listen to your body:
Pain is the body’s way of communicating something is not right, if it hurts, stop. Maybe it is something you are doing wrong, maybe it is overuse. Listen and respect your body. Refusing to do so will most likely result in more serious injury. This includes over use. Overuse injuries are extremely common and can be more of a nuisance or they can be pretty serious. The old saying holds true: “A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
When working with pole dancers coming back from an injury, I have learned that most of their injuries did not occur when executing one of their hardest tricks or skills, often the injury occurs when doing on of his or her basic skills that she was not paying attention to her form or engagement- leading to an injury.
Shoulder injuries are some of the most common kinds of injury to impact pole dancers. There are a lot of tricks that do put a lot of stress on the shoulder so using proper form, proper preparation (warm up and strengthening), good instruction, and paying attention to one’s body can all help prevent a shoulder injury. Nothing is a guarantee though. So if you find yourself hurt, stop what you are doing and seek medical attention.