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Don’t Sweat It!

Updated: May 20, 2023

How to Help Pole Sweats & Hyperhidrosis

September 26th, 2020

Hands up if you’re a sweaty Betty on the pole!! 🙋🏻‍♀️🙋🏾‍♂️ Personally I am a HUGE sweater and find myself either cleaning the pole or re-gripping after most pole tricks.

However, today’s blog will not focus on the gazillion different pole grip aids out there to manage sweaty palms and the challenge of a slippery pole. There’s enough of these blogs out there already!

Instead today we will briefly focus on why some of us sweat more than others and different ways to manage the sweat. This blog will also focus on what I call next level sweating or excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis). Believe it or not, excessive sweating is a medical condition and we will dive into this sweaty mess head first. For some of you this is a significant problem to the point where it limits your ability to pole dance properly and there is very little information about it currently available online. Which is where this awesome blog comes in!... (humming superman theme song in my head).

Let’s go!

Why do we Sweat?

Understanding why we sweat will help keep the rest of the blog in perspective, because our bodies do sweat for a reason. And that reason is because sweat helps to cool down the body as the core temperature is rising during exercise. Make’s sense right?

However there are a few other reasons why we get a case of sweaty hands including stress, anxiety and fear, particularly in front of a crowd. These emotions raise the heart rate which lead to a release in cortisol and adrenaline which triggers our glands to produce sweat. And naturally, hot weather and more intense exercise will lead to higher amounts of sweat. So it’s important to find what grip aid(s) work well for you, and unfortunately you might have to kiss a few frogs until you find your perfect grip.

Also working on mindfulness, and calming our fear and stress levels in challenging situations will also help. But easier said than done right?

What else can we use other than Grip Aid/Pole Cleaning to Improve our Grip?

  • Strength – you may have heard your instructor say that the stronger you get, the less you sweat. Well this is kind of true. You still sweat but you’re much stronger in your grip so you’re able to combat the effects of the sweat easier. SPOILER ALERT: Keep your eyes peeled as we will shortly cover some basic and advanced grip strengthening exercises to help to improve your pole!

  • Gloves/Sticky clothing – not the most sightly, but gloves are very effective at helping to improve grip via a patent stick and can be useful for extra grip. However, wearing them often leads to uncontrollable sweating inside the gloves, and you may likely not be able to do anything if you take the gloves off! Gloves also limit spinning as they can potentially be too grippy. Other alternatives include sticky clothing such as sticky leggings or patent shoes to increase the grip available. These items reduce the amount of grip your hands are reduced to produce by increasing surface friction.

  • Avoid oil based lotions – Oily skin or oil products create a layer between the skin and the pole so avoid these products at all costs and aim to moisturise the day before a pole session. If you do have oily skin, showering or washing the hands with soap/detergent is an effective way to cut through the oil.

  • Diet – There are certain food types that reduce the likelihood of sweating including calcium rich foods (diary), magnesium/potassium rich foods (leafy greens, bananas, sweet potato), and anti-oxidants (blueberries, green tea).

  • Avoid alcohol and high sugar food the day before a pole session – whilst this doesn’t apply for everyone, higher than usual levels of alcohol in the body lead to an increase in temperature levels and our body sweats to compensate. Our insulin levels also drop with increases in sugar levels leading to hypoglycaemia which produces a sweating response. In addition, our body views alcohol and sugar as toxins so has to work harder to remove them from our system.

Hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating)

So there’s sweating, and then there’s SWEATING! There is a difference between the usual sweating following heavy exercise or performance that we all experience, and the excessive and uncontrollable sweating that causes significant problems including difficulties with gripping the pole altogether! This latter issue is often unprovoked and can occur without reason, usually affecting the hands and feet. This condition is a medical problem and is termed hyperhidrosis, affecting about 1-2% of the general population. It generally starts in childhood or adolescence, can even be inherited, and is more common in Japanese people.

The Medical Breakdown

Primary hyperhidrosis is thought to be related to overactivity of the thermoregulatory centre in the brain (the hypothalamus) and the signals are transmitted via the sympathetic nervous system to the sweat glands. It’s triggered by the same causes as normal sweating but to a much greater degree. There are also more uncommon potential (secondary) causes which can be more severe and require medical attention. These are mostly neurological conditions which affect the brain or nerves, but can include diabetes, obesity, menopause, thyroid problems or drugs (eg alcohol, caffeine, anti-depressants).

Primary hyperhidrosis generally starts in childhood and may persist lifelong or potentially improve with age. It tends to involve armpits, palms and the soles symmetrically and often the sweating reduces at night and disappears during sleep.

Secondary hyperhidrosis is much less common than primary hyperhidrosis, is more likely to be unilateral and asymmetrical and can occur at night or during sleep.

How do I get Diagnosed?

Well there is no specific test to confirm hyperhidrosis; a diagnosis is usually made clinically by your general practitioner. However, the GP may send for tests that may relate to a potential underlying cause of secondary hyperhidrosis such as diabetes/thyroid issues etc, which is why this condition requires medical input. The tests available should be discussed further in a session with a doctor.

Fix Me Please (Treatments for Hyperhidrosis)

If you’ve been diagnosed with hyperhidrosis and none of the initial treatment measures are working, you can look towards second line interventions. Some are most costly and invasive than others. See below for a brief outline:

  • Antiperspirants instead of deodorants - Antiperspirants such as Driclor/Carpe (aluminium chloride hexahydrate) contain 10-25% aluminium salts that have been shown to reduce sweating. There are also other topical agents which have been shown to be successful in reducing sweating, but these are worth discussing in greater detail with your doctor. Also, there are specific antiperspirant products available for different body parts such as your underarms, other skin folds, face, hands and feet that may require a prescription dependent on your location. They are best applied when the skin is dry, especially after a cool shower just before sleep. Chat to your local GP/pharmacist for further information.

  • Acupuncture – there is basically no evidence on the use of acupuncture in hyperhidrosis except for a handful of case studies that don’t really count because they are highly biased. However lack of evidence does not necessarily mean the treatment is ineffective, just that it hasn’t been tried and tested, and proved to be effective.  However if you’re at your wits ends it may be worth discussing this form of treatment with a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to see whether it may help you.

  • Iontophoresis - a common and effective treatment (with evidence) used for hyperhidrosis of the palms, soles and armpits. It involves the affected area being immersed in water and a gentle electrical current passed across the skin surface for 10–20 minutes. This is repeated daily for several weeks then less frequently as required. It may potentially cause some discomfort or irritation, requires a long-term commitment and is not always effective.

  • Botox - Injections of botulinum toxin are a possibility for treating hyperhidrosis affecting the armpits and possibly other parts of the body. The injections may reduce or stop sweating for three to six months. However I would encourage you to stay well and truly clear of the hands/feet and I warn caution for this form of treatment as it is a toxin injected into the body and that doesn’t come without potential negative side effects. This type of treatment requires detailed discussion with your doctor and potentially a specialist.

  • Surgery - Finally, surgery is another potential treatment strategy for overactive sweat glands in the armpits. The glands can be removed by several methods, usually under local anaesthetic, and these include sucking, cutting or scraping them out, thermolysis or laser (they all sound fairly intense right!). A sympathectomy is also a possibility – this involves division of the sympathetic spinal nerves by a chemical or surgical procedure. There are potential complications with all of these procedures and hyperhidrosis can recur in up to 15% of cases, so discussion with your doctor and surgeon about the pros and cons is needed for these.

So if you suffer with severe sweating, reach out to your doctor to determine the underlying cause, undergo tests as required and take the appropriate steps to improve your sweating using one or multiple treatment methods above.

Wanting tailored guidance and rehabilitation for your grip strength?

Online telehealth appointments can be booked with the Pole Physio via our ‘Book Online’ page that can be found here. Assessment and tailored rehabilitation are provided in accordance with best practice and evidence-based treatment to help you unleash your 'poletential'.

Until next time, train safe. 

The Pole Physio


Disclaimer: This information is not tailored to you as an individual and do not constitute as medical advice. If you have medical or injury concerns, then please individually consult with a medical professional.

If you wanted further information about grip aids, then check out these recent comprehensive reviews:


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