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Returning to Pole after Covid-19 Lockdown

Updated: May 20, 2023

June 13th, 2020

Being in lockdown as a pole dancer you’ve either been super lucky enough to have a pole set up at home or … have somehow incredibly survived without. But what we have learnt from the past few months is that us pole dancers are a resilient bunch.  This has been a time of incredible innovation through the use of online/zoom classes and studios offering dance, stretch & acro classes without a pole. And to be honest, I don’t think the pole world will ever be the same. For the better of course. It’s pretty cool that you can now virtually jump into someone’s class from the other side of the world!

And as each country is slowly outlining their plan to ease restrictions and return to outdoor and indoor sports, pole dancers around the globe are prepping their pleasers with glee and buying new workout gear in anticipation! 

However for those of us who have trained through iso without a pole (or maybe some of us who haven’t exercised at all), this little blog is a not so gentle reminder that practicing floor work for the past few months unfortunately doesn’t maintain pole fitness and strength. And whilst the next month brings the insanely exciting prospect of studios opening up, just remember you may not be ready to return to the trick level you were at before the studios closed.

“you may not be ready to return to the trick level you were at before the studios closed”

I know, I know, this is one of those sensible blogs that people don’t want to hear, like your mother yelling at you to not forget to wear a jacket as you walk out the door into a cold night. But let’s face it, by 2am you realise you’re freezing and she was right. So I’m here to save you from learning the lesson the hard way.  What’s the hard way, you ask? An injury that leaves you sidelined from pole for 3-6 months!!! Eeep! Ok so let’s not freak out yet, because the answer is quite simple: a carefully planned returned to pole will help you avoid soft tissue injuries and help keep you out of my office. Whilst floorwork may have helped you maintain general pole fitness, it is not specific enough to the strength and fitness demands of pole tricks, so we need to gradually ease ourselves back into these tricks when restrictions ease. 

And I totally get it, as a dancer myself, I am longing and craving for my studio to open and to get back to everything I was previously doing, but just like any other sport we can’t return back to our previous level and just expect our body to be fine.

Lessons to be learnt from non-aerial sports

Think I’m being a tad over-the-top? Unfortunately not. The media doesn’t tend to shine a

spotlight on the sport of pole dance, but other sports such as football (soccer) and Australian Football (AFL) have already shown a dramatic spike in soft tissue injuries. In fact injury rates in Germany’s football league have tripled since the return of matches on May 16 after they only spent three weeks preparing for the return of competition. Injuries pre-lockdown went from an average of 0.27 per game to 0.88 in the first round of competition with the following few weeks echoing similar results. Many players have reportedly felt like they needed to make up for lost time and do what they were doing before lockdown so have quite simply ‘overdone it’.

‘injuries have tripled in Germany’s soccer league since returning to competition’

And it’s not just in the elite athletes that we are noticing this spike. There has been a dramatic spike in presentation of injuries in the local community to Physiotherapists of the weekend warrior and junior athlete attempting to return to their previous level of exercise, whether it be at the gym or playing community sport. Being locked up has given us the exercise itch! Trust me, Physios are busy enough right now as it is, we want to keep you out of our clinics and on the pole where you belong.  

So how can we gradually return & avoid these injuries? Check out my top 7 tips below!

  1. Leave the pride at the studio door and don’t expect to start where you left off

  2. Play it smart - focus on a gentle and gradual increase in training load. If you were not poling during isolation start with 1-2 pole sessions per week & build from there

  3. Book a mix of floor/dance & trick classes so you are training different skill sets & strengths and not overloading the same muscles in your body every class

  4. Ensure you are recovering enough between sessions (check out my blog ‘Train Hard. Rest & Recover Even Harder’ to learn how)

  5. Allow 4-8 weeks to build back to your previous strength level and for your muscles and joints to get over the initial shock

  6. Complete an injury reduction program x 2-3 times per week to reduce the risk of an injury (see below)

  7. Listen to your body & be honest with yourself if you need to schedule in extra rest

Injury Reduction Programs

There are now a few freely available injury reduction programs that have been shown to decrease the number of hamstring, shoulder, knee, hip and ankle injuries. In fact some of these programs have been found to reduce the risk of ACL rupture by up to 50% and overall injury risk by 30%. Whilst these aren’t designed specifically for a pole artist in mind, there are some components that will translate to pole strength. 

Some of these free resources include:

  • Get Set app for Olympic Sports (cheerleading, artistic/rhythmic gymnastics & figure skating provide exercise options that are somewhat close to the required strength & demands of pole)

  • FIFA 11+ /FIFA 11+ S program

  • Prep to Play

  • Netball Knee program

However, the best form of injury reduction program is one that’s tailored to your body’s needs. Consult with your Physiotherapist or book in to consult with myself online to tailor a specific exercise program to address your body’s strength & mobility deficits.

So, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can just wing it and hop on the pole where you left off. Work on getting your body strong now and allow a couple of months to build back up. You’ll be back slaying your goals before you know it!

Need a plan to return back to pole safely?

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'.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them below.

Otherwise until our next blog, train safe!

The Pole Physio



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