Spin Pole Sickness: How to avoid getting dizzy on a spinning pole

Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed on a spinning pole? Do you feel like you’re still spinning even though you’re no longer on the pole? Or do you even get nauseated?

Well, contrary to ‘muggle’ belief, have the pole spin is not the easy way out and comes with its own set of major challenges. Generally speaking, spin pole requires greater strength and control to maintain balance on this moving structure.

It’s easy to lose orientation when you’re spinning on a pole and it’s good to know that you’re not alone! This is a very common problem, leaving some people even feeling quite unwell.

So, in today’s blog we are tackling the reason why this occurs, along with some common helpful tips to combat the spinning pole dizzies!

So why do we get dizzy?

Firstly, it’s important to understand that spinning tolerance varies from poler to poler and from apparatus to apparatus. Some will pick up spinning pole and not think twice about dizziness whilst others will have something of a putrid time.

The inner ear provides our sense of balance by sending messages to the brain. Dizziness will occur when there is a mismatch of signals from the inner ear and brain. In our inner ear we have our semicircular canals which are lined with tiny hair cells and filled with endolymph fluid.

When we begin spinning, the endolymph fluid in the semicircular canals (inner ear) begins to move eventually catching up to the pace we are moving at. This movement of the fluid bends and stimulates the inner ear hair fibres which then notify the brain that we are spinning. Initially you may feel dizzy on the pole but this ideally should settle as the brain adjusts to this message.

When we stop spinning, this fluid is still moving within these canals (due to inertia), continuing to send sensory messages to the brain telling it we are still spinning even this is no longer the case. This occurs whilst our brain is receiving messages from other parts of our body such as our eyes telling us that we are no longer spinning. This explains why we can feel dizzy for quite a few seconds after stopping pole. So this mismatch of the vestibular system and the visual system confuses the brain further intensifies the sense of dizziness when we stop spinning.

Next level dizzy?

Now some polers may suffer from medical conditions such as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) and Meniere’s disease to name a few. These will cause significant levels of dizziness during day-to-day functions. During acute attacks of these conditions, we recommend for safety reasons not poling and seeking guidance of your medical professional.

Tips to improve your dizziness

Want to improve your spin tolerance? Then try out some of these helpful tips.

1. Take it slow – this sounds kind of obvious but spin pole can be a real beast that requires taming over time. Eventually you can spin as fast as your pole ideal, but start off keeping the movement slower than you initially planned and then you can practice speeding it up over time.

2. Don’t try to spot – for most people trying to keep your eye on the same spot on the wall across the room can actually cause more nausea. And this is simply because unlike dancers we are spinning at a speed that’s way too fast to spot for our muscles to keep up with.

3. Don’t look up – instead keep your eyes horizontal. This helps to keep the spinning around one axis instead which in theory makes it easier to overcome.

4. Use a mirror – orientating to your body in the mirror every two or three turns is a helpful way to rematch the visual and vestibular systems but don’t try to focus on it too hard because this could backfire and feel like spotting.

5. Relax your eyes – try not to look for anything in particular. In fact, relaxing your eyes will help to reduce their input and therefore the conflicting messages in your brain. This is the same sensation we experience when we are really tired and our eyes are ready for rest.

6. Rest between spins – Make sure you take ample time to rest between spins to let your body recover from the sensation.

7. Use a friend – have a buddy nearby that can slow you down if you feel you’re getting too fast of spin.

8. Spin in both directions – a bit of a strange one but the concept is if you spin both ways the endolymph fluid adjusts and the motion will balance itself out.

9. Take time with your transitions between tricks – when you’re on the pole it feels like you’re going 100 miles an hour so it can be tempting to rush through your combos. Instead slow it down! A slower transition will allow you to have a greater sense of control

10. Lean back, don’t cling – basic physics is the first thing we learn with spin pole. The closer your body is to the pole, the faster you will spin. So if you need to slow it down either lean away from the pole, or sticking your arm/leg out from the pole will help.

11. Spin in small doses - instead of training the same fast spin multiple times in a row, break up your training instead with some static combos or floor work which don’t require much spin.

12. Don’t push to the point of nausea or considerable dizziness – stop spinning before you get to this point. Otherwise your body will learn this response and associate it every time you go to spin. Develop a positive relationship with the spinning pole by stopping before you notice a sense of dizziness.

13. Less is more – slow and gradual exposure to spin is helpful. This may be less reps or even less movement within a trick (i.e one rotation of the pole instead of 2). Or you may set a timer for 5-10 seconds and gradually increase it over time as you’re able. Whatever it looks like for you, gradually build it up.

14. Chat to your doctor – if you experience motion sickness, it’s worthwhile chatting to doctor or your pharmacist about anti-emetic medications that can be taken to help. Ginger is always a helpful start for those with motion sickness.

Experiencing difficulty with spinning pole? Then touch base with our Physiotherapists.

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