Updated: Aug 19, 2021
The Recovery Series - Part 1
May 3rd, 2020
Believe it or not, rest and recovery play the most important role in any sport and this is no exception when it comes to pole. But it usually seems that rest is often our most neglected part of training. We sometimes get so excited and focus too hard on nailing that trick or polishing our next comp routine that we sort of just overdo it and don’t allow our bodies to recover in the right way. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s time to prioritise rest!
“Take the time to rest in order to get stronger”
Yes! You read that correctly. You may already know that when we exercise, the stress of the workout actually weakens our muscles in order to make them eventually stronger. Between training sessions our bodies are going through a growth and adaptation period in which the muscles are healing and growing from the effects of training. This rest is what allows our bodies to get stronger and fitter.
The Muscle Nitty Gritty
During a training session our muscles become deplete of energy and fluid, resulting in their breakdown through a process of muscle fibre micro tearing. This can present itself as muscle soreness one to two days later and is commonly known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Those small muscle micro-tears signal the start of a healing response in which there is an influx of good inflammatory cells and nutrients that begin the synthesising process. This allows the fibres to heal even stronger and bigger than they were before the exercise.
The recovery process can take anywhere between 24-48 hours, so the basic rule of thumb is to give yourself 24 to 48 hours of rest between training the same muscle groups. This is why gym-goers often rotate between body areas on alternate days to allow for sufficient recovery time between workouts. For pole this might mean focusing on tricks that require different muscle groups or general conditioning/floorwork instead on alternate days.
Our Nerves Get Tired Too!!
Ever practiced a trick so much that it actually looked worse by the time you finished your training session? Similar to our muscles, our nerves fatigue too. These little guys are responsible for the sending of messages between the brain and the body at rapid speed and co-ordinating our movements. When we push through neural fatigue and repeat the same poor quality movements time and time again, these poor quality movements stick and this becomes our default! These movements become embedded in our brain as a neurotag (fancy name for a movement pattern) and are called upon every time we go to do that movement.
It’s the same as when you try to serve in tennis or practise piano over and over again and the poor patterning gets stuck in our brain. We definitely don’t want bad pole technique ingrained in our brain, so make sure you notice when your movement quality is starting to fade during training and give your nerves the rest they so desperately need.
‘If your body tells you it needs a break, listen to it’
Quite simply don’t forget to use your noggin’ and make do with common sense. If your schedule says it’s conditioning day and you’re struggling with normal movement such as dressing or using the stairs, then wait an extra day before working those muscle groups. By doing so you’ll allow yourself to train refreshed and get the most out of your workout.
Whatever your pole goal is, your training plan is not complete without scheduled rest. Professional athletes are not expected to train or complete at their highest level without rest days incorporated into their program – so neither should you! Here are a few ways rest can easily be implemented in your schedule:
Plan ahead – look ahead and actually schedule a rest day every two to three days
Write it down – actually write down a ‘day off’ into your calendar so you’re not tempted to train when you find yourself with some spare time
Treat yourself – turn your rest day into a reward for all the hard work that you have done. Maybe even treat yourself to a massage
Tell your instructor or partner – make yourself accountable by telling that person that will help you stick to your plans
Variety – vary the type of training load to work on different areas of your body. An exercise week for a intermediate/advanced level poler might look something like this:
Monday – tricks/combo
Tuesday – floorwork
Wednesday – rest
Thursday – conditioning
Friday – tricks/combo
Saturday – rest
Sunday – active recovery/flex
Try active rest/recovery – instead of working out, use that time to try an active recovery method. Book an appointment with yourself that involves stretching, foam rolling, meditation or even a quick nap.
When Things Go From Bad To Worse…
When our body doesn’t get the rest it needs, this can lead to the experience of overtraining. This is an umbrella term for a variety of symptoms such as a worsening of performance, psychological burn-out, loss of appetite, poor sleep, chronic fatigue and even injury. Overtraining can be nasty to overcome; the more you experience it, the more time required off. However, adequate rest during the week can prevent it from occurring. In addition, taking one to two weeks off from training over the year allows the body and mind an opportunity to rejuvenate and feel refreshed in the long run. I’ll explore the concept of load management in an upcoming blog and how to correctly track and prevent overload from occurring - keep your eyes peeled!
So, there you have it! A detailed overview on the importance of rest. Don’t forget now: train hard, but rest harder. Look out for part 2 of this blog which will delve into maximising recovery from pole using techniques such as hydration, nutrition, stretch, and massage to name a few!
After a tailored pole training program with planned rest & recovery?
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 then, train safe.
The Pole Physio
1. Bishop, P. A, Jones, E., and Woods, A. K. (2008). Recovery from training: a brief review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(3), 1015-1024.