Updated: Aug 20, 2021
The moment you enter the world of pole dancing, you start a new chapter of your life. Whether you’ve taken up pole for emotional self-empowerment, to become stronger as an individual or to get in touch with your sensual or sexual side, you very quickly learn that pole is not only a hobby but an incredible way of life. You are now supported by a worldwide sisterhood and brotherhood that share the common obsession and love for pole dancing and aerial arts.
And like the planets circling the sun, it often feels like our whole life revolves around pole. We form special connections and new friends through pole, build up superhuman bodies and undergo mental, emotional and physical transformation.
Not to mention our diaries suddenly go from being filled with lacklustre muggle activities to exploding with numerous pole and flexibility classes and not enough time in the week to fit them all in!
But my dear friends, pole is hard. Very HARD indeed.
Pushing through exhaustion to head to pole class is simply not good for your body. There can sometimes be too much of a good thing and there is usually one (if not many) points during a poler’s life that a break from pole is needed.
And I feel for the poler when this happens, because more often than not it’s heartbreaking for the poler and not their choice. Suddenly they feel like Drake dodging all them curveballs that life be throwing their way. I totally get it. Missing one class can get you down so missing months feels like the world is ending.
But I’m here to tell you that it will all be ok. And sometimes breaks need to happen for a reason.
Types of breaks from pole There are a few different reasons why we step away from pole at different points. Some of them are expected and others less so.
The expected breaks are usually because you have to sort out some personal shit and life has just become too overwhelming. Maybe work has become too hectic, you’re going on holiday, or you’re moving house? Whatever it is, you know you’ll be better off sorting your personal life out first and then getting back into the swing of things once it all settles.
Or perhaps it’s an expected (or unexpected) break due to pregnancy? Whilst it’s very possible to continue pole dancing the entire way through pregnancy, this isn’t for everyone. Pole dance is an intense form of exercise and should be gradually eased throughout the course of pregnancy to match the capabilities of the dancer. Returning to pole dancing postnatally should only occur once the obstetrician has provided clearance to return to exercise after the 6-week mark.
The unexpected breaks however are the ones that unfortunately hurt the soul the most. You might be making a ton of progress at pole and feeling really good, then suddenly you’re unwell or even injured. This is just the worst. Then the more time you spend off pole, the harder it is to get back and suddenly you’re in a cycle of feeling stuck on the couch onto your third bag of potato chips binge watching all seasons of the Kardashians. It can take a while to return from these breaks, but I promise you with the right guidance you will! As a rule of thumb, if you have an injury, don’t risk it. Get it assessed by a Physiotherapist and they can guide you on how to best manage it. Pushing yourself to get through a class isn’t worth it if it’s going to worsen your injury and keep you off the pole for another month. Take care of your body. We only have one of them!
And lastly, there’s the types of unexpected breaks that need to occur when you’re mentally feeling clouded or emotionally overwhelmed and taking yourself to pole isn’t helping but instead feeling like it’s hindering and causing further fragility. These types of breaks provide much needed breathing space for you to work on your state of mind and other potential road blocks for pole.
Taking a break WILL help you
I want to share with you this one piece of advice I have shared many a time over the past few months:
‘Taking a break from pole does not make you any less of a poler’
Take a breath and a moment to let that sink in. If this statement makes gives you the feels, it might be time to step back for a moment and ask yourself why you’re putting all this pressure on yourself to keep up with a certain schedule if your body isn’t emotionally, physically or mentally coping with that load.
Honestly, that sort of pressure is not helpful for your soul. So, if your body is feeling overwhelmed and is crying out for a break, it’s time take it. Drop your expectations of yourself, reduce your exercise workload and see how your body responds. It’s amazing how our bodies feel refreshed even with as little as a 1- to 2-week break from exercise. Before you know it, you’ll feel like taking on the world again!
Back to square one? Naturally one of the biggest concerns for polers is that taking time away from the pole will set you right back. I’m going to set the record straight first of all and say that this often isn’t the case.
Taking 1-2 weeks off from pole but continuing other forms of light exercise will help a process called supercompensation to occur. This process actually allows you to get stronger!! Mind blown right?! The right amount of rest = strength gains. Which is why I recommend a minimum of 2 days off pole per week and a whole week off every 8-12 weeks. Our body needs some time out to allow for it to catch up on all the exercise you put in and make those gainz! Learn more about rest and recovery in our blog here.
Sometimes we take a bit of a longer break. Maybe we are looking at 2-6 months. Have we lost some progress? Sure. But if we keep up some form of strength exercise off the pole we don’t lose too much. Stamina is usually the one to take the biggest hit, but within a few months you’ll be back to where you were.
What happens if you suddenly stop all forms of exercise for a few months? Well, our muscles will start to reduce in size, with it becoming visibly noticeable around the 4-6 weeks, our daily endurance reduces and our body will start to store energy a little differently around our bodies as fat deposits. But never fear! This is all reversible when your body is ready to return.
Returning to pole after a break Ready to get back into the swing of things? Let’s talk through some tips that will make your return successful!
Is it muscle memory or brain memory?
Ever returned back to pole after a long break and surprised yourself with just how much your body can still do?? Well, muscle memory is definitely a thing! Our muscle cells contain nuclei that are involved in regulating and controlling the activities of the cell (e.g. things like muscle growth and metabolism). And as the muscle fibres grow under the stress of exercise, more nuclei are added to the muscle. When an extended break is taken, those trained muscles will atrophy (get smaller), but those added nuclei will stay and the number will remain the same. And it's thought that these nuclei make it easier for the muscle to grow again once you return to pole. This whole process is known as the myonuclear domain hypothesis. So the more we pole, the more we develop our muscle with exercise and 'bank' muscle nuclei when we start out, the easier it is to regain lost fitness after a long periods of inactivity.
Furthermore you have previously worked hard on your pole skills and the nerve pathways in your brain (known as neurotags) are still there! So working on your straddle again will light up these pathways. And your body is able to relearn this movement so much quicker because the movement pattern is already wired to your body! So never fear – you haven’t lost your movements! They just need to be revisited!
Take it down a notch If you’re returning back to pole after a break of more than 4 weeks, I always recommend to return at least one level lower than where you left off. Usually even a few more levels if you’ve taken a longer break. Whilst your body may be able to perform those advanced moves still, your stamina and technique may only be at a beginner or intermediate level and require some work first before building backup. There is nothing wrong with going down a level for a month first to progress back to where you were. So place your pride to the side and use this time to work on your conditioning on both sides to keep them at the same level. This is a sure-fire way to keep yourself injury free on your return.
Talk to your studio manager and instructor Returning to pole after some time off can be an incredibly daunting task. Just remember the courage it took you to step foot through the studio’s doors to get yourself to class in the first place! You’re now returning with greater knowledge of what your body needs to be able to do. You got this boo! A great idea though is to talk to someone at your studio on how you’re feeling and they can guide you as to what class may be still suitable for you dependent on how long your break was. Not to mention they will help reassure you and remind you all of the reasons why pole is so damn awesome in the first place!
Conditioning is King/Queen If you’re planning on return back to pole, a good idea before you even step foot in the studio is to prepare your muscles for the onslaught with conditioning. This will help to reduce the stress on them when it comes time to start again. A good routine would include 20-30 minutes of conditioning off the pole x 3 times per week with cardio. If you have a pole at home, you can also start on some pole-specific conditioning like pull ups or knee tucks!
Create a schedule If you were finding yourself previously getting physically or emotionally burnt out then it’s time to address your expectations boo and create a realistic schedule and goals that you can keep to and that makes you feel good! This may be as simple as 1 pole class a week or 3-4 if that’s what suits you. But remember, pole is a HUGE part of your self-care and shouldn’t be making you stressed and anxious. If it is, then step back re-assess and adjust your schedule!
Slow and steady wins the race The last thing you want to do is return to pole and end up on another break because of injury! We know that increasing your exercise load too quickly can result in an injury, so don’t rush back into all of the classes out of excitement. Just take it easy to start and build yourself a regular routine over 6-8 weeks before pushing your limits.
So, if you’ve read this blog today and felt it hit a little close to home, I want you to know that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there before. You’re surrounded by an incredible community that will still be there for you when you’re ready to return to tackle the next chapter of your pole life!
Are you returning to pole after some time off and wanting a tailored off & on the pole conditioning program?
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