We have all probably watched a pole dance video on YouTube and thought to ourselves, "That move will be mine!" Jenyne Butterfly and the Iguana Walk. Natasha Wang and the Fonji. There are so many advanced moves that brand new pole dancers are not ready to try. Sure, some of us may have the physical strength to muscle into a move, but pole dancing requires the use of a different set of muscles than most activities. And that's how we get hurt. So, we need to have patience and learn progression!
To avoid weekend warrior type injuries, you must understand the principle of progression (meaning the intensity and/or duration of any exercise should increase gradually). Here is the full definition of progression from About.com:
The Principle of Progression implies that there is an optimal level of overload that should be achieved, and an optimal time frame for this overload to occur. Overload should not be increased too slowly or improvement is unlikely. Overload that is increased too rapidly will result in injury or muscle damage. Exercising above the target zone is counterproductive and can be dangerous. For example, the weekend athlete who exercises vigorously only on weekends does not exercise often enough, and so violates the principle of progression.
The Principle of Progression also makes us realize the need for proper rest and recovery. Continual stress on the body and constant overload with result in exhaustion and injury. You should not (and cannot) train hard all the time. Doing so will lead to over training and a great deal of physical and psychological damage will result.
For pole dancers, this means we should be able to do pole-ups (sometimes called v-ups) -- kind of like pull-ups on the side and back of the pole before we climb. We should be able to climb, hold a sit easily, and be able to hold an inverted crucifix from a handstand before we do chopper or invert. We should be able to invert safely and properly before we attempt advanced tricks like a Jade Split. We should have mastered advanced tricks before we try the extreme tricks like the Iguana Walk.
Don't forget to schedule some rest and relaxation time in there. Yes, we love pole and want to train five, six, seven days a week sometimes, but we need to let our bodies recover. Yoga is great for those days you aren't training in the gym or on the pole. Plus it helps with your flexibility, which can be an issue as you're building all of those pole-worthy muscles!
So be patient with yourself as you are beginning your pole journey (or are looking to advance your skills). Keep in mind that following the right path will keep you from painful injuries down the road. Tell us about your pole progression plan! Do you have some tricks to which you are building?
Photo credit: Doug Korb and Bel Jeremiah of Twirly Girls Pole Fitness and Twirly Tuff Boot Camp (Liquidpulp Photography)