This is an article published in Australian Pole Dancers Magazine about shoulder injuries, but it can be applied to most shoulder issues – written by Cameron Kealy
In the last issue of Australian Pole Dancers Magazine, I talked about a common tight muscle that you can apply pressure to help you loosen up your shoulder when warming up for pole. That muscle was the subscapularis muscle.
The subscapularis muscle is one of a group of muscle called the ‘rotator cuff’.
You may have heard of people having a “rotator cuff injury”. When they say this, they are not usually talking about the subscapularis muscle though. They are usually referring to another muscle in the rotator cuff group called the supraspinatus muscle.
The supraspinatus muscle is very important in the action of lifting your arm above your head.
Seeing as most pole dancing tricks require your arm to be lifted out from your side, you can imagine the difficulties a problem with it would cause in a pole dancer!
The most problematic part of this muscle is where its tendon inserts into your upper arm bone (humerus).
There’s not much space in this part of your shoulder, and so if this tendon is getting overworked by say, swinging around a pole, it can start to create issues.
The main one is in lifting your arm up over your head.
If it gets really inflamed or gets a little tear in it, you may get pain in this area when you lift your arm out to the side that goes away once you arm gets up near your head. Other times you get a pinching feeling in your shoulder on certain arm movements.
If you are having problems lifting your arm above your head, it can progressively get worse. So your best option is to go see your Osteopath, Physio or other healthcare professional to get it treated earlier rather than later so that it gets better – not worse and worse to the point that you can’t do pole anymore!
In the meantime, there is a quick and easy warm up you can do to free up your shoulder in this area, that some people find helpful.
Quick supraspinatus massage / warm up
Step 1 – Test how easily your arm lifts out to the side and up above your head
Step 2 – Find the bones at the point of your shoulder and let our fingers of your other hand rest just underneath these bones. Your top finger should still be just touching the bone at the point of your shoulder and the others sitting below it should just feel soft muscle tissue.
Step 3 – Let your fingers slide back one or two centimetres to the back side of your shoulder.
Step 4 – Putting a bit of pressure down through your fingers, do a massage stroke around your shoulder from back all the way around to the front. (It may be a bit sore if it is inflamed). Do this 3 times.
Step 5 – Retest lifting your arm out to the side above your head.
For some people this will temporarily loosen up the movement of lifting your arm above your head.
As always though, if you have a shoulder issue of any kind, get it properly diagnosed and treated by a professional. Good treatment helps you perform at your best at pole and prevents further injuries from happening.