This is an article published in Australian Pole Dancers Magazine about shoulder injuries – written by Cameron Kealy
Shoulders take a hammering in pole dancers. From twisted grip handsprings in advanced dancers to beginners putting weight through shoulders which have never lifted anything heavier than a hairdryer before, there’s a lot of opportunity for dancers to leave your shoulders a bit overstrained.
Most of the time with the proper conditioning and teaching, injuries are avoided, but every once in a while, a niggle or pain can pop up that starts to get in the way of what you want to do most – more pole dancing!
So whether you’re a beginner or training to be the new Miss Pole Australia, here’s the top 3 tips for pains or niggles in one (or both) of your shoulders:
Tip 1. Get professional advice and treatment
So many people come in to get treated after putting up for a pain for weeks or even months. The quickest way to fix an injury is to get treatment on it early and manage it to prevent re-injury.
If your shoulder is giving you pain, it’s your body’s way of slapping you across the face with a cold fish and warning you that something is wrong. Listen to it.
If it’s a ‘bad pain’ or a pain that keeps reoccurring, go see an osteopath, physio or sports doctor and find out if it needs treatment or management of some kind. This is the fastest way to get you dancing at your best. Pains and niggles will eventually start to detract from your performance and may lead to more serious injuries.
Constantly trying to just dance through pain or discomfort is asking for trouble.
Go make an appointment. Take the advice of an old Nike t-shirt and just do it.
Tip 2. Warm up when training
Hardly a ground breaking idea I know, but you’d be amazed how many injuries happen when people are just mucking around outside of normal classes without warming up. In a class, your warm up is part normal routine, but outside of classes is where problems often happen.
So if you’ve got a niggle in your shoulder, don’t start showing off to your friends before class or skip your warm up when you’re practicing by yourself because you ‘can’t be bothered’ and your teacher isn’t there to make you do it.
Without warming up, your body is at its most fragile and if there’s a tiny injury already in there, you’re greatly increasing the chance of making it much worse by attempting tricks without doing it.
It gets the blood going to your shoulder, increases flexibility and warming up properly alone can clear up a lot of small niggles and get you dancing freely.
Tip 3. Maximise your shoulder warm up
Ok, now we’re getting into the cool stuff. (Yes I realise what I think is cool is not the same as you, but each to their own. I am after all an Osteopath.)
If you get to class a bit early, you can release trigger points in the muscles around your shoulder to increase its mobility. A lot of shoulder niggles and issues will ease if you can release your shoulder muscles in this way.
You can do this with a foam roller, spiky ball, trigger ball or just your plain old thumb or fingers. Talk to your healthcare professional or even a good personal trainer and find out what trigger points you can work into before class to help free up your shoulder.
I’d love to give you a recipe that would work for your shoulder, but the reality is body is different and will have tightened up in different areas. That’s why you go and see someone who’s trained in fixing them (refer to tip 1). Here’s one that may be helpful though:
Subscapularis muscle trigger point release
The subscapularis muscle is often tight in shoulder issues. Getting it to release off can free up movement in many cases.
You find it deep in the back of your armpit. It’s the red muscle in this picture:
On your sore shoulder press your thumb up and back deep into your armpit. There’s a muscle in there. It’s your subscapularis. It’s probably either kind or sore, or really sore. Either way, pushing on it is not something most sane people would usually do to themselves for the entertainment value.
Hold the pressure on the muscle there for about ONE MINUTE. If your thumb needs a break, have a rest for a few seconds so it feels better, and then keep going again. We’re looking for something deep in the back of your armpit to soften a bit with the pressure, or start to be a little less tender to press on.
Try moving your shoulder around before and after doing it and see if your particular shoulder issue feels improved. Some people will find it helps more than others. If it helps, use this as part of your ‘pre-warm up’. If it doesn’t, this may not be the right technique for you, but it’s worth trying to see if it does.
This is roughly where the subscapularis muscle is and where your thumb will push. It’s easier to release it with your arm down by your side like in the next picture though.
This is more what the release would look like, but you can’t see much, so that’s why we also have the first picture!
So in summary, shoulders are one of the key joints for any pole dancer so you have to look after them. Most of the time, if you warm up and don’t try to do new tricks too fast or too soon, your amazing body will just take care of the rest and you’ll be fine.
But if you are getting shoulder pain or niggles don’t ignore them. Get them sorted earlier on and keep yourself ‘poling’ at your best.