Whether you are training in a studio or at home, it is essential that you incorporate a warm up routine into your poledance or floorwork session. An effective warm up will prepare the body for exercise, lubricate the joints to support mobility, and increase blood flow, bringing oxygen to the muscles.
When leading a warm up, your instructor should be able to offer movements that prepare the entire body, and also include exercises which target muscles and joints that are specific to the pole moves you will be working on. For example, extra hip stretches for a class working on split moves, or some added shoulder and upper back exercises to help you engage the correct muscles for deadlifts and ayeshas.
At home, this can be a little tricky. You may remember movements from a warm up in class, but without the instruction and guidance from a teacher, you may be tempted to skip over reps or rush your routine just to get on the pole sooner.
I’ve seen many dancers do this in practice time too. Walking in, getting changed and doing a few shoulder rolls and hip circles before jumping on the pole and pulling out a crazy combo. Nine out of ten times you could do this and be fine. But you increase your chance of injury by not preparing the muscles to engage in such vigorous activity.
When planning your home practice, make sure you have included time for an effective warm up and cool down. Both should take about 10-20 minutes, longer if you are adding conditioning exercises, or working on flexibility and foam rolling.
“The warm-up should be a combination of rhythmic exercise which begins to raise the heartrate and raise muscle temperature, and static stretching through a full range of motion. “ (DanceProject.ca)
Consider the muscle groups that will be active in the types of tricks you are training. Working on Jade Splits? be sure to warm up your hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Working on your Handspring? You will need to warm up your shoulders, back, forearms, and wrists.
When creating your own warm up, keep these points in mind:
Keep it Dynamic – you are aiming to increase blood flow and get your heart rate up. Don’t just sit in static stretches. Flow through the movement and explore your range of motion. Yoga flow can be a great way to get started.
Jump Around – Break up the kicks and stretches with some cardio, star jumps, burpees, mountain climbers, or just running on the spot. It will help you feel warm and support your stamina for those long pole routines.
Turn It Up – if you are lacking motivation for your warm up, put on some music that gets you moving. The hardest part is often getting started.
Make it Functional – consider the movements and tricks you want to train and ask, how can your warm up support these? Knee lifts and high kicks for hip mobility. Add a thera band and put in some resistance exercises to warm up your wrists, arms and shoulders.
Range of Motion – Explore the movements from all angles. Lay down on your back and do you leg kicks and extensions. Add a chest roll to your upper body movements, or pause in a pose and do some arm circles, and see how you can target and engage different muscles.
Coordination – remember, a warm up prepares your body for what it is about to do. Pole dancing requires lots of coordination and body awareness, a relationship between your mind and your body. Animal walks are a great way to get you brain in the right mindset for pole, offering exercises that alternate between both sides of the body.
Breath and Movement – elevatED Education talk a lot about how breath supports movement. There is no use increasing blood flow if your breath is shallow and not spreading oxygen around the body. If you have been to a yoga class before, you would have been instructed to pair your movements with your inhale and exhale. Try this in your own warm up, finding your own rhythm and breathing into a stretch.
On a final note, remember that during a warm up you also have a chance to check in with your body. Any injury or illness you have can often be recognized, and further injury prevented. It’s much safer to be alerted to a tight hamstring or unhappy hip flexor when you are still on the ground, rather than mid combo 2 metres up the pole!
Being a regular home poler, I found myself a consistent warm up routine that I have now recorded and can share with you.
If you are a subscriber to my newsletter you will also be granted access to my Dance Warm Up at the end of November, a fun way to freestyle around the pole before starting any big tricks. Great for some added cardio and to work on those staple pole moves – body rolls, hip circles and kicks.