Tagphysio

Cross Training For Aerial – Part 9 : HIIT

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and may well come to become your new fitness best friend.

I have previous watched a few HIIT classes at the gym, and had heard people rave about the benefits, but it wasn’t until it was endorsed by Dr. Jennifer Crane (who has collaborated with The Artist Athlete) that I decided to try it out. She is just laying on the floor lifting her arms, I previously thought. Boy was I wrong!

Why do people do HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training is where you set yourself a series of exercises with a short rest in between. For my program we do four exercises for 40 seconds each, with a 10 second rest in between, repeated 3 times. Yes, most of your workout is done just over 3 minutes! If you are super fit, do 6 sets! Add in a warm up, some focused body work and stretching and you can be done and dusted in 30 min or so.

This short session time is very appealing. For non-athletes, finding 30 minutes in your day, or even every second day, should not be that hard. Finding 3 min for a little heart rate burst (with a warm up first of course)  should be even easier! For aerialists and pole dancers, if you were to incorporate HIIT into your warm up, on your non-pole/aerial days, or use as part of your conditioning, you will reap the benefits in terms of stamina, agility, strength, and mobility gains.

Think of it as prehab: long enough to feel the burn and get things working, short enough to not reach failure so your form can stay strong for you to target the muscles that should be working. It’s amazing that such simple movements and exercises can be so challenging.

BUT, not all HIIT are made the same …

The four exercises in your sets should cover a whole body workout. Balance your sets to include both upper and lower body exercises as this will also help you give areas of your body a break to during the exercise. You should be focused on form, remembering cues about your abs, neck alignment, where to engage etc. It’s not about busting out as many as you can in 40 seconds, it’s about retraining your movement patterns to support safe and functional movement.

Dr. Jennifer Crane reiterated this idea of neural pathways during her HIIT coaching. It’s not just about your brain and muscles communicating about where they are in space and how to move. It’s about teaching the muscles to respond and keep the joints stable and safe. If you twist or are off balance, how do you ensure your stabilizing muscles will kick in and help and not just let your larger muscles try to grip? When some muscles are overworked and what should be their complimentary muscles are underdeveloped, injuries are likely to occur.

For example, the muscles in my lower back are currently a lot stronger than my abs. During planks and movements from this position I have tendency to arch, which continues to perpetuate this problem. There is usually a lot of core work involved in HIIT programs, and by slowing down and focusing on form, I can start to retrain my core to ensure my back is not taking all the load. This also helps my posture and conditions my abs to be able to support other movements, in the muggle world and the studio.

Need more convincing?

Train evenly – Pole dancers are always talking about the need to train both sides, and HIIT can support this as you work your whole body. This kind of balance will reduce your chance of injury and help you reach your goals as combos and tricks become easier on your goofy side.

Increase stamina – Find yourself exhausted after running your routine, or short of breath after a long combo? Many pole dancers and aerialists actually spend a lot of time in class standing around, listening to instructions or waiting for a turn. This down time is not useful and can actually let your muscles cool down too much between time spent in the air. Classes like this lack a cardio component and so when you go to run through your entire choreography, it’s exhausting! HIIT will get your heart rate up giving you a cardio workout along with your strength training. The 10 second rests are enough to catch your breath and reset for the next sequence, but you will be straight into the next exercise before you know it.

Coordination – Ever find yourself falling over as soon as you let go of the pole? Do you avoid adding dance and floor work to your routines because you feel off balance and uncoordinated?  By incorporating lateral movements (moving side to side), jumping, twisting, and functional movement patterns into your HIIT program, you will be training your brain and muscles to support yourself moving through these positions. Backward rolls, fish flops, stepping up from a lunge, and even pirouettes will suddenly become much cleaner and more achievable when your body is working as a whole.

On a final note, many HIIT programs can be done in your own home, no equipment necessary! So what are you waiting for? Feel free to email me if you have more questions!

If you already do HIIT, I’d love to hear about your favourite exercises and sets! Tag me on Instagram and  Facebook or send me a message with your tips!

 

Safety with Back Bends

Ask any pole dancer or aerialist about their goals and no doubt they include working on back flexibility. If they were a gymnast or ballerina as a child they may remember doing walk overs and wearing “foot-hats” and hope that their muscle memory allows them to return to being so supple and bendy. Yet, even for dancers who only took up the practice as adults, we all dream of beautiful lines and elegant shapes created by a strong and flexible back arch.

But what is the best way to practice bending backwards? Are all bodies able to do back bends?

Firstly, let’s look at what you are trying to achieve. Vertical Wise published a great article in 2016 showing how, depending on which part of your back is naturally more flexible, what your back bend may look like (in an ideal world where we can all sit on our heads!)

It has been said that although you can lengthen the muscles, tendons, and fascia, that support the spine, the actual space between the bones is set as of puberty (Source). This does not mean that we should all stop flexibility training all together, but it does help us set realistic goals and learn to approach the practice of back bending from a safe perspective.

When you attempt a back bend pose on the floor, you are enlisting the help of your hips, glutes, quads, shoulder, lats, and your neck. Therefore, one of the first points to consider when embarking on safe back bending is that you also need to stretch and learn to engage these other parts of your body. Injuries, especially in your lower back, may occur from continually putting pressure on the spine in an attempt to push deeper and deeper.

Lat stretches included in #SaturdayLaturday can be effective in helping to “open up” the upper back. Lunges and reclining poses that focus on the quads, hip flexors, and psoas, will also help to ensure the final poses are not putting too much strain on your lower back.

In each of these preparatory poses, try to think of opening the chest and staying long through the spine. Try not to throw your neck back more than necessary as this is also a common area for sprains and injuries. Yoga wheels and other props can help you form a safe shape as you learn to bend backwards, however learning how to hold a strong back bend should always be the goal, not just learning how to fall into one.

Different practitioners have opposing views about whether it’s a good idea to engage the glutes during back bends. It is possible that by engaging your glutes you can increase the stretch in your hip flexors, and reduce the load on your lumbar spine, but squeezing your butt may also externally rotate the legs and put you out of alignment. The glutes are made up of three muscles, two of which externally rotate the hip and one that internally rotates the hip. Learning to engage the lower gluteus minimus separately from the others may work in your favour to stabilise and increase the range of motion in your back bends. Practicing bridges from the floor with proper alignment will help you connect with this muscle. I also recommend reading this article by Roger Cole, Ph.D, for some simple and effective exercises to learn how to engage your glutes for safe back bends.

From a personal stand point, I have seen more improvement in my back flex and strength since joining a contortion class at the circus. I believe this is not only due to having professional instructors, but also due to the added diversity and consistency of my practice. In two, hour long classes a week we explore back bending from every angle – bridges and wheel pose, camel pose, bow pose, forearm stands, dancers pose, chest stands, as well as classic contortion positions for the more flexible students. Rather than just holding each shape as a static pose, we are encouraged to be actively entering and exiting the pose working to build strength in the posture as well as increasing our range of motion.

The many ways to enter/exit wheel pose include:

  • lying on your back, hands over head, push up
  • drop backs or walking your hands down a wall to the floor (and reverse back to standing)
  • from a handstand, flipping over to land your feet on the floor or mat (and reverse back to standing)
  • sitting, externally rotate one hand and push up, drawing an arc with your other hand until it reaches the floor underneath you (both sides)

Once you are in wheel pose there are also variations like lifting one leg, straightening both legs, or sinking your butt down to create a hollow back shape.

Some of these entries may feel better for your body than others. I still cannot drop back into a wheel pose, but I can get quite deep bends using the strength in my arms and legs to push up. I am still practicing my drop backs though, going back as far as I can from standing, holding and breathing, and then returning to standing with control and with focus on alignment.

“An honest way to train yourself into deeper backbends is to practice hands-free. When you remove your hands from backbends, you’re forced to work your core and spinal muscles. You can’t cheat how deep you get when your hands aren’t pushing you past what you can hold with integrity”

(Source)

Dancers who have a tendency to hyperextend their elbows, may also benefit from practicing hands free as they won’t be putting any pressure on the joint until their hands touch the floor in the final presentation of the pose.

You can also go hands free dropping back in camel pose.

Or lifting hands free from the floor.

These are great exercises to add to your practice as they will strengthen your back and core and help you learn to connect with the muscles that will support your back bends. Training this way will ensure you are also not falling into a bend that you don’t have the strength to maintain.

It can be scary to start practicing back bends on your own. Try joining a flexibility or contortion class or start small and train with a friend to help as a spotter. From a yoga perspective, back bends are considered to

“stimulate the proper functioning of the digestive system, help preserve the health of the vertebrae and spinal disks, and open the body to deep diaphragmatic breathing.” (ref)

You may also find that regularly practicing back bends improves your posture as well, countering bad habits of slouching at you desk and in front of your computer. A friend used to move her laptop to the floor and work in sphinx pose, challenging her upper back and shoulders for up to 20 minutes or more. If you have a flexible work space this is a great way to add some extra back bend practice to your day. Just be careful not to overdue it, remembering to pull your shoulders back and down and keep the neck long as you look forwards.

Finally, every back bending session should be matched with counter poses. Coming from a yoga background I would suggest, if your training involved lots of back bends, on the floor or the on the pole (e.g ballerinas, cocoons, crescent moons, allegras, and brass bridges), counter these poses with some forward bends off the pole – seated forward bends, plough pose, wall assisted forward bends, and some spinal twists. Don’t forget to breathe deeply into the upper, middle, and lower back in these poses and remember to lengthen and extend. Relaxing with shavasana and giving your body time to assimilate your practice will also support you adapting to your new bendy self!

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This post was requested by Su Ma Zaw, the winner of the October Shoutout Competition. If you would like to be involved in further competitions and be in the loop for all announcements, performance updates, and special gifts, sign up to my newsletter here!

 

 

Wrist Care

As humans, we have spent a lifetime walking on our feet and ankles. As pole dancers and aerialists we now spend hours a day trying to balance and hold ourselves up on our hands and wrists. If you are finding that your wrists and/or forearms hurt when attempting various pole tricks, or ache after a workout, you are not alone. Aside from shoulder injuries and torn hamstrings, wrist injuries are one of the most common aliments for pole dancers and aerialists.

Personally, I have a genetic predisposition to Carpul Tunnel Syndrome. My mother, grandmother, and great aunt, have all had various surgeries to reduce pain and support their mobility and well being in their wrists. Hopefully, the strength and mobility I have attained from pole and aerial training is working in my favour. I still get odd nerve pains and tenderness, but have found massage, nerve flossing, and rest (which even included learning how to use my computer mouse with my left hand!) are all effective in reducing pain and allowing me to continue my aerial training.

I have known many dancers who suffer from wrist ailments, such as ganglion cysts which all impact on their ability to pole. It is important to listen to your body and know when to stop or alter a move. There is no use pushing through and hoping the pain will go away. Many spins and tricks can be accomplished with the forearm on the pole, or in cup grip which allow the wrist to stay in a more neutral position. Variations for an Ayesha/Static V are pictured below.

 

Disclaimer – The following content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

The wrist is a very complex set of joints, ligaments, and nerves that support the movement of the hand in four directions – flexing, extending, and deviating side to side. The wrist can also twist, what is known as pronation and supination.  The structure of the wrist is made up for four main ligaments, three nerves, eight carpul bones, and five metacarpal bones. It goes without saying that a lot can go wrong if you fall on your wrist on put pressure on it in the wrong way!

It is important to warm up the wrists just like you warm up the rest of your body before pole. As well as wrist circles and stretches for the forearms and fingers, try this exercise:

Wrist lifts from all fours

 

Moving your hands closer or further away from your body will alter the amount of pressure and change the required strength to execute the move. What you are aiming for is quality of movement over quantity. Try to make the movement as smooth as possible. You also don’t want to fatigue the wrists. This exercise involves lots of tiny muscles, ligaments, and tendons, that may not be used to working out.  5-10 repetitions as part of your warm up is more than enough.

If you have a theraband there is also a great wrist exercise you can do with a pole or even just a railing. Standing next to the pole with the theraband at waist height, wrap the band around your palm and make a fist. Bring your elbow to you waist so your forearm is pointing out in front of you. Move away from the pole to increase the tension in the band. Fold your hand down (in flexion) with your hand in a fist and slowly release back to a neutral position. Repeat 5-10 times with both hands. The tension offered by the theraband will support muscle strength throughout the wrist joint.

Massage can be great for the wrists too, especially after an aerial session. You can massage your own wrists with the opposite hand, or if you are lucky to have a friend to help you, this is a great partner exercise –

Have you partner interlock their fingers with yours as they are facing you. Let your hands and arms go limp, as your partner shakes your hands up down. They can alternate with large motions or short and fast ones. I find this exercise is great for releasing lactic acid after a workout.

For the next section I talk about the split grip position on the pole. I am primarily talking about the pose known as a jamilla or an apprentice, where many dancers report feeling pain in their bottom hand.

When setting yourself up for a split grip, be extra mindful of your hand placement. Rather than gripping the pole and trying to support your weight, the action should be more of a sideways push. As your strength and technique increases you will soon be able to do this without your fingers wrapping around the pole at all.

Other things to remember for a successful and pain free split grip are:

  • Try not to place your bottom hand too high on the pole. Allow the wrist to remain in a neutral position rather than extending.
  • Point the index finger of bottom hand downwards reminding you to push rather than grip (you can see my bottom hand in this position in the video)
  • Bend your bottom arm just a little, don’t lock out the elbow
  • Remember to pull with your top arm, this will help take the weight away from your wrist in the bottom hand

Split grips like the apprentice/jamilla are not beginner pole moves. You need to be strong enough to carry most of your weight in your top arm.

The team at Vertical Wise also offer advice for other wrist intensive moves too.

“In moves like handspring, butterfly, flag, etc. it is best to keep a straight line from the elbow to the wrist.
This way, our body weight is evenly distributed and we don’t put too much pressure on the wrist joint.

By forming a straight line from the elbow to the wrist.

  • Our grip strength comes from the shoulder blade (scapula) and not from the wrist. This results in activating all of the muscles of the core body instead of using only one specific group, that of the forearm.
  • We prevent prolonged hyperextension of the wrist, which might even lead to a carpal tunnel syndrome.”

As pole dancers and aerialists we all dream of being able to continue flying forever and ever. But to do this, we need to take care of ourselves. Listening to our bodies, stopping moves that cause pain, and developing good technique to reduce injury are essential for any dancer. Taking appropriate rest days to let our bodies heal will also ensure we can dance with strong, healthy bodies right into our 80s!

 

Saturday Laturday!

At some point, pole dancers and aerialists will begin to see their upper back and shoulders becoming stronger and larger. Racer back tops and sleeveless dresses are now the norm as we cater to our growing lats, shoulders, biceps, and traps. Our bodies are stronger because of pole, yet many women question if their growing lats are something to be proud of or something to cover up.

So, in the spirit of embracing strong women, it is with great pleasure that I introduce #SaturdayLaturday! Show off your lats to the world and support women growing stronger – inside and out!

Just like #sundaybumday, and in the spirit of training safer and stronger, let’s look more closely at our lats, how they work to support us upside down, and how you can keep them injury free.

In the diagram you can see that the lats are the muscles that wrap around the middle and lower spine, extending up through the armpit. They insert on both shoulder blades and the upper arm at the humerus.  Their full name is “latissimus dorsi” which basically translates to “broad muscles of the back” – latissimus = broadest, and dorsum = back.

The lats connect and support movement through the spine, ribs, sacrum, and shoulder blades. Every time you lift you arms above your head and engage your shoulders, sit tall with good posture, or twist and bend your torso, your lats are put to work. Having strong lats will stabilise your scapula and upper back and also aid in shoulder stability. The lats pull your arms down towards your body and help with rotation. Try this: hold our your arm out straight and make a “thumbs down” action rotating from your shoulder. You should be able to feel your lats working in this movement. If you are familiar with a twisted grip mount in pole dancing you will also see the similarities and how your lats work to rotate your arm and shoulder for you to turn your arm and grip the pole.

Bodybuilders use exercises such as chin ups, pull ups, and pull downs  to strengthen and train their lats. Your inverts, shoulder mounts, and any work on silks and lyra, are going to engage your lats as well. Hence, the surprise when someone snaps a pic of you at the beach and you realise how much your back has changed because of pole!

Aerialists and pole dancers spend lots of time pulling with their arms overhead. Having strong lats will help with these movements and will give you better posture. But if the lats are too tight, you may be at risk of rotator cuff injuries as your shoulder overcompensates. Tight lats also make it virtually impossible raise the arms full over head in a backbend, and may even reduce your ability to create a stable base for a headstand (ref).

If alarm bells are going off in your head as you realise tight lats may be stopping you from reaching your flexibility and aerial goals, then read on!

One way to counter tightness and care for your lats is to foam roll them. Lay on your side with your bottom arm outstretched and the roller perpendicular to your torso. From here you should be able to roll forwards and backwards as well as side to side, being careful to not roll over your ribs. Regular foam rolling will help soothe and soften the lats.

When stretching the lats, ensure that your pelvis and ribs remain stable. If you raise your arms over head from a standing position and you find your ribs popping and lower back arching, your lats will not be stretched effectively. “Stabilise the origins” of the muscle by keeping your pelvis and tailbone tucked under and your core engaged. When you raise your arms, you should feel a stretch at the back of the armpit.

You can see how tight your lats are, and have a great lat stretch by trying this exercise on the floor:

Lie on your back on the floor with your arms by your sides. Feel where the back of your rib cage touches the floor, taking special note of the point of contact that lies closest to your waist. Turn your palms up, then lift your arms up and overhead to the floor, or as close to the floor as they will go without you bending your elbows or separating your arms wider than your shoulders.

For most people, this movement will make the lower ribs lift off the floor in back and jut out in front. Now return your arms to your sides and repeat the same actions, but this time, as you reach overhead, press the lower rib cage—the point closest to your waist—firmly into the floor to prevent it from lifting up at all. This will probably create a sensation of stretch on the outer sides of your armpits and make it harder to reach the floor. The stronger the stretch and the greater the restriction of movement, the tighter your lats are. (ref)

Here are some simple stretches to include after your pole dance or aerial session to balance out your training and give your lats some love –

1- Assisted Squat – Use stall bars or a high bench to offer resistance as you hold on with your hands. Start with a neutral pelvis (pictured) and then sink your hips down towards the floor. Tuck the pelvis and feel free to let the back round and relax, gently swaying from side to side to increase the stretch.

2- Elbows on chair – Use a rolled up towel or something to hold on to, to keep your arms from rotating back in. Sit on your knees in front of the chair and rest your elbows on the chair edge (roll up a blanket or yoga mat to make this more comfortable. Sink your hips down and lower your chin to your chest to feel the stretch.

3 – Eagle Pose – Doing this pose seated on a chair will ensure that you keep your pelvis and ribs in alignment, focusing the stretch on your lats without arching the lower back. Wrap your right elbow inside your left and curl your wrists around so your palms are facing each other (or as far as you can go). Lift your elbows towards the sky until you feel the stretch behind your armpits. Take a few breaths and then change sides.


With all the technical talk out of the way, it’s time to show off your lats! Join the #SaturdayLaturday movement, show off how strong and proud you are of your body and give your lats some love for all they do in your dance practice!

Use the hashtag #SaturdayLaturday on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and lets share the love for our lats!

Sunday Bumday!

sb2We are seeing more and more butt selfies taking over social media. Sunday rolls around and every pole dancers across the globe is snapping pics as they squat it out, strut towards the pole, or just lie in bed in sexy lingerie.

But, what do you really know about your butt?

It wasn’t until I was forced to see a physio for my hamstring injuries, that I began to learn about the importance of working my glutes – for stability, strength, and mobility.

My rehabilitation involved lots of glute strengthening to ensure that my now scarred hamstrings would remain stable and safe even after they healed.

So let’s break down our derrieres.

There are three muscles that are called glutes:
The gluteus maximus, gluteous medius, and gluteous minimus. There is also a muscle called the tensor fasciae latae (not to be ordered along with your cronut!)

They all have different roles to play in helping your leg move in the hip socket, including rotation, lifting, and abducting. The condition of your glutes also influences your posture, and the chance of you developing back, hip, and pelvic pain.

THE GLUTEOUS MAXIMUS
The gluteous maximus helps us extend and externally rotate the leg.
You engage this muscle when
– creating a turn out
– swinging your leg back behind your torso
– lifting you leg while holding a plank
– doing donkey kicks
Squats and hip thrusts, can also exercise the gluteus maximus.

THE GLUTEOUS MEDIUS
The gluteous medius assists in external rotation, and also works to help internally rotate the leg. It’s third job is to abduct – the action of lifting your leg out to the side, like lateral leg raises or a clamshell exercise.

THE GLUTEOUS MINIMUS
The gluteous minimus teams up with the TFL to internally rotate the leg, as well as support abduction.

 has great Gluteal Exercises to see and feel all of this in action. Using your hands to feel the muscles working, especially in the butt, can be enormously helpful in understanding what is activating and when. Imagine it as a hands on way to talk to your body and tell it what to do, physically creating a pathway from the brain to the butt while the neural pathways are being formed.

If you are having trouble with certain poses on the pole, you may need to think about strengthening your glutes.

 

Case in point – Cupid

cupidYour top leg is hooked on the pole, gripping and pulling with the pole behind your knee. Your bottom leg is straight, pushing against the pole through the foot.

Hip mobility will play a role in how this shape looks on your body. Your crotch might be close to the pole, or your top leg might be more a right angle. Either way, to be stable in the pose, and eventually be able to take your hands off, you will need to be activating your glutes. Instructions such as “push your hips forward” and “squeeze your bum” may help you connect to the muscles that need to be engaged, but learning how to engage the three different glute muscles when off the pole will help with your muscle memory when you return to the pose.

Even beginner spins, require a certain amount of glute engagement to create nice lines. Play with a stag leg back spin and see the difference when you actively pull your back leg up with your glutes.

Yoga and Barre involve many exercises that will help train your glutes, and don’t be afraid to take it slow while you consciously think about engagement and activation. Make it a regular part of your pole dance training and join the #SundayBumday movement with tush that you’re proud to show off!

Can’t get enough? Now there is #SaturdayLaturday too!

10 Rest Day Tips

20160418_200918We all know that we should have rest days. Between pole days, conditioning days, flexibility training days, training for comps, choreography sessions, and that push to try that move just one more time …soon you find you’ve been poling for three weeks straight!

Your body doesn’t tell you with a polite note slipped under the door either. It bangs on the door in the middle of the night and wakes you up sore, unforgiving, and perhaps even with the flu!

Being run down puts a big hole in your pole practice. You end up having to take a week off instead of just a day, and then you feel like you need to work twice as hard to make up the gains you think you missed.

It’s a vicious cycle, I see many people go through in the studio. Over training leads to injury and burn out. It is also an emotional roller coaster where unrealistic expectations crash with self doubt, and tuning out to the body’s cues.

So let me re-frame your idea of a rest day with these 10 tips that will make sure you are giving your body some love for all the amazing things it can do!

1 – Foam rolling
For a more in depth look at how foam rolling can compliment your pole practice, recovery, and flexibility training read this article. But seriously, your muscles will thank you and so will your soul. Show yourself some love!

2 – Yoga
If you really do feel like you need to move on your rest days, take up some yoga. It can be as flowy or vigorous as you like, even put in some handstands if you want, but it will offer a nice change of pace to pole dancing, and the connection to your breath will support recovery. Don’t forget your long shavasana, even if you have a home practice. Yoga doesn’t neglect rest and neither should you.

3 – Epsom salt bath
You may already be taking a magnesium supplement to help with muscle soreness, but what if I told you you can soak in the stuff! Add some aromatherapy oils, a few candles and a glass of wine …need I say more?

4 – Massage
Do you have tight shoulders? A stiff neck? Sore glutes and hammys? Muscles need circulation and rest to recover. Self massage is great, and foam rolling, but if you can book yourself in for a proper massage at least every 3-6 months your body will thank you. Take the whole day, let yourself be oiled up and let it soak in to those calluses and dry spots. When you get home jump in a Epsom salt bath and laze the afternoon away. Aaaaahhhhhh.

5 – Get outside
Many pole dancers have pole widows at home. They miss you and your rest days are a great chance to catch up on quality time with loved ones. Go for a walk, head to the beach, or just wander. The walk will help you feel like you haven’t just sat around all day, and the time to connect with you partner will also boost your spirits and hopefully make you feel less guilty when you spent the whole day in the studio tomorrow.

6 – Visualization
Maybe you have a pole comp coming up and really can’t let yourself take time off. Did you know, that visualizing your combos and routines can be an effective part of your training? Lie down, close your eyes, and put on your music. Visualize the stage, the audience, your introduction, the lights on the stage, your costume. This exercise will help with your memory of combos and floorwork and also help with your awareness of the music. All while giving you body the time to recharge to tackle the routine tomorrow!

7 – Keep a pole journal
I’m a big fan of journaling, for record keeping and self reflection. After a comp or showcase it’s a lovely way to document photos and the final choreography, and take stock in the experience. It also satisfies the desire to be living, breathing pole, while not actually over training.

8 – Costume making/fixing
Whether you make your own costumes, or just have a wardrobe overflowing with crops, booty shorts, tank tops, and tights, guaranteed some if it needs some TLC. Grab a needle and thread and fix those sequins on the costume you wore last time. Sort through your active wear and cull anything worn out, sweat stained, or that would be more appreciated by a pole friend. Lots of studios run buy/swap/sell events and it’s a great way to trade for new gear.
There are also a tonne of YouTube videos and tutorials about making your own costumes. Many patterns for underwear, bras, and crops are also easily adaptable to pole. Making your own pole wear and costume means you can always have a unique outfit to compliment your routine too, scoring bonus points from the judges.

9 – Colouring books
Cultivating mindfulness through colouring is a trend that’s taken the world by storm. Children colour and draw all the time, so why as adults have we tossed this hobby into the “I don’t have time” basket? There are now books with designs of pole dancers and aerialists! No excuses, take the afternoon off, go sit under a tree, and colour!

10 – Cook
Late night pole classes getting in the way of healthy dinners?
Are you finding yourself grabbing chocolate bars from work to the studio “because there isn’t enough time to eat anything healthy?”
Use your rest days for meal prep! Head to the shops and buy ingredients that you can use to make meals in bulk. Cook up a storm and then freeze the leftovers in single portions, perfect to heat up when you get home from class.
It is also super easy to make your own protein bars and healthy snacks. Cook a batch on the weekend and they will also last you all week, so there is no temptation to cheat while on the run.

Pole dance teaches us that our bodies can do amazing things. Show your body some love and take a rest day. Self care is not selfish. Recharge and refuel and return to your dancing stronger than ever.

If you have any more tips for rest day self care, let me know in the comments below, or tag me on Facebook and Instagram!