It’s an unfortunate fact that injuries are part and parcel to the pole fitness experience. Just like any other physically demanding sport or hobby, even the most careful and safety minded poler are not immune. So what are we to do during the downtime when we are itching to jump back into training? Well, I’ve had the last 3 months to answer this question.
This January I underwent an open reduction internal fixation of my left clavicle. The decision to go ahead with the surgery happened after I had tried conservative treatment for the original clavicle fracture for 18 months, only to have it break again this past December. Waking from the surgery, I discovered that I have NO motor function and very little sensation in my entire left arm. This was a terrifying experience. One that I might go into detail in another post once the ordeal is over. The short story is, I suffered an unavoidable traction injury to my brachial plexus during the surgery and was told it could take 1-2 years to fully heal. It was only very recently that I got enough motor function back to actually type out this blog post. So I’ve had a lot of time to answer the question, “What do I do while recovering?”
While the answer may change from person to person, and depending on the injury, here are my recommendations to those dealing with an injury.
Make Non-Pole Plans with Your Pole Friends
While you are injured is the perfect time to bring the friendships you’ve made in you pole class out of the studio. Go check out the new froyo place or go watch a movie with your pole buddies. It is crucial during your recovery to surround yourself with people who look forward to your healing as much as you do. One natural response is to hide out at home until it all blows over. But that can do more harm than good, especially if the recovery period is long and slow.
Take a Short Break from Instagram/Facebook
I know I just said not to become a hermit, but it’s okay to remove Instagram or Facebook from easily accessible places, such as your phone. There is a fine line between keeping contact with your pole friends, and obsessively checking what they are up to. And believe me, when you have nothing to do but rest, it’s really easy to check Facebook again even though you just looked at it 20 minutes ago. It can also get depressing watching all the new moves and combos coming out on Instagram. It’s hard enough struggling to stay updated with all the new moves when you’re not injured. When you are forced to sit out of the action due to an injury, it can feel even worse.
Remind Yourself that You are More Than Your Pole
This once was hard for me. After years of living and breathing pole, stopping my training felt as though I lost my identity. This is a very common theme for all athletes who end up on the bench due to injuries. For many pole enthusiasts, pole takes up a lot of their time and disposable income. Use the newly freed resources to do something that makes you happy, reacquaint yourself with an old hobby, or spend time with your friends, family or even pets. Realize that you are more than the sum of what you can do.
Watch Some Non-Pole Videos on Youtube
Left to my own devices, my YouTube history would look something like this: pole video, pole video, another pole video, one more pole video, make up tutorial, make up tutorial, oh look cats! back to pole video, more pole video, more cats, back to pole rinse and repeat. Yes, I love my pole videos, makeup tutorials (which never looks the same when I try them) of course, cats. But watching pole while being forced to sit out was no fun at all. During my recovery, I branched out and found a whole new world on youtube of videos that weren’t pole, but can be used to improve my performance when I finally recover enough to get back in the swing. Here are some topics to get you started: fitness competition routines, burlesque and drag performances. You’re welcome! ( BTW, this is getting another blog post all to itself.)
Stay Active and Positive
Staying physically active has also been proven to help improve your mood, and a positive outlook can help speed up recovery. Even if you are reduced to bed rest, there are things you can do to keep your body supple and reduce muscle atrophy. Even if the only thing you can do is passive range of motion exercises, do them, or in some cases, get someone to help you do them. Pole may be completely out of your abilities for a while, but there are so many other ways to stay active. A good physiotherapist will be able to give you exercises to do to help rehab the injured parts as well as keep the rest of your body in shape. You might also want to read up on some sports psychology. If you HAVE to sit there and mope, put a time limit on how long you can feel sorry for yourself. After that, get up and do something.
Eat Well and Rest!
This should be a no brainer. Aside from rest, you also need to make sure you are well nourished. You may be fighting an urge to diet because the lack of exercise could mean you are putting on the pounds during your recovery, but you still need to make sure that you are not depriving your body of the nutrients it needs to heal. The human body has an amazing capacity to heal from traumatic injuries, but it needs to be given the time and the required building blocks to rebuild damaged muscles, connect broken bones and regrow nerves.
Sitting out of your favourite pastime because of an injury sucks. But every day that pass, you will get a little stronger. Stay active, stay positive, and feed your mind, heart and body with good food, good company and good thoughts! Here’s to getting better!
TL/DR, Stop moping, get some rest, eat well and go do shit!
Until next time, be sure to Live It Up!