So you've finally found a form of exercise that you love. In fact, it's more than just a workout, it's an addiction. When you are not at pole, you think about pole, when a song comes on the radio, you imagine yourself performing gravity defying feats and moving to the beat. You spend every last penny on classes and pole wear and stalk your favourite pole stars on Instagram. Pole makes us feel good! Great when we nail a move and determined when we don't. No wonder we all want to keep going, keep training, keep pushing our bodies to achieve amazing things.
Great, yeah? Well...kind of!
You see, there is such a thing as too much training. A hard pill for us hardcore pole addicts to swallow.... days off are important. Firstly, we need to understand what happens physiologically when we exercise: Basically, when we exercise, (strength in particular) we are causing micro tears in the muscles. Our immune system needs time to repair these tears and when it does, the muscle becomes stronger. But if the body doesn't come out of the process causing these micro tears, this system doesn't have time to keep up to repair. Resulting in a greater risk of injury.
How long should we allow for this process, you ask? Factors such as age, fitness level, nutrition and sleep all play a part in recovery. However, the general consensus from many sources suggests 48 hours. Partly because Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) on average, peaks at 48 hours post exercise.
Now, lets not all get our pyjamas on and spend two days on the sofa with a bar of Galaxy! We are genetically designed to move. Activity is still important, but not at your most intense, body weight lifting level. Rest day simply refers to lowering the intensity and type. For example, flexibility training is the perfect compliment to pole and aerial to help you create a strong and flexible body and can be done during your rest days. So exercising every day is good as long as you are cross training (mixing it up). If you constantly focus on one area of the body ( for example in pole, we always use our shoulders whilst lifting our body weight) you are at risk of overuse injuries. This can include sprains and tears. Not good and not fun!
Believe me, this advice comes from the heart. Anyone who knows me personally, will know that not a day could go by without me training a deadlift or perfecting my Iron X. At my most intense, every week, I was teaching pole for up to 10 hours a day for two days, for 4-6 hours on two days ( the remaining hours in those days included at least 1-2 hours of my own training). And the other three days? Well two of those included training pole and strength training in the gym with just one rest day per week. Intense, huh?! Stubborn determination and my perception that more training meant becoming stronger/better, prevented me from recognising the warning signs.
Over training typically manifests in the following ways:
Unfortunately, for me, not taking adequate rest, resulted in an overuse shoulder injury. So by not going a proper 2 days a week without pole, I am now forced (by my body) to go 4-6 weeks. I know which I would rather!
So with the knowledge that I have gained through doing it wrong and researching how to prevent future injury, I hope to empower you, my fellow pole addicts, to listen to your body. Allow it time to repair & heal so that you can enjoy this amazing sport for years to come with a healthy and strong body and mind.