Let me start by saying, I am no expert. I just speak honestly and keep an open mind in regards to pole and aerials training and my own body. Nothing makes you more aware of your body than being injured and having to plan your recovery.
I see so many people attending stretch classes and saying, “I have given myself two months to get the splits” or others who have incredible flexibility but cannot do 10 push ups, or cannot pull themselves up out of the splits! People aren’t lining up for strength classes and instead choose stretching over strengthening. However, the two work in harmony and you cannot successfully have one without the other on the pole. You will always reach a point of plateau in your training or worse… injury.
Flexibility vs Mobility, or as we hear all the time – Passive vs Active flexibility. Put simply, ‘passive flex’ means you use something like the floor or the pole to assist you. ‘Active flex’, means you can stretch to your range of motion without using any objects as force, even a hand.
In pole language, your passive pancake stretch (chest on floor with legs straddled) looks amazing, but can you lay on your back and clack your toes on the floor beside your ears in an active flexibility straddle? You can split on the floor, but how is your jade split?
Whenever you stretch, you should be aiming to build strength around joints, tendons and ligaments to support you in the increased range of motion – that way, when you convert those moves to the pole or aerials, it will be a lot safer and easier. Regular and intense stretching can cause the connective tissues around your muscle and joints to loosen, making them weak and vulnerable to injury. Muscles will only stretch so far, then your ligaments will stretch, and putting your ligaments under too much stress will cause serious injury and joint stability issues.
Ideally, we need to work on our full range of motion, so we are stretching and strengthening equally and convert it into functional mobility on the pole. You will be safer, stronger and less injured as a result.
So next time you are training, choose wisely. Stretch, yes, but alternate with some strength training and make sure you are incorporating full range of motion exercises. Speak to your Instructors or Studio Owners for more assistance with mobility training.
Diagram from – www.thepolept.com