I’ve been slowly rehabbing myself from a wrist injury that occurred about two months ago. Since then, I’ve been taking it VERY easy to avoid re-injuring the wrist and I still get warning twinges that let me know when I need to back off of it. I’ve just recently started bearing weight on that wrist at all—which means that I just started inverting again a couple weeks ago—but there are still a lot of moves that are on my “no fly” list.
I was going to classes but nearly everything made my wrist feel wonky and I was scared of making it worse. I was teaching but I was doing everything on one side, and avoiding a lot of tricks, and it was really awkward to teach my advanced students without being able to demo things comfortably. I tried to focus on what I could, working around my injury instead of pushing through it. After all, I want to be pole dancing till I’m old and very, very wrinkled!
So, I pushed my students a little harder on abs and made up a few new oblique-targeting moves that I joyfully unleashed on students. We worked on more core and conditioning, like headstands into layouts, and invert prep drills. In class for myself, I forced myself to think more outside the box and find ways of interacting with the pole given my new limitations. I spent more time in class working with my classmates and cheering them on, instead of on the pole myself. I’m not going to lie: I definitely, definitely went through a period of complete and total frustration with my wrist. Some days were awful. Some days… were better.
As I get my range of motion back, and feel the wrist healing, I am finding myself ecstatic at the small victories: realizing that my straight-legged chopper is actually stronger than it was before, and easier. That my press up from a flag into a brass monkey is smoother despite not having done one for months (shelved because every time I did it, I got a cramp in my pec- OUCH). All the mental work I’ve done in coming up with new combinations, has made it much easier to think of transitions into and out of new tricks that I’m working on. And I got more time to live my life outside of pole, having a fantastic 30th birthday and an amazing vacation in Mexico with my boyfriend. Coming back from injury is like rediscovering what your body is capable of. I was emotionally and physically rejuvenated.
It’s been said that there are three steps you have to complete to become a professional dancer: learn to dance, learn to perform, and learn how to cope with injuries. Pole dancing is really, really difficult, and I am fully aware of how strenuous and ridiculous it is that we are asking so much of our bodies. It’s sort of inevitable that whether or not you sustain an injury directly from poling (mine was actually not on a pole), you will– at some point in your journey—need to learn to deal with one. Acupuncture, massage, and rest do wonders for strains and sprains. Icing and traumeel at first sight of a bruise or soft tissue contusion are a wonder. Learning to recognize when you are overtraining (not giving your body appropriate rest in between workouts), is a must. And feeling out your emotional state is just as important—are you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, depressed? Is a pole session going to be therapeutic or put you on the verge of tears?
One of the biggest things I learned from my wrist being messed up (dislocated several bones and put tears in the ligament): if you have the miniscule wrists and forearms of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, don’t try to tough it out through 3 hours of handstands without paying more attention to your body! But in all seriousness– I’ve had injuries in the past—a minor strain in a deltoid, a pulled hamstring (put any flexibility training on that leg out of the question for nearly a year), an oblique that was all out of wack. Every injury has forced me to be more in touch with my body and pay more attention to what it is telling me.
I’ve also found that as time passes and I mature, my mindset has changed a lot and I’ve really been trying to think of setbacks and challenges as positive learning opportunities. And now that I’ve stopped putting as much pressure on myself, I don’t think of an injury as time when I’m “falling behind” or “losing ground” on the pole dancers around me. I’ve tried to really give myself the time that I needed to heal properly, and I know that I will come back a little different—maybe I will always baby that wrist a touch, or maybe I will always be a little gunshy about putting my wrist in certain positions—but I don’t mind that so much. I feel like I’m getting to better understand my body and I will only move forward from here.
Tomorrow’s post: Sassy poling…