Hurts So Good - the Pain of Pole. November 20, 2015 17:21
From International level competitor to absolute beginner, there's one thing every poler has in common - pain. Poling delivers a whole new kind of pain and it comes in many forms.
While most people try to hide bruises, polers wear them with pride. Pole kisses are a sign that you've worked hard and just as one part of your body becomes conditioned, you start learning tricks that bring out the colour somewhere else, so you may as well get used to them.
A very popular treatment for bruising is Arnica, but it's as controversial as it is common. While anecdotal evidence is strong, a recent report, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, supports the idea that the positive effects of Arnica are all in the mind and that the Homeopathic treatment is no more effective than a placebo.
Although the study was small and by no means definitive, it also comes not long after a study by the National Health and Medical Research Council which found no credible evidence that Homeopathy is effective in treating health problems.
You can, however, get Arnica in essential oil form and as an Arica infused oil for massage
A cold pack or ice applied as soon as possible is a tried and true method to help reduce swelling and discolouration.
Blisters and Callouses
All that spinning and gripping leaves many with painful blisters on their hands and while the pain is pretty annoying, the hardest thing to deal with is having to stay off the pole until they heal.
Most blisters should heal on their own, simply keep them covered to protect them. If your blister pops (or you can't resist popping it) wash the area well, apply some antiseptic and a clean dressing.
Once you've been poling for a while, you may get hard lumps of skin building up on your palms; it's not the most attractive look, but your callouses will stop you from getting any more blisters. Keep callouses at bay by rubbing them back gently with a pumice stone.
Callouses can also sometimes rip and that's pretty unpleasant and, you guessed it, painful. Ripfix is a popular treatment for ripped, calloused or blistered hands.
Usually accompanied by an unattractive squelchy-squeeky-draggy noise, pole burn is pretty much an irritation caused by friction between your skin and the pole. Get used to it. Again, it's something your body will become conditioned to but something cold will help ease the initial pain. If you've shifted skin, try something soothing like Paw Paw cream.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
We all know the horror of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, a.k.a. DOMS. Thought to be caused by microscopic tears in muscle fibres releasing chemical irritants that trigger inflammation, DOMS can set in anywhere from 8 to 24 hours after you train, peaking at 48hrs. Fortunately, there's a few ways to deal with DOMS and most of them are pretty pleasant.
Chocolate milk has been shown to be a highly effective recovery drink, and having it on hand to drink as soon as you finish your workout and again 2 hours later, is shown to reduce muscle soreness. Also, yum!
Cold Water Immersion - Hydrotherapies are often used by athletes to treat post-exercise pain and according to at least one study, the most effective method is two 5-minute plunges into icy water immediately after exercising. Hot water is only slightly less effective, so maybe the weather should decide which method you choose - hot in the Winter and cold in the Summer.
Epsom Salts - There's surprisingly little scientific evidence that a good soak in a warm bath with Epsom Salts is effective at relieving sore muscles but it's supposed benefits have been espoused by, well, pretty much everyone, forever. If it doesn't work, you've still enjoyed a nice relaxing soak in the tub, so that's a benefit right there and if it does work, it'll be the Magnesium in the salts.
Magnesium - Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body uses for a wide range of clever things. One of those is to aid in the delivery of calcium around the body to affect muscle contraction, so it may also assist in muscle relaxation. Doses less than 350 mg per day are said to be safe for most adults, but as with any supplement (natural or not) check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking a magnesium supplement.
Massage - Surprise, surprise - having someone rub your sore, aching muscles while you zone out reduces muscle soreness. The effects won't last long so you may have to get lots of massages.
Exercise - A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggests that exercise could be just as effective as massage in relieving post workout aches and pains. The sad news is that the effects are fairly short lived. The answer? Train more often!
Of course, this list doesn't take into account the pain from injuries like pulled muscles, kitty-crashes or breaking your big toe when you kick the mirror cartwheeling down from an extended butterfly. You'll have to seek appropriate medical advice for those and once you're healed, no doubt you'll be straight back on that pole asking for more!