What About "Pole Burn" ?

by Katie
(Winston Salem, NC)

Like what happens to you when you're a kid on the monkey bars, your hands hurt and you lose your grip? Except here, not just on your hands but also on your body. Ouch?

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Pole Burn Tips & Tricks
by: Susan from PDFF

Hi Katie, thanks for your question. I feel your pain (!) and I'm sure lots of other pole dance enthusiasts do as well. Here are some tips for reducing, avoiding and coping with pole burn.

First, you may want to check out this post I wrote a while ago in response to a similar question. This visitor was asking specifically about inner thigh pain, but you'll probably pick up some good information related to your question.

Pole Burn is, unfortunately, a fact of life for most new pole dancers. To better understand how to cope with it, let's take a quick look at what exactly causes pole burn. From there, we can figure out some ways to reduce the problme.

Pole burn is actually a friction burn. If you can remember back to grade 9 science class, friction causes heat and as we know, excessive heat causes burns.

But as you'll see mentioned in the above referenced post, the ability of your skin to withstand friction also plays a part. The example I used was that of a baby's bath water needing to be much cooler than an adult might want, as the baby's skin is newer, thinner and more delicate.

So the two main ways to address the problem of pole burn are to a) reduce friction, thereby reducing the likelihood of burns, and b) toughen up your skin so that it can more easily withstand the friction that leads to pole burn.

Continued in next post...

Pole Burn Tips & Tricks cont'd
by: Susan from PDFF

To reduce the impact of pole burn, obviously we need to reduce friction. This isn't always easy, or desirable, however, since for some moves like leg locks in inversions, we WANT that friction as it's the only thing holding us on the pole!

For spins, the best thing is to try to keep your skin as dry as possible, since excess moisture will contribute to increased friction and lead to pole burn. You can do this with frequent hand wiping.

If you tend towards very sweaty palms, however, (or other body parts) you might try one of the pole grip products such as Tite Grip or Mighty Grip.

For excessively sweaty palms, I prefer Tite Grip as it acts very much like an antiperspirant for your hands, though of course you can place it anywhere else you need to reduce sweating, like your "knee pits," etc.

For the moves where delicate skin is involved in a grip (inner thighs is a prime example), one thing that can help over time is to strengthen the muscles in the area (the adductors, or inner thigh muscles in this case).

This is because if your muscles are stronger, you'll be better able to squeeze the pole and keep yourself in place. In essence, you're reducing friction on the skin by increasing the ability of your muscles to exert a force on the pole

When the muscles are weaker, you have to rely more on hope, ie the fact that the pole is sandwiched between your thighs and hopefully you have enough thigh to keep it there!

The thing is that many of us girls are relatively heavy in the hips and thighs - that's just the way it is I'm afraid, as that's where we tend to store our extra fat - but the fact that we have plenty of thigh can make us a bit lazy, as we can forget to use the muscles in our legs to grip the pole.

This can contribute to pole burn on the thighs, because the skin on our thighs is more likely to be pulled and stretched (there's our old friend friction again!).

And while our thinner-thighed sisters may have a harder time learning to grip the pole with their legs at first (due to the fact that they have less thigh with which to do it), once they discover and develop the necessary muscles, they tend to get over the pole burn relatively quickly because they have less fat on their thighs and therefore less margin of error, as it were. In other words, they can't afford to get lazy with their grip!

Continued in next post...

Pole Burn Tips & Tricks cont'd
by: Susan from PDFF

The other thing to know, as I told the questioner in my inner thigh pain post, is that over time you can toughen up the delicate skin where pole burn is more likely to occur.

As mentioned in that post, you should try to practice the moves that give you trouble regularly, in order to build up resistance to the burning feeling. However, don't do them so often that you're working on top of burns!

In other words, allow the skin to recover fully between sessions, so that you're not irritating it further. This is only counter-productive.

And finally, while you're working on improving muscle strength and toughening up your skin, you can speed healing with a simple and inexpensive remedy...ice.

As with regular burns, ice is a very effective treatment for pole burns as it cools the affected skin, reduces inflammation, and speeds healing. You don't even need an official ice pack; just use a bag of frozen veggies or you can even make your own by mixing water and rubbing alcohol 1:1 in a ziplock baggie and storing in the freezer.

Just remember to wrap the ice pack in a cloth before applying to your skin. You don't want to get frost bite on top of your pole burn!

So tip #1 is to try a pole grip product of some kind, even on your legs. It may supplement your grip strength enough to help reduce the burn.

Tip #2 is to work on strengthening the muscles in the areas where you suffer pole burn. This is commonly the inner thighs, so although pole dancing is known as an awesome core and upper body workout, leg strength can't be overlooked when it comes to avoiding pole burn!

Tip #3 is to try to practice regularly, to allow your skin to toughen up, but not too often as your skin should be allowed to heal between sessions.

And Tip #4 is to apply ice after any session where you experience pole burn. It will relieve the pain and help to speed healing as you're working to toughen up.

I hope this is helpful Katie, and I wish you plenty of pain-free pole dancing!

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