Every year as the weather gets colder I start to see posts about cold poles and cold dancers. The gist of them is normally something like “I don’t want to/have time to do a full warmup, but I want to get in some pole time, how can I do that?”
The short answer is, you can use a hair dryer, a heater, or even a special pole heater, and they can help. But the long answer is, why rush?
Warming up is a crucial part of sports injury prevention. And all too many polers, it seems, are all too eager to bypass it completely. Do you really not have 10 minutes to prepare your body for the physically challenging activity you’re about to ask of it? Reallllly?
Warming up your body gradually increases your heart rate and blood flow to your muscles, while loosening your joints. In addition, warm muscles are better prepared to function effectively and efficiently, which in turn helps cut down on overuse injuries. And if you incorporate the pole into your warmup, you can get it good and grippy too. So tell me again why it’s not worth it to you to go through a real-for-sure warmup?
Here’s a simple but effective 10-minute warmup designed to get your major muscle groups going and loosen your joints at the same time.
1: Begin standing. Reach over your head, push your butt back, and with a flat back reach down and place your hands in front of your feet. Hold.
2: Walk feet back to a plank position. Hold.
3: Drop hips, bring shoulder back and down, and get into a cobra position. Hold.
4: Push through shoulders and raise hips into a down dog position. Hold.
5: Step forward with one foot into a deep lunge, making sure your ankle is stacked directly underneath your knee. Establish your balance and hold, or open your chest up and bend backward slightly while balancing. Hold.
6: Leaving the front foot where it is, turn the back foot out so you are in a side lunge/warrior position. Hold.
7: Straighten front leg and lower your torso to the side into a triangle pose. Hold.
8: Bring hands to either side of the front foot, draw the back foot forward so you are in a crouch, the straighten arms in front of you and stand. That is one set of one side.
Do each side 3-4 sets, each set moving gently into each pose and holding it for a count of 3-5. As you feel your body warming up, try to stretch slightly deeper into each pose.
Following the mat warmup, do a freestyle without any challenging tricks or spins. Think simple moves, lots of stretchy transitional movements, basic spins that don’t put a lot of pressure on your body, simple climbs and seated poses. These will help you continue to get everything on your body moving, AND they will help warm up your pole better than a hair dryer or heater.
If your pole is frigidly cold, you can use those things as a supplement, but they are poor substitutes for actually taking a few minutes to warm yourself and the pole up the old fashioned way! So. Please, please, please–don’t bypass your warmup!