I remember the day after my first pole class vividly. I remember my body aching, muscles I barely knew existed, let alone thought were working learning basic spins, were tight and trying to release the handbrake on my car was a two-handed effort. I was recently made to feel this way again after a two month break off the pole due to injury and that time off, more so than the actual injury or the muscle related pain afterwards was what really hurt.
I go to class fairly regularly, in a normal week I’ll usually do at least 3 hours of pole and an hour or two of aerial hoop. It’s part of my regular routine, a big part of my life and having to stop suddenly through no choice of my own was not a pleasant experience. I’ve never really thought of aerial fitness as a dangerous pastime, despite others concern for you dangling upside down. I’ve always trusted myself not to push too far or go past my limits if I’m not ready and although I’ve had a fall from pretty high up the pole, straight backwards out of a wrist seat about 4ft up, I’ve never really injured myself so when I broke my hand at hoop I was shocked.
I’d never broken anything before, with the exception of maybe a toe or two but I never had them checked out and confirmed, so when I landed badly coming out of a move on the hoop I originally thought I’d maybe dislocated my finger or even just sprained it. I could still make a fist, take pressure against my fingers and actually kept trying to ‘pop’ my finger back in as I was sure it was a dislocation. On the advice of my studio family I let them drive me home and went straight to hospital with my husband. After amusing triage nurse slightly with how the injury occurred, even his initial thought was that nothing was broken after initial resistance testing but after examining the x-ray it was clear I had a spiral fracture of my right fourth metacarpal which meant two things – no work and no pole. Thankfully I didn’t need surgery to correct the alignment of the bone or I’d have been off a lot longer but the thought of a week without pole, let alone what turned out to be 2 months was my idea of hell.
I felt totally lost. I suddenly had all this time that I couldn’t even enjoy because without a fully functioning right hand there wasn’t much I could do. Walking the dogs was impossible by myself and thankfully my husband managed to get time off to look after me because even brushing my teeth was awkward let alone anything more complicated. Despite the fact I couldn’t use my hand it hadn’t actually been very painful, not even the initial injury, so when I went along to pole class about 2 weeks into healing to see the girls I was sure I’d be able to rock out a little something on the pole. As soon as I closed my fingers around the chrome I felt it, just a twinge, but enough to make me take a step back. I was devastated. My over dramatic mind started to convince me that my grip would be forever compromised and I’d have to give up completely as I’d never be safe again. I left the studio and burst into tears. I ran into a close pole friend who gave me a hug and reminded me it had only been a couple of weeks and to just let it heal.
Fast forward another 2 weeks and the first question out of my mouth at my fit to work appointment with the consultant was ‘When can I get back on the pole?’. He disappointed me with suggesting I wait another month to make sure fracture had healed solid as the pressure of full body weight in a pull up was exactly the kind of thing that might be detrimental. So, although I was gutted, I waited and I’m glad I did as my first class back I felt absolutely nothing in my hand. The rest of me however…broken! My poor hands, baby soft without regular classes to keep my callouses up, were ripped open. It’s amazing how quickly fitness is lost and although my hubby and I were getting the dogs out regularly it was nowhere near the exercise my body has been used to for the last 3 years. Thankfully for me I didn’t feel like I’d put on much weight with being off, despite comfort eating A LOT, but I definitely felt I’d lost muscle and stamina. I did manage to surprise myself by inverting easily and rocking out a few Outside/Inside leg hand switches, Butterflies and a Flatline Scorpio with relative ease (I was convinced I wouldn’t even be able to hold myself again…thank goodness for muscle memory!).
So while I’m finally back on the right track I just want to reflect and say I know I was lucky. There are regular small injuries in our world, thankfully they are rarely life changing or threatening although there are exceptions, but my best advice is as hard as it may seem please, please, listen to the advice of your medical professional and take the necessary time to heal. If you jump back in too soon and set back your healing, you’ll be out for even longer and you’ll kick yourself. Also please don’t ignore an injury thinking it’ll sort itself out. If something looks and feels wrong, it probably is and the longer you leave some things the harder they are to recover from. If you do go to the hospital or the doctor and it turns out to be nothing you’ve not wasted anything and will give yourself the peace of mind to train without worry. Use crash mats and pole safe everyone.