When I first started pole dancing, I thought „Damn, my shoulders are tight! I need to increase their range of motion, if I want to be able to perform awesome tricks and stay injury-free.“
I admit, it took me almost two years though to realize that the best way to get flexible shoulders is by doing specific shoulder stretching exercises and not expecting it to be a side effect of backbends training.
So I started doing shoulder stretching exercises two times per week, assuming that my shoulders are too tight. And after a couple of weeks I noticed that they had already become MUCH more flexible. I had heard before that shoulder’s flexibility is relatively easy and fast to gain, but I didn’t expect them to become that flexible in such a short period of time. Flexibility trainers started even telling me how bendy my shoulders were. At the same time, I’ve heard people stretching their shoulders for years and only slowly making progress.
I realized since that my shoulders weren’t actually tight before – they were normal, with a tendency to hypermobility in fact. In reality, I had just never really stretched them specifically before. So, my joy of bendy shoulders quickly turned to concern, that they might become too loose, not strong enough and injury-prone. In fact, the Nr. 1 most common injury amongst pole dancers is in the shoulders (rotator cuff) due to lack of engagement.
If the shoulders are too tight, your range of motion is limited in this area and it might lead to an injury. However if you are naturally hypermobil, this usually leads to a lack of muscular support around the joints (body’s attempt to move via the path of least resistance), which could be even more dangerous.
The sweet spot is stabilization where it’s too flexible and mobilization where it’s too stable. Dynamic and active stretches do exactly this – they elongate and strengthen the muscles at the same time.
I’ve put my favorite shoulder mobility exercises in this video and you can totally do them at home. I’d recommend to integrate the dynamic warmup exercises from the video into your regular training’s warmup routine. It is easier and of much more value to fit in 5min of shoulder exercises into every training routine than finding 50min for a whole shoulder routine every now and then.
If you have tight shoulders, then the passive Couch, Wall and Pole Stretches at the end of the video might be just right for you. Otherwise, feel free to skip them.
Join the conversation: Which type of shoulders do you have and how do you handle it? Let me know in the comments below.