Hello Dear Danglers! Some of you are dealing with wonky knees, and I came across a few resources you might find useful. We always think of keeping our upper bodies pain & injury-free, but knees are pretty helpful too. 😉 Enjoy! Love and Pull-ups, Laura
PS – these are also great if you’re having trouble getting legs straight in any crocheted position on fabrics!
When I first fell in love with aerial silks about 14 years ago (be kind, don’t do the math), I tackled it the way I approach just about everything in my life: HEAD ON. I’m not known for moderation, and I set up a training schedule that would make Cirque du Soleil’s rehearsal schedule look like the Dolly Dinkle School of Circus. And then, I got schooled. Big time.
The Trials of Tendinitis
It started with a little burning in my arm around the deltoid muscle. I put heat on it (fatal mistake #1), got a massage (fatal mistake #2), and kept right on with my INSANE training schedule (the nail in the coffin). Within two weeks, I couldn’t even lift my arm. I was diagnosed with severe tendinitis and bursitis, and told by a doctor that I would never climb again (that’s a story for another time). Thankfully, a friend brought me to the physical therapists who treat the Soleil artists in Montreal, and they helped me get back in the air. It took about three years before I was working totally pain-free, and my shoulder was damaged irreparably (I’ll need a new one someday). So how can you avoid making the same mistakes I did? Here are some thoughts, though this is just the tip of the iceburg.
Maintain proper shoulder positioning while training. Shoulders should be pulled firmly into the socket like so: draw your shoulders away from your ears, sliding your shoulder blades down the back. Your chest should be lifted very slightly. Think of “screwing your shoulder into the socket”, and maintain this position while training. I’m going to try to post some pictures later this week so you can get a clear visual.
Train consistently. On-again-off-again training is really hard on the body. If you’ll be away from your beloved apparatus for a time (VACATION! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!), make sure you train exercises (PULL-UPS!) appropriate to your circus discipline.
BUT, don’t over-train like I did. As hungry as you are in the beginning for training, ramp it up slowly. Flinging yourself full steam into a crazy training regimen is a sure-fire way to wind up awesomely injured. Start with one or two classes a week, supported by Pilates, weight training, stretching, and whatever else your little heart desires, just ramp up GRADUALLY – you can open up a can-o-whoop-ass on yourself as you get stronger.
Pay attention to sensation. Feeling a burning, grinding, clicking, or other pain in your shoulder (or any other) joint? STOP. Get thee to a doctor, and take a break. When you’re ready to come back, make some time with your coach to have your form evaluated (** a bit of candor here – not all aerial teachers are well-versed in proper shoulder alignment. Can they speak knowledgeably about the structure of the joint, etc? Something to keep in mind.)
Ice preventatively, treat inflammation aggressively. It’s never a bad idea to ice your shoulders (or other iffy areas for you) after class or a workout whether you have pain or not – break out those frozen peas! Heat + inflammation = more inflammation, so step awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay from the heating pad until you know what you’re dealing with. NSAIDs (ibuprofin, etc.), cortizone shots, and physical therapy are common items in the Western artillery to treat inflammation. I’ve had phenomenal results with acupuncture, and lots of folks swear by their chiropractors.
Chocolate and Flowers?
Keeping shoulders happy is quite the endeavor – I’m still learning a lot! It’s a funny joint: lots of mobility = lots of instability. Have you had shoulder issues? What worked for you? What didn’t? Share share share! Love and pull-ups, Laura
UPDATE: Many thanks to Heather from Asheville Aerial Arts for the awesome comment about the “Thrower’s 10” – resources below!
Working in the air, we discover a whole new world of hurt (am I right, peeps?). Some ouchies are best treated with conventional methods (immobilization, surgery, meds, etc.). But what about the muscular imbalances (and the pain, inflammation, and limitations that go with them) that aren’t easily treated by your doc’s bag of tricks? Enter the world of alternative treatments & bodywork – your new best friend! In the coming year, we’ll be checking out all sorts of awesomeness, from acupuncture to restorative yoga – stay tuned!
Today’s awesomeness is brought to us by the amazing Angela Buccinni, who is getting rave reviews from some of my students. As a dancer and aerialist, she knows from whence she speaks! Below is some information on Muscle Activation Technique from her website (with permission), hope you find it helpful! If you’re in NYC, give her a shout & check out her site! Love and pull-ups, Laura