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Category Archives: Injuries

Are You Risking Your Life for a Drop?

And kind of a lame drop, at that? This, Dear Danglers, is a video posted by Ms Rebekah Leach on how a drop called “The Kamikaze” could leave you paralysed, or worse. This is one of several drops I do not teach because I consider it TOO RISKY – it’s just not worth it. Rebekah writes,


“The Kamikaze Drop is one of the most dangerous drops there is on fabric. If you do a double crossing and you do the second crossing incorrectly, then it undoes the first one and you will come right out of the drop. This is what has paralyzed one aerialist (from the waist down), and injured several others. The reason I am talking about it today is that it is described in Kayla Dyches’ book “The Aerialist’s Companion,” which was initially published in 2011. In her book, there is no mention of what makes the drop safe/unsafe. She has mentioned that this is a formatting oversight and she is working to correct the issue in the book. But for anyone who purchased her book prior to January 2013, they will not be informed about the danger of this drop.- DO NOT attempt the Kamikaze Drop or do so with the utmost caution knowing exactly how to protect yourself from doing it incorrectly.”


Friends, remember – learning aerial skills from a book or a video is a recipe for injury. Please pass this on!!! Many thanks to Rebekah for making and posting this incredibly important video. Love and pull-ups, Laura





As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.


5 Ways to Bounce Your Booty Back Faster After a Break

I was 4 months post-partum. Things were still harder than I wanted them to be!

Happy New Year, Dear Danglers!!!! Welcome back! OK – hands up if you completely abandoned your training and ate too much Deliciousness over the holidays! ME TOO. Seriously? My winter coat is tight. Oh dear. Time to get back in the game! So how do you jump back in safely and fabulously after being away for a few weeks? A few months? A Year? Grab some cawfee and we’ll tawk. And pass me a butter cookie….


Why You Were Away Matters

So, why were you away? Vacation? Pregnancy & birth? Injury? Slacking? The reason for your absence matters a lot, and can give you a more realistic timeline for returning to your previous level of awesomeness. For example, if you just had a baby, you are realistically looking at 8 weeks between birth and the time you can get back in the air (not counting the months when that SPECTACULAR baby bump made that trapeze too crowded to do anything but pose on). Injured? You can only go as quickly as your injury will allow. Even a two week vacation can mess with your game when you’re in the early days of romancing an apparatus.


I know, I hear you – you want to be back to your rock star self TODAY RIGHT NOW THIS VERY MINUTE PLEASE. I get it – it’s no fun to feel like you worked your fanny off just to see that hard work go out the window with some eggnog, a two week Real Housewives marathon, and an entire cheesecake (or, you know, four…). So, as I heave myself back into the air, I invite you to do the same, and keep this on your radar.


5 Ways to Get Back in the Game Faster

1 – Don’t hurt yourself by going balls to the wall day one! Take your temperature (not literally, unless you really want to), see where you are, and never gage success by the first day back. Push yourself too hard in your frustration, and you could wind up with an injury that will prolong your hiatus! This especially applies to returning to aerial work after having a baby. Hello? You just made a person and catapulted them into the world! Cut yourself some slack!


2 – Trust the training & be where you are (I spent a half an hour trying to insert a little gong sound here. I failed, so GONGGGGGGGG!). Not to get all Zen on you, but you are where you are where you are, and no amount of beating yourself up is going to change that. Take it from me – you’ll be back in the game WAY sooner than you think! Breathe and train.


3 – Avoid mental games. Right about this time, your Inner Meanie is going to rear it’s ugly head, and try to convince you that it’s-all-pointless-the-hard-work-is-all-gone-you-suck-and-you’ll-never-have-that-hip-key-again. This is not true. You had it once, you will have it again. Shut up, Meanie.


4 – Do your best work. Cut yourself some slack? Yes. Let yourself off the hook and make excuses? NO. Work as hard and as diligently as you safely can – you’ll feel good knowing that even if you’re not back to where you were, you did your absolute best and that matters more. It really does. Remember: this is temporary!


5 – Visualize & remember. By session 3, you’ll likely have a good idea of where you actually are and what needs your attention. Review your notes on these moves and see if you’re slipped back into poor technique which may be holding you back. Try to remember in your mind and body what that move felt like, and see if you can come any closer to recapturing that sensation.


At the end of the day, it really does boil down to two things: 1) patience 2) realistic expectations. Take a deep breath, and accept where you are. Tough love: you don’t have a choice. Focus on the step just in front of you, and really celebrate every move forward – you’ll be back to your badass self in no time at all! Love and pull-ups, Laura



As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.


You Weren’t Using Those Joints, Were You? 5 Essential Tips for Injury-Free Shoulders

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3.  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.
  4.  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.)
  5. 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!

Thrower’s 10 Shoulder Exercises PDF:’s%2010.pdf

This is part one of a 10 part video series – amazing!

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When The Show Must Go On: Performing Aerials When You’re Sick

In Portugal - we thought our costumes were funny....


My aerial partner Angela and I were going straight from India to Portugal, where we were to begin a two month contract at the Casino Estoril. FABULOUS! We were so careful while in India – only ate steaming cooked foods, drank bottled water, etc. Our flight to Portugal was fine, and the next morning we hung our trapeze and settled in up there for about 10 minutes while they focused our lights. It was then that disaster struck. Let’s just say that it was the longest 10 minutes of our lives, and the rest of the day wasn’t pretty. So, what if this had been a show day? When are you too sick to go on? Grab your Pepto and read on.


How Sick is Too Sick?

Now, let’s be clear. When I say “illness”, I don’t mean ebola. If the phrase “do you want me to hold your hair” is in play, hanging upside down is probably not in your immediate future. Generally speaking, if you are sick enough to know yourself to be unsafe, there is no question – you cannot perform.

How To Get Through That Show

A cold or mild flu is another story. Now, I can’t tell you what YOU should do, but I can tell you what has worked for us in the past.

  • If we were battling congestion, aches, etc., we used an over the counter fever reducer like Tylenol & a decongestant spray like Afrin (avoid system-wide cold meds like the plague when you’re performing – they dry you out and really do a number on you). This generally kept our heads from exploding when we went upside down, and got us through a number of shows.
  • Saline nasal sprays have been helpful too for light congestion
  • Day of the show, rest as much as you can and hydrate like mad
  • We found that the adrenaline of performing often made us feel better! For about 15 minutes anyway….


How To Cancel That Show

 My general rule is this: if you’re so sick that you would give up concert tickets you stayed up for four days to get, you’re too sick to perform. Give the people who hired you as much of a heads up as you can. If you can line up a replacement for yourself, so much the better!  You should have an injury or illness clause in your contract that essentially says that if you are very ill or injured at the time of the show, you are released from your contract (they also have no obligation to pay you).


Take two and call me in the morning, lovelies! Love and pull-ups, Laura


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Bodywork Profile: Muscle Activation Technique (MAT) with Angela Buccinni

Angela Buccinni

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


What is MAT?

 MAT is a unique system biomechanics based system designed to identify and then correct muscular imbalances in your body that lead to pain, inflexibility, and limited physical performance.

This system corrects the inefficiencies in your neuro-muscular system, and eliminates the weak links that would otherwise be magnified by exercise. 

With MAT, proper function is restored to your body, so your physical ability will be enhanced, and any muscle tightness and joint pain will be eliminated.

How Will MAT Help Me?

 Once they are activated, the muscles can work correctly to stabilize and control joints.

 The body will no longer need to compensate in movement, which translates into better performance of activities in everyday life or such as exercise or sports.

 For more information, go to

And here’s a nifty video!


What’s YOUR favorite alternative treatment for pain?

A Hot Topic: Avoiding Silk Burns

 Why We Burn

We’ve all been there – you climb up to do a seemingly harmless move and YOWZAHS!!! Silk burn! Never fear, Dear Dangler, help is on the way.

Why do we burn, anyway? Well, it surely isn’t rocket science – it’s friction! Some friction is good, and helps us maintain our position on the fabric. But, friction has an evil stepsister – HEAT. When you add in 80+ degree temperatures and rising humidity (which, predictably, increases friction), you generate enough heat to actually burn the skin; sexy welts, oozing sores, and leperosy open gashes are the result. We most often burn on the lower back, behind the knee, and the dreaded armpit burn (can we all agree that those are the worst?).


When it’s Not a Burn

When is a burn not a burn? When it’s an abrasion! When the humidity rises, there’s even more fun to be had. The silks can stick to the skin, resulting in an uneven, rash-like area, which scabs over quickly, but is often very sore until it heals. We most often find abrasions on shoulders, lower back, and thighs (again, did I mention how sexy this is?).


OK, Miss Know-It-All, How do we Prevent Them?

Oh, you’re gonna hate my answer: long leggings, long sleeves, and unitards; essentially, an aerial burka. Your best defense against burns is fabric – the thicker the better. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you don a chunky wool sweater in July, but protective clothing goes a loooooooong way towards keeping you intact. Thick leggings make a world of difference, start there. A long-sleeved t shirt that extends past your hips is your best defense against lower back and armpit trauma, and you can take it on and off as needed. And, of course, you’ll want to hold off on some of the moves that are almost guaranteed to leave skin on the fabric (Plummeting Whore, anyone?).


 First Aid for Your Burned Bod

You want to keep your ouchie moist and covered to help it heal faster, and reduce the risk of scarring and infection. My first pick is Burts Bees Res-Q Ointment – it’s got all sorts of good things in there that will heal you up nice and quick (I don’t love antibiotic ointments like Neosporin because it’s overkill – you don’t need it unless your burn gets infected). Medical tape and a light layer of gauze will keep your clothing from rubbing against them, and you’re good to go!

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