Stretching is not a warm up

Being a busy girl myself, I know how tempting it is to skip the warm up at the beginning of your next pole class. Maybe you’re running late, or you have just done another class before … so you check your phone, grab a drink, change outfit and its ok to skip the start of the next class because you are already WARM, right?…… Uh uh – WRONG.

I define warming up as preparing the body and mind for the upcoming task or exercise. Pole dancing commonly requires full weight bearing through the arms – think climbing or supporting your weight as you get into position. This is a significant load on the upper body in terms of strength and with faster moves muscle power is required.

So, you did a stretch class before your pole class? Has that really prepared your arms for the loads discussed above? Highly unlikely. In fact, some studies have shown that static stretching to be detrimental to performance and injury prevention!

Let’s break this down. Our muscles are made up of 2 main fibre types

Type 1 – slow twitch fibres – these guys are slow to act, produce less force, but are slow to fatigue (think of these as our endurance fibres)

Type 2 – fast twitch fibres – these fibres act quickly, can produce higher forces and tend to fatigue quickly (think of these like our power fibres)

Our muscles contain both types of fibres, but the ratio of slow twitch to fast twitch differs depending on the role of the muscle and its location.

Static stretching is thought to relatively decrease the activation of type 2 fibres – resulting in there being a higher proportion of type 1 fibres ready to act. Does this sound like the best preparation for swinging your bodyweight around? Having a greater proportion of the slow acting fibres to hold your whole body weight up? I think not.

A good warm up involves more dynamic movement, which is thought to help increase the activation of the type 2 fibres. So, don’t skip the burpees at the start of class just because you have done a class prior. The active warm-up is not just about making you sweat, but about preparing the body to be ready for the chosen activity. Your instructor will choose appropriate warm up activities based on what they are going to go through with you in that class.

Glenda Walters
Hanger 66 – Instructor
H66 – Physiotherapist