How to Work Around a Shoulder Injury?

Isis Kane
Earlier this week, I discovered that I have a shoulder injury. Judging from personal research, I'm pretty sure I've strained my rotator cuff and/or scapula.

I'm not sure how long I'll be off the pole (hopefully not too long!) but I don't want to let this hold me back from practicing and making progress. I know I shouldn't do anything that requires me to hold myself on the pole, but I'm wondering if it's safe to practice floorwork if it's stuff that's not too heavy on the shoulders? I'm feeling a little iffy about something like the "tush push" even though it's one of my favorites. I also ordered some resistance bands so I can do shoulder strengthening and flexy exercises.

I looked at Veena's lessons and saw some transitions that might be good to learn and revise, so that helps. So far, I've been doing core and spine strengthening exercises, flexy training, and I'm also going to incorporate leg strength, as well. Any other ideas?

This injury has been a blessing in the sense that I've had to slow down and refine everything I've learned since I started several months ago...But It still sucks, y'all. Don't be so over-zealous with pole that you neglect proper form, or else you'll have to take some time off altogether. There is a specific, detailed technique to everything-take the time to learn it and build a strong foundation. :-)
Jan 12, 2014
If, indeed, you have a rotator cuff strain of any kind, you should NOT move that shoulder. Any kind of backpack swinging, rotation of your shoulder, weight... just leave it alone. I'm serious.
I've known people who have strained, strained, strained... and then it tore. They pushed it too far and didn't rest it, and it really did go rip. She is in constant pain, she is rarely even able to lift a cup of milk, she's practically disabled.
Rotator cuff is really, really touchy, and really important. Even sitting still, doing nothing, may cause you pain. It's horrible. I get tendonitis in the rotator cuff now and then, and it is absolute hell.
I know how frustrating it is to be off pole, but... seriously, if you don't want to take the risk, I'd say seek a doctor. You don't want to take any risks with your shoulder.
Jan 12, 2014
I've had two major shoulder injuries due to pole. I lost 6 months to the first one and nearly a year to the second. I would strongly recommend seeking professional medical guidance rather than attempting to self diagnose. The shoulder girdle is an incredibly complicated joint and you run the risk of making your problem worse (or even permanent) if you try to treat it yourself.

That being said, there's certainly a lot of things you can work on while you're rehabbing the injury. The things you mentioned are all great ideas. Also, now is perhaps a good time to polish spins and other predominantly one-handed moves on the non-injured side? Just make sure you're paying attention to what your body is telling you when you're working out / practicing. If something's painful or feels wrong, stop and move on to something else.

Good luck and I hope you have a speedy recovery!
Jan 12, 2014
Oh, another thought. I did private pilates classes throughout my last injury, with the instructor providing modifications based on what my shoulder could and could not handle at the time. When I finally returned to poling, I discovered I hadn't lost any strength during my time off. You may want to look into a similar sort of cross training.
Jan 12, 2014
Isis Kane
Thank you for these helpful responses :-)

I will see a doctor about this just to make sure, and get professional advice, just to make sure of my limits. I will probably go light on the floorwork until then. On the bright side, my shoulder doesn't feel as crappy today as it did yesterday, so maybe (hopefully!) I'm doing something right.
Jan 12, 2014
I'm a physical therapist and see shoulder injuries all day long, plus I suffered from one myself when I first started. It's best to rehab the shoulder before getting back into. That said focus on strengthening your rotator cuff AND scapula stabilizers. Focus on rows, pect stretches (30 second holds) and strengthening the rotator cuff. You can google rotator cuff strengthening exercises to get a couple.
Jan 12, 2014
While you need to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder to help prevent reinjury in the future, the best way for a quick recovery is using cold compression to get and keep inflammation down allowing blood to flow properly, rest to avoid re-aggravation and a blood flow stimulator to increase blood flow. Your blood carries oxygen and nutrients to rebuild damaged tissues. I have used this method on my ankle and old knee injury. I thought my knee was never going to heal, it turns out I kept re-aggravating it before I could finish the healing cycle. Anyways if you want to see the one I'm talking about check out this site:

Jan 12, 2014
i hurt my shoulder a few years ago poling & i actually dislocated my bicep! don't pole until you get it checked out & get the OK from a medical professional. i went to a chiropractor & he fixed me up so i didn't have to take much time off :) when you do start poling again make sure you take extra time to warm up your shoulders every time you pole, that will help you prevent new injuries.
Jan 13, 2014
The lessons in the conditioning section have a bunch of exercise that you should work on before you start pole dancing again, I believe there's 10. []

Avoid things like one handed spins, until you've really build a good foundation again! This video is helpful in preventing shoulder injury.

Jan 13, 2014
Absolutely go and see a doctor or physio if you think you've done damage to your rotator cuff. It's such a large group of muscles and even once you're no longer in 'pain' the muscles may still be weak so if you don't rehab them properly and build the strength back up it's too easy to damage them again.
I tore my rotator cuff when I was 15 and holy moly it was agony. For about two years I could not move my shoulder at all. (With physio appointments every week) I wore it constantly in a sling because even just having it by my side was putting too much pressure on it. Then when I took the sling off and tried to move it, even with physical therapy I could not lift my arm higher than my shoulder. I seriously thought I was going to be disabled in that arm. I've spent the last 6 years very aware of my rotator cuff and trying to protect, strengthen and stretch it.
So just be very, very careful.

I'm kind of hesitant to even say 'google exercises to do' because you don't know what you've hurt or what you've actually done. Shoulders are too important, go see a dr!
Jan 13, 2014
I am in the process of rehabbing my shoulder from a 90% tear that I had surgery on in December, it still hurts a lot! I'm going to physical therapy and doing my exercises but I have to say I am eager to get back on the pole…..from where I stand now it's going to be months, at least. It's very frustrating because I do a lot of yoga as well and I am extremely limited in what movement I can do now. I tore my rotator cuff from doing pole, I obviously wasn't using proper body mechanics so please be careful….as Runemist said this is really serious stuff!
good luck!
Jan 14, 2014
Just another poler chiming in. When I first got into this several years ago, pole was a different world. We were only just starting to really understand how to prevent injury in training, as there just hadn't been a focus on that before. But we were just coming out of an era where the superman was considered a top tier advanced trick. Soon, we entered a world of twisted grip handsprings and then it all went psycho from there.

By the time I was 6 months into poling, I was already experiencing shoulder problems. We started to get the basic safety info out and I got smarter, but the damage was done. At about 2.5-3yrs into my pole journey, my shoulders took a turn and I was basically incapacitated. I couldn't even hold my purse in my left hand-this was no longer a matter of pain to work around, my arm would physically and involuntarily give out if I put any weight on it. It was a "30 day push-up challenge" type thing that put me over the edge. As a result I took about a year of rest and completely 100% altering the way I approached pole in order to heal. It changed my relationship with pole completely. And this was something that could have been prevented by 12 weeks of rest and 2 weeks of physical therapy almost five years ago. Five. Years. Ago.
It's a lot better now, but I am still training around the tightness and limitation in my mobility which sadly now interferes with my training in back bending. You need excellent shoulder flexibility for back bends, something I didn't realize when I started. All of this plus my limited interactions with the "pros" made me realize: most of us started pole because we believed in our hearts that if we could do this, we would feel good. We started for our wellness. Most of the professionals we so admire are constantly training around really severe injuries. I mean really severe, really painful injuries that will cost them heavy consequences in the long term. They do this for the sake of making their bodies do a certain thing with a certain aesthetic. The professionals we admire make the choice to specifically sacrifice and jeopardize their wellness to enhance the end result. I believe that with pole we all have to decide what it means to us, and know completely and clearly why we're here. Because we all have to make that choice in the end: are you training for your wellness, or are you training to make your body do what it takes to win?

Just my two cents on recovery and the role of injury in my training as I near the half decade mark in my pole life.
Jan 14, 2014
Coincidence has it that I wrote a blog post about how no pain, no gain is a HUGE lie we're told.


Please note, when I refer to dancers asking how to get around an injury, IN NO WAY was I referring to this thread. Gata's post here was clearly not about "how can I keep using my shoulder to do all of my tricks even though it's effed up?" and more about "my shoulder won't stop me from doing floorwork and other fun related things while I rehab it, will it?"
Jan 14, 2014
I wound up with bursitis in both shoulders and in a lot of pain. i finally went to a chiropracter and after about 3 months i was on the road to recovery. I do shoulder conditioning 4 times a day and ice almost every night. Shoulder mount is back and looking real good. Silver lining is I hurt right shoulder first so I was forced to learn shoulder mount on left side!(Cause I wasn't going to stop doing shoulder mount< my favorite trick!)
Jan 14, 2014
Junes Pole Dance Paid Member
I must say, reading all this really scares me... As i also have one trouble shoulder. But, it also wakes me up a bit, to understand how extremely important it is, to not overdo stuff in the start and to stop a while if the body says so. Hopefully i'm not too late already. Wish you all the best and a fun and safe polejourney:)
Jan 14, 2014
So glad I found this post! I’m having shoulder surgery a week from today, to repair a complete rotator cuff tear, and a partial tear - both in my right shoulder!
I’m really hoping I will be able to return to pole eventually.. I was also doing Lyra which I fell in love with, in just the same as I did with pole.
Jan 3, 2020
Colleen Paid Member
When I injured my shoulder, stretching exercises brought it back.
Jan 4, 2020
TheMomNextDoor Previous Paid Member
Teaching is a true gift and Veena has it. Besides an amazing performer, she thoroughly breaks down and demonstrates each move. I love the lessons! Being online makes them super flexible. And they are so affordable! Perfect!
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