When I started pole dancing several years ago, I was quite self-conscious about my bruises. As a matter of fact, I had several people who saw them hand me a card with a number for abused women! I appreciated the concern and assured them I was OK.


People don't get it - pole dancing is a workout that is meant to make you feel and look great, so how come every pole dancer ends up black and blue? We all know the feeling when we get home after class and find ourselves covered in bruises. In fact, we are kind of proud of them. We give them special names, like Pole Kisses, Pole Scars or Badges of Honor!


Is bruising really supposed to happen?


Sorry, the answer is yes! Bruising happens in all kinds of sports - martial arts, football, hockey; even horseback riding, figure skating and gymnastics. Contact doesn’t have to mean body contact with another person, it can be contact with the saddle, the mat or the ice.


In pole dancing we bruise because of our contact with the pole. The good news is that bruises lessen as we gain skill at pole dancing. As beginners, we learn pole spins and we bang our legs on the pole. We overgrip and develop bruises all over our legs and wrists. Over time we learn how to engage ourselves with the pole in such a way as to not unnecessarily bang our body parts against it, and we develop the needed strength to control these skills. All that comes with practice.


Even as advanced pole dancers we still get our “badges of honor” from new moves when we need to rely on the stickiness of our skin to hold us up on the pole. Our points of contact will still get bruised, but we are much less likely to freak about it and much more likely to be proud of them. The numerous Facebook and Instagram pages devoted to pole bruises are the proof!


How can I minimize my chance of getting pole bruises?


As a teacher I like to tell my beginner students when teaching them their first spins "PLACE your legs on the pole" to discourage them from banging into it, and "do not use your DEATH GRIP, let the pole slide through your hand" so they avoid wrist burns. Also I encourage them to take it slow and walk through their new moves slowly first.


Can poling be dangerous?


Poling is no more or less dangerous than any other sport. Aside from the danger of taking a nasty fall - which can happen to you while walking through your own home! - the main damage done to us polers is bruising and the occasional sprain or strain.


What causes bruising?


Bruising occurs when capillaries under your skin get damaged, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. Severe bruising can happen and can be serious, but most pole-inflicted bruises are pretty superficial and clear up quickly. Just try not to aggravate the damaged area so your body has time to repair itself. I’d like to point out that the only real worry would be about certain medications or supplements that could interfere with your body’s ability to heal because they slow the clotting factor of your blood; these include blood thinners, aspirin, Aleve, fish oil, ginko, and alcohol. Medications that thin the skin, such as cortosteroids (often taken for conditions such as asthma or eczema), can cause more bruising than normal.


In case of a bruise


You are probably wondering, “what can I do to help my bruised body to recover faster, so I can go back to pole dancing class?” Here are a few tip for dealing with pole bruises.


  • Use an ice pack (or frozen bag of peas so that it will conform to whatever body part you are icing) to reduce swelling. Ice the area 3-4 times a day for 10-20 minutes.

  • Take acetaminophen or a small dose of ibuprofen as directed on bottle for pain.  NO ASPIRIN because it will prolong bleeding!

  • After 48 hours, apply warm compresses for 10 minutes, 2-3 times/day.

  • Try Arnica Gel: This is a non-greasy, non-sticky gel that quickly absorbs into the skin to reduce inflammation.  It's indicated for bruises, strained joints,muscles, ligaments and tendons. You can also take it sublingually in tablet form (under your tongue for faster absorption into the bloodstream).  

  • Traumeel: This is a combination of homeopathic ingredients that reduce pain and inflammation while promoting tissue regeneration.

  • Epsom salts: Soak in a warm, not hot, Epsom salt bath. Epsom salts works wonders for your skin as well as relieving muscle soreness, aches and inflammation. A few drops of lavender oil are also calming and relaxing.

  • Eat fresh pineapple. Pineapple contains anti-inflammatory bromelain!

  • If it’s not painful for you, gently massage the affected area to encourage blood flow.

  • Avoid alcohol as it may increase blood thinning.


What do the pros do?


Yes, even the pros still bruise. Their skin becomes a bit harder and the muscle underneath toughens and thickens to protect them from impacts, but even they end up with a nice collection of bruises after learning new tricks. The pros are not bothered by their bruises, they simply learned how to carry a large supply of cover up.


Keep on poling, my friends and take care of your bruises! (Take pictures, too, and post them on our social media pages!)