Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
You got really excited about a new skill or trick, or maybe you got really excited about starting aerial or pole training.
You started training as much as you could, and working on the same skill or skills over and over again. You felt amazing, and strong, and invincible!
But then you noticed some pain in your shoulder. Or maybe your butt. Or your back. You tried resting, and it got a little better, but then it came back. You tried foam rolling, icing, heating, epsom salt baths, and nothing really helped it go all the way away.
So you just kind of accepted it. My shoulder is weird, my back goes out. My hamstrings are tight.
This is normal, right?
Circus hurts, right?
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this from someone, I’d have at least $5. And many of those nickels would be from myself!
Here’s the thing. Being in chronic pain because of circus, aerial, or pole is NOT NORMAL. Even if it’s not a lot of pain, or big pain. Having regular physical discomfort from your training beyond some muscle soreness means that you’re injured or at risk of injury.
And you don’t have to live with it.
When I first discovered aerial and circus, I trained as much as I could, and pushed myself as hard as I could. It didn’t take long for me to start having regular pain and discomfort in various parts of my body. For me it was a spot between my shoulder blades, my low back, and my butt.
I kept pushing, working on getting stronger and more flexible, and figured that all that pain was just part of my life now. Everyone else I knew had the same problems- a spot that never got all the way better, muscles that were too tight and needed to be stretched into submission. Quick, somebody sit on me!
It wasn’t until all these little aches and pains started turning into real, full blown injuries that I realized that my whole approach to training was hurting me.
The final straw was when I sprained my SI joint. I was sitting on the floor during a meeting, gently stretching and I felt a *thunk* in my low back. 2 hours later I could barely walk. I had to sleep on the couch for a week because I was afraid to climb into my loft bed. I missed work because I couldn’t stand up. I had to get advanced students to demo for me in my classes. It took months for me to regain any sort of normal movement, and it’s an injury that I continue to deal with to this day.
While rehabbing that injury, I learned that all that repetitive movement I’d been doing- leg lifts, inversions, tricks over and over on the same side- had left me incredibly imbalanced in my body. And that imbalance made me vulnerable.
In order to recover, I had to slow down. I had to start balancing out my body, strengthening all the little muscles that support my joints, and working on the parts of my body that had been neglected with my skill specific tunnel vision.
But as I was working on the process, an amazing thing started to happen:
All those aches and pains I’d accepted as normal started to disappear! I didn’t have a knot between my shoulder blades all the time, the pain in my right butt was gone!
And when I was ready to resume training again, it didn’t come back. When I started working on my flexibility again, my “bad” split wasn’t bad anymore. I hadn’t stretched in 6 months, and yet not only had I not lost significant flexibility, I was more even and felt more in control!
Often when we’re experiencing pain like this, it’s because our bodies aren’t strong enough to support the work that we’re trying to do.
That doesn’t mean that you’re not strong, just that some parts aren’t as strong as other parts.
Turns out, creating that more balanced sense of strength isn’t that hard to do. You just need to know WHAT to do.
Want help with this?
I’d love for you to join me in the next session of the Regular Person’s Guide to Aerial Conditioning At Home:
An ONLINE and LIVE program to help you master aerial without the frustration of lack of progress or injuries.
This isn’t a course where you download some videos and you’re on your way. I’ll be there to answer all your questions, give you personal feedback, and help you navigate the process, so you can practice aerial without the nagging pain and injuries.
The program starts February 1st, so there’s still time to join.