Monday, March 25, 2013

Pole Poll: Do you train on both sides?

Last month on Facebook, I posted a pole poll asking how many dancers train on both sides.  At Twirly Girls, we generally only learn on our dominant side.  Bel's theory is that baseball players don't bat using their non-dominant side, so doing tricks and twirls on our non-dominant side may be setting our bodies up for more injury.

There are many people who do not subscribe to this theory.  I have heard many argue that you don't want one strong arm and one itty, bitty weak one.  I haven't noticed a huge difference in my bicep size on either arm.  But especially for those who compete or perform professionally, having the strength and grace to perform tricks on both sides seems to be very, very important.  One person put it to me this way, if you get waaaaay up there on the pole and something bad happens to your dominant side, you want to have the strength to get yourself down safely using your non-dominant side. 

Here are some comments left in response to my question (I am posting them anonymously, but if you'd like to claim your comment, please let me know and I will happily credit you). 

YES, I am a broken record on this.  Always train both sides to protect your body from injury, plus sometimes you need to get into certain moves from something else on your bad side.

...All my students know to as well...Training on one side only leads to muscle imbalances which, in turn, can lead to postural imbalance as well...

Yes.  I usually start with my easier side but you should always do both sides for balance of strength and ability.  Also aesthetically, you want your muscle tone to be event. 

Both, always.  That way I build up both sides equally and it improves my over all strength.  I am way better on my dominant side, but there are a few moves I actually do better on the weaker side.  I teach making my students do both sides also. 

I always try to train both sides to maintain each strength, unless it is something complex that is more technique based than strength based, in which case I go "strong" side in order to get it as good as possible.

Always!  You never know when you'll need to transition out of something and end up on your non-dominant side. 

Yes, my instructors don't enforce it much but I sneak in a little on my own every class and practice session.  I occasionally do a whole lower level class on my other side too.  I just feel something isn't right when I leave classes with my right upper everything killing me and my left side feeling almost nothing. 

Obviously the popular answer is yes.  But I am a no.  Personally, I put myself int a lot of danger trying to do things on my opposite side.  It's a brain communicating to my body thing rather than a "strength" thing.  (This does not include basic spins and such.  Those I'm cool with being ambi.)

Absolutely!  How could ya not?  Wouldn't go to the gym and only do free weights on one side...

Yes yes yes!  There are some tricks that I still can't muster on both sides, like twisted grip and ayesha.  But any move that I teach, I do on both sides.  I read that the biggest contributor to back pain and injury among athletes is lopsided muscle development in the torso.  Muscles are strong enough to literally pull and twist your spine out of alignment. 

MUST!

Balance.  PERIOD.

I received many, many responses to my question, but those are some of my favorites.  In Sean Michael's class, I have started doing a few things on my non-dominant side.  I'm three and a half years into pole dancing, so it feels very awkward.  But I am also still barely over beginner-intermediate in my moves, so I haven't advanced to the moves that cause the kind of muscle gain that might make ambidextrous moves more important. 

How about you?  Do you train both sides?  Why or why not?

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