One of the most common issues that new pole dancers have is struggling to grip the pole. Though it’s a common issue with multiple root causes, it’s important to address it as early as possible so you don’t stall your progress due to grip issues!
Causes of Grip Issues
There are two root causes of grip issues: sweat and lack of muscular strength. Either your hands are sweating quite a bit while you’re on the pole, or you don’t have the muscle strength in your hands, fingers, arms, and wrists yet to hold on for long periods of time.
Both of these are common, and can often be happening at the same time!
Why You’re Sweating on the Pole
Sweat is a normal human reaction to stress, high exertion, or high body heat. It’s a method of cooling yourself off!
There are three reasons most pole dancers find their hands sweaty. Some are nervous about a new move (or pole in general), some are overheated and/or exerting themselves quite a bit on the pole, and some may have hyperhidrosis, which causes excessive sweating without a particular trigger.
First and foremost, if you think you have a medical issue, take it up with your doctor. If you suspect that you have hyperhidrosis, talk to your GP as soon as possible about a diagnosis and treatment plan. Hyperhidrosis is not particularly common, but there are ways to treat it!
Sometimes if you’re in a high heat area, or you’re wearing heavy clothing while dancing, you may get too hot and your hands will start sweating. Make sure you’re wearing lightweight, sweat wicking clothing that fits closely to your body. If hair on your neck makes you feel sweaty, pull it up in a ponytail, bun, or braid.
If you aren’t training cardio of any kind, you may also be sweating due to overexertion. If this is happening, try to add a cardio routine or two into your training. Our dance fitness classes are a great option!
Nerves on the Pole
A huge issue for beginners is being nervous in class. Whether it’s fear of failure/looking “stupid” or just nervous to trust their bodyweight to the pole, that stress and anxiety is common in new pole students. This can cause sweaty hands.
If possible, try to focus on the root cause of the nervousness rather than just treating the sweat with chalk or other grip aids.
How to Improve Grip Strength
The other main problem with being able to hold the pole is grip strength! Unless you’re a rock climber or a weight lifter, you likely don’t have a high level of grip strength. The average person doesn’t need the amount of hand/arm/wrist strength that a pole dancer needs.
However, grip strength can grow! You can strengthen those muscles outside of your pole classes just like any others.
Get a Stress Ball or Grippers
Squeezing a stress ball or grippers - a training tool specifically meant to train your grip strength - will help improve the strength of your overall “crushing” grip. A stress ball will work, but if you’re planning to train more intensely you may want to invest in a couple of sets of grippers with different resistances.
Use a Hair Tie or Rubber Band
This technique is primarily for increasing finger strength. There are muscles and tendons in your fingers that can help improve your grip strength. Simply wrap the tie or band around the ends of your fingers and then move them closer together and further apart. The motion will look claw-like.
Hanging From Bars
This is probably the most helpful overall for pole, partially because it strengthens all of the muscles in the wrists, hands, and forearms, and partially because you’ll be holding a bar very like the pole.
It’s fairly simple - just grab the bar and hang with your whole bodyweight for as long as possible. You want to do this regularly to increase the time you can hang.
A variation on this that strengthens different muscles involves looping a towel or blanket over a bar and then hanging while holding onto the blanket or towel.
Finally, if you have access to dumbbells or a gym, you can do curls. Hold a dumbbell in your hand, palm up. Then curl your hand with the dumbbell towards the same arm. Make it a slow, smooth movement, and don’t forget to move your wrist while you do the curls to get the full benefit.
Here’s a full guide on improving grip strength for weight lifters, but the principle is the same.
Improving your grip strength for pole will ultimately be useful for quite a few things - including opening those stubborn jars! So make sure you stretch and strengthen your wrists to avoid injury and help you stay on the pole.