Dealing with Rib Injuries from Pole
How to recover from a Rib Injury
One of the more common injuries I see at the clinic coming from the pole studio is the rib injury. These types of injuries can truly sideline you for a few weeks. I typically see two different types of rib injuries. These injuries both involve the rib cage but at different areas along the cage and involve different muscles.
The most common rib injury is typically at the costovertebral joint, commonly referred to as the “rib head”. The rib head is the area where the rib meets the spine. This type of injury occurs when the head of the rib “slips” slightly from its joint on the spine. The rib head injury occurs when the muscles stabilizing the shoulder blades and the spinal column are not developed enough. Building strength in the muscles between the shoulder blades and along the spine is critical to preventing this type of injury. Watch the videos on shoulder conditioning as well as the accompanying video to this article to understand the muscles that govern the shoulder joint and learn the exercises to prevent rib head injury.
The second type of rib injury common to pole is the sprain/strain of the intercostal muscles along the ribs. This injury is the worst. I feel sorry for those of you who have had to suffer through this injury. There is very little that can be done for a sprain/strain of the intercostals. This is typically due to a dysfunction in the motor control of the anterior core musculature when coupling with lower body movement. The portions of the anterior core musculature that are involved are primarily the abdominals (rectus and transversus), the internal and external obliques, the anterior and posterior serratus, the lats, the pectoralis major and minor, the intercostalis, and the iliopsoas. The strength is not the problem but rather how the muscles interact with each other. We need to improve the balance between the left and right side anterior core musculature as well as how our core transmits force between the upper and lower body. Any weakness along the muscular chain of events that occurs when the shoulder is stabilized and the lower body is moved about the axis that is created at the shoulder (such as when you perform Handspring, Iron X, Dead-lifts into handspring, etc.) can create a muscular strain as well as a fascial strain. This type of strain takes the longest amount of time to heal due to the damage on not just the muscle itself but the fascial covering of the muscle as well the connective tissue. A muscle heals much faster than fascia or connective tissue. Check out the video on core balance to understand how to strengthen your core more effectively. The treatment for this injury is primarily to rest. A solid two weeks off the pole is a start. This injury may take up to 6-8 weeks of complete rest to heal entirely. During this time all upper body movements that involve the core should be limited severely or eliminated completely. This would be the ideal time to improve your floor work and flexibility. In addition to rest, the best treatment is to apply kinesiotape on the injured area to give the area more support and then wrap a bandage around the entire rib cage to compress the area. Finding a qualified health practitioner that uses microcurrent therapy can also speed up the process. Check out the accompanying video to this article to learn exactly how to tape up your injury.
To those of you who have not had the pleasure of the dreaded rib injury, count yourself as a lucky one. Rib injuries are no fun, but they certainly aren’t guaranteed to happen to everyone. With a little bit of strengthening and preparation you can avoid ever getting one.
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