Drippy, Slippy or Perfectly Sticky?!


If you’re just starting out on your pole journey, you may be wondering why we would be banging on about grip. You’ve been worried you might not be able to lift your own body weight or that you can’t do the splits, but surely your hands will be fine… It’s all in the arm and core muscles right? Well actually, your hands and all other grip points used to keep you on the pole are the real life savers (literally!) and we’re about to find out about hands that are too sweaty, legs that are too dry and days that are just too damn sticky!  

It’s a Goldilocks kind of scenario…

The perfect pole grip is usually reliant on a combination of factors: Good grip strength, good shoulder engagement, clean skin (pretty please don’t moisturise on pole days!!) and the optimum temperature.

Anyone that has been poling for a couple of years will tell you that the perfect pole grip can only be achieved for about 4 weeks over the course of a whole year – usually for about 2 weeks sometime in April and another 2 weeks in October. Why? Well, when the weather is hot and muggy, you’ll be dripping with sweat and sliding all over the place. When it’s freezing cold you won’t sweat enough, so you’ll be slippy in a different way and will realise just how essential a bit of sweat is for making your skin ‘tacky’ (cue some very vigorous warm ups from your instructor!)  And when it’s somewhere in the middle, things will be juuuust right.

I’ve been telling my students these past few weeks about a documentary focusing on ex-gymnasts being trained up to perform Chinese pole for Cirque du Soleil. The changes to their bodies including increased muscle mass (particularly in the lat area – long time polers you’ll relate to this!) and increased grip strength from their intensive training are hinted at here. (I’ve linked to the relevant point in the documentary, but you might find the whole thing interesting if you’re fascinated by circus and gymnastics things like I am!)  

How Can I Improve My Pole Grip?

This is where pole grip aids come in. There are a multitude of different grips available now, from generic liquid chalk (also used for other sports like climbing and what we sell at the studio – buy now) to more expensive pole-specific products like ‘Dry Hands’ and ‘Grip and Glow’. The majority of these products are for helping to decrease the moisture in the hands, but there are products available for adding moisture or tackiness too (often applied to the inside of the legs for things like knee hangs). Pole Junkie stock a great variety of grips!

It’s also worth noting that there is a fairly common condition called Hyperhydrosis (excessive perspiration) and that if you suffer from this you might find it helpful to apply driclor or a similar product to the hands the night before your lesson. If it’s particularly severe, please discuss this with your doctor.

If you want to focus on improving the strength of the muscles in your hands and fingers, you can actually buy devices to use in between pole sessions to help build this up, like the ones shown here.

However, by far the best thing you can do to improve your grip is to be patient! As boring and frustrating as it might feel, developing a better grip will take time and is the result of regular conditioning and practice. Remember, every time you practice a pole movement, your grip strength is being developed along with everything else.

I’d like to sign off by reassuring you that we all have bad days when it comes to grip and that along with drippy and slippy also comes too sticky…

<img src="https://constellationsfitness.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Too-sticky.jpg" alt="too sticky" width="169" height="300">
Much, much too sticky

I’m pretty sure the picture says it all!

What gets you to your optimum grip level? Tell me in the comments below : )

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