If you’ve been poling for a while, chances are you remember those first few classes where everything hurt!
Holy cow, how did the instructor do a pole sit without cringing?
Now, if you’re more advanced, chances are your basic climb doesn’t give you any trouble, and you’ve conditioned your skin to be able to withstand Superman, Cupid, Gargoyle, and many other moves that reach sensitive areas of the skin.
Maybe you’re new and you’re wondering if the pain and bruises and burn ever go away – and luckily, the answer is yes! It does get better over time.
“Does it kill the nerve endings?”
This question has been echoed around many pole studios, and there’s a moment of uncomfortable silence when the answer might be yes, no, or simply “I don’t know.”
The answer is a firm no.
You are not killing your nerve endings, and you’re not going to lose complete feeling in, well, sensitive areas. You will still be able to feel, it just won’t hurt when you get on the pole.
Your body simply gets used to the constant pulling, bruising, and manipulation of that area; it becomes “desensitized” to the pain.
Why Does Pole Dancing Hurt in the First Place?
Our bodies are capable of amazing things. So why does pole dancing hurt when you first start out?
First, let’s learn about how our bodies react to pole dancing.
When you do your first pole sit or pole climb, you’re placing sensitive parts of your skin onto a thin piece of metal and letting your weight sink into it.
These parts of skin – like your inner thigh or the front of your shin – are not used to this motion. Your central nervous system recognizes this and sends signals to your brain through something called Nociceptors.
These nociceptors are specifically designed to detect potential damage in the skin and warn the body. Think of these receptors as little microscopic messengers telling your spinal cord, “Alert, alert! Signal the alarm (pain)! Get this message to the brain!”
Image credit to change-pain.com
Keeping things simple here, when the brain receives this signal, you’ll feel pain. Your central nervous system sends out the troops, local inflammation.
Now, inflammation is key to our survival and healing. It will, however, cause bruising.
Those pole-kisses you’re proud of and showing off? Your body went through a lot to create that!
Now, your brain isn’t any old fool, though.
If you’ve complained about pain in the studio, chances are, other pole dancers have said “you just have to tough it out,” or “practice, practice, practice until the pain goes away.”
For skin contact, they’re on the right track.
By continuing to train in that area, pulling at skin and “toughing it out” your body realizes your not in danger and gets used to the sensation. It doesn’t have to get so worked up about skin tension, effectively “desensitizing” the area to that type of pain.
Now, when you try a new move that pulls at a different part of the skin, be ready to experience that pole burn all over again.
How Long Does it Take for Pole Burn to Stop?
Unfortunately, there is no steadfast, easy answer to this question. Pain tolerance can change from person-to-person, day-by-day.
Depending on the circumstances, your body can be more, or less, sensitive to pain. A variety of factors can influence this like hormones, past personal experience, and even how socially acceptable pain is in your environment.
Many pole dancers report that doing pole sits in class, three times a week, the pain typically subsides within 1-2 weeks.
Others report that they never experienced the pain in the first place because they found a “sweet spot” for their skin. Likewise, there are pole dancers out there that can barely touch the pole without being in pain at first.
The key words to take away from this? “At first.”
Fortunately, the pain does go away, as we mentioned at the top of this article, it just takes a little bit of time.
 Adrienne E. Dubin, Ardem Patapoutian (2010) Nociceptors: The Sensors of the Pain PathwayTendons J. Clin Invest. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964977
 Christian Nordqvist (2012) Pain Tolerance May Increase with Regular Exercise. Medical News Today https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245563.php
 Mariana de Brito Barbosa, Elaine Caldeira de Oliveira Guirro (2013) Evaluation of Sensitivity, Motor and Pain Thresholds Across the Menstrual Cycle Through Medium-Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. Clinics (Sao Paulo) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3714915/
 Laura D. Ellingson, Aaron J. Stegner (2016) Exercise Strengthens Central Nervous System Modulation of Pain in Fibromyalgia. Brain Sci. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4810178/
 Jessica Dysart (2017) 9 Things that Lower Your Pain Tolerance. Considerable.com https://considerable.com/low-pain-tolerance/