Aerial arthritis, yes that exists and you may not even realize you have it. Injuries come in all shapes and forms. When you are training flexibility and aerial arts it is very easy to damage connective tissues in your joints. The best way to avoid this is to have a qualified and well-respected instructor that has a background in anatomy and physiology.
Not All Instructors Are Created Equal
Most circus and flexibility instructors do no have this education and lack a correct understanding of the body. In fact most instructors have no qualifications what so ever. Yes really!
A good way to tell if you have a knowledgeable instructor is to ask them if they have any injuries and formal education. If they can’t seem to look after their own bodies than how are they going to look after yours.
If you are told that they have done an apprenticeship or have just learned from other instructors run for the hills. Why? Unfortunately, this lack of education can cause injury, joint damage, muscle strains and permanent damage such as arthritis and a restricted range of motion in the areas that have been affected.
Qualifications that gives a good knowledge on anatomy and physiology are:
- Minimum 200 hour yoga teacher training. This is at least a six month training process on body mechanics.
- Personal training certifications. These are focused on body mechanics and the outcomes on working the body with variations in load, repetition and isolation.
- Circus qualifications. These can come from Necca or other leading institutions. I would not train with an instructor if this is their only level of qualification. This is because there are no body mechanics involved it is simply a posed based education much like aerobics.
- Any sport science degree such as physical therapy, strength and conditioning or physiotherapy.
A Deeper Look Into Cartilage
Cartilage is a firm but flexible connective tissue in your joints. It protects the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock created when you move and put stress on them.
There are two methods of stretching that impact cartilage:
- Static Stretching
- Dynamic Stretching
Static compression affects the joints by reducing the nutrition that moves into the cartilage. This is increases fixed charge ions and increased osmotic pressure. These factors inhibit proteoglycan synthesis and processing (Gray et al 1988). In English, this means that it causes static compression which affects the nutrition of the cartilage.
A reduction in the normal amount of this cartilage tissue causes some forms of arthritis.
Examples of this are any static flexibility movements such as sitting in your splits for an extended period of time. I would not hold an intense pose for more than two minutes. In a yin yoga practice where you are only 40% into the pose you can hold it for up to 5 minutes.
You need to ensure that when you are training contortion that you are always elongating and never crunching the bones, or joints. This can lead to damage and inflammation of the cartilage. Consequently leading to arthritis. Long holds can and will cause damage.
In fact many ballet companies are stopping long static holds for more dynamic stretching methods. This has decreased the amount of muscle tears and related injuries.
It is quite common to have arthritis in the spine and joints from the intense pressure that ballet impedes on the body. Just imagine what the loading force of aerial does!
Dynamic compression increases hydrostatic pressure and fluid flow. This stimulates biosynthesis. Therefore this type of cyclical loading and unloading is good for cartilage health. (Sah et al. 1991).
Impact & Excessive Loading
Dropping into splits or poses that require a good level of flexibility can open you up to injury. This is because you are impacting the joints and creating a lot of force that excessively loads them.
I couldn’t tell you how many students have torn groins or hamstrings dropping into an aerial split too hard and fast. This causes injury to the muscles and or joints. Causing excessive fluid flow and strain.
This can result in swelling and permanent cartilage damage. Resulting in decreased performance and permanent damage.
How To Alleviate Aerial Arthritis
Fortunately, there are natural extracts that can help you move more freely when it comes to inflammation of the joints. Unfortunately, if you strain or tear a muscle there is only one remedy and that is REST.
Olive leaf extract is a supplement that’s capable of providing help for a number of health issues one of which is helping aerial artists with arthritis.
What Is Arthritis?
Strictly speaking, arthritis is a collective term used to describe several different ailments that affect the ability to move without pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different health issues that are classed as arthritis or arthritic discomfort.
As of 2019, arthritis remains one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. One of the causes is cartilage damage, which is often found amongst aerial injuries and incorrect flexibility training and technique. AKA Aerial arthritis.
Some people develop mild to moderate issues as symptoms associated with an underlying health condition. This often means treating the cause as well as seeking relief from the symptoms themselves.
Physical therapy, medication, nutrition, and even some surgical procedures may be employed. Depending on the severity of the cartilage damage.
What Are Some of the Most Common Symptoms of Aerialist Arthritis?
The more common signs of arthritis include joint stiffness, swelling in and around the joints, recurring or constant pain and a limited range of motion.
How many times have you occurred these symptoms after an aerial injury? I am the first to put my hand up here. I experienced all of these symptoms when I strained my hamstring. It’s been six months and I still have a restricted range of motion.
Symptoms may be minor and cause minimal interference with daily life and activities, although they may heavily impede aerial and flexibility performance due to joint pain and restricted range of motion that stays where the previous injury was.
This is a telltale sign that you have arthritis from the injury. Until I looked into permanent effects of aerial injuries I never would have even considered arthritis.
I always thought that was for older people. Yet it is quite prevalent today with many of my students who have previously experienced injuries.
In more severe cases, arthritis can lead to permanent changes in the bone structure.
How Does Olive Leaf Extract Help Aerial Injuries & Arthritis?
The reason that olive leaf extract can provide a measure of relief is due to the presence of oleuropein in the leaves and stems of the olive tree itself.
Oleuropein is believed to provide anti-inflammatory benefits that help to ease joint swelling and reduce the amount of stiffness present. Getting rid of swelling and stiffness, in turn, reduces the amount of pain that the individual experiences.
While much of the focus is on easing symptoms, these same studies also indicate that using olive leaf extract can provide additional nutrition to the affected joints and tissues. Which previously discussed is damaged through excessive static stretching.
That nutrition, in turn, helps to prevent the inflammation and stiffness from returning as quickly. Helping your joints be more pliable.
Is It Safe To Use Olive Leaf Extract With Other Therapies?
There are no known negative interactions between olive leaf extract and most medications used to help fight arthritis symptoms. Even so, it’s a good idea to discuss the use of any supplements with your doctor.
Using the extract can make it easier to recover a wider range of motion. Easing the pain also makes it easier to move comfortably.
Will Any Olive Leaf Extract Supplement Work Equally Well?
While there is plenty of evidence to indicate that olive leaf extract is helpful for treating arthritic conditions, it’s important to note that not all supplements are the same.
Some of them are made using methods that reduce some of the oleuropein content. While you may still see some benefits, it pays to look for a product that preserves the full effect of this compound.
The solution is to utilize an option known as d-Lenolate. This patented approach makes use of an extraction process designed to preserve the chemical composition of the olive leaves. The result is that you receive more oleuropein per dose and get to enjoy an increase in benefits.
Remember prevention is always the best medicine.
Make sure you stay safe in your training regime, stretch after exercising and use dynamic flexibility as your warm-up. So many aerialists get injured from static stretching before going up in the air.
Make sure you keep that cartilage happy, you only get one shot at keeping it all in place.
There are several remedies that aerialists should have handy in their cupboards to help with tears and excessive bruising. In order to alleviate these conditions and many more, you can read more about aerial essential treatments here.
I hope you enjoyed my article on aerial injuries & arthritis. Have you personally experienced joint pain due to previous aerial injuries.
Stay long and limber,
Co writer: Geoff Melcher is the Vice President at East Park Research in Las Vegas, NV. East Park Research has studied the healing properties of the olive leaf, resulting in the development of a unique olive leaf extract formulation – d-Lenolate.
Repin Me: Aerial Injuries & Arthritis