As a beginner, friction burns and bruises are unlikely to be a huge problem until you start doing more advanced inverts when you’re venturing into the world of the aerial sling. So if you are suffering from friction burns you must have reached the point of inverting – well done you!
You will know that a friction burn caused by the pressure between the silk and your skin, can derail your progress and be quite painful.
Whilst they go with the territory of aerial arts and advanced aerial yoga there are several things you can do to prevent friction burns during aerial yoga.
The good thing to know is that your skin eventually toughens up. You will also get stronger and more confident so you won’t slip down the silks in quite the same way. But sadly, certain poses will always get you and there is not much you can do about that except grit your teeth.
If you’re looking for a few tips on how to prevent friction burns during your aerial yoga work out we have seven great words of advice on this matter.
Once you’ve suffered the fate of a friction burn there are a number of things you can do to treat them. We talk about this at the bottom of the page, so if this interests you – scroll on down.
What Causes Friction Burns?
Friction is a force between two surfaces that are sliding, or trying to slide, across each other. So when your hands slide over the silky hammock fabric friction is created. This friction can lead to burns, bruises and other annoyances.
Friction burns and bruises are a hazard of any aerial sport and aerial yoga is no exception. This is simply because there can be a lot of friction caused between the equipment and your skin.
You tend to get them when you are performing inverts or flip and the fabric slides between your hands as you slide down the silks. In my experience, this happens when you are learning a new move or are not quite strong enough to hold the silks whilst performing the move.
Most burns will occur on your lower back, thighs, shoulders and arms since these are the areas that mostly come into contact with the aerial yoga swing.
You can also get some bruises on the hips when the silk is digging into those muscles too tightly. Remember it’s just like getting a wonderful sports massage.
So let’s take a look at how the pesky friction burns during aerial yoga can be avoided and prevented.
How to Prevent Friction Burns During Aerial Yoga
Step 1: Cover Up Your Skin
You will have been told to wear tight-fitting clothes like leggings and long-sleeved tops. This is to keep your skin covered up. If the skin isn’t in contact with the fabric it can’t get a burn – can it?
So by covering as much of your skin a possible you prevent yourself from getting friction burns during an aerial yoga workout.
We reach recently that if you get warm during your workout and need to take layers off then keeping hydrated will help. We have never heard this before so cannot testify to how true it is. However, it’s recommended that you keep leggings and a t-shirt on at the very minimum.
Step 2: Wear The Right Clothes
Form-fitting clothes are strongly recommended for aerial yoga. This is so they don’t ride up during the workout. Nobody wants to be hanging upside down and trying to pull a t-shirt or leggings down to cover skin up. Plus nobody wants to expose their chest to the world whilst upside down.
Full-length leggings are a great option for the lower body as they cover the legs preventing any friction burns they may be at risk of. Men opt for meggings – leggings that have been modified to better suit the “male physique”.
These are pretty standard for women doing exercise. Pop one on for aerial yoga as well, it will keep everything in place during your workout.
Form Fitting Tops
Tight tops are your best option as they won’t ride up whilst you are hanging upside down. As we mentioned above there is nothing worth than fighting to pull your clothes back down when your feet are pointing upwards. If your top rides up your belly and maybe hips will be in direct contact with the fabric and at risk of burns.
These are brilliant when in the hammock. they stop you from slipping on the mat when you are in grounded postures or floating positions whilst standing. They also protect your feet. We’ve written a post recently on the best aerial yoga socks if you are interested.
Step 3: Wear Gloves
Gloves are a great idea if you are practising a lot, are a beginner or suffer from hyperhidrosis. Unless you suffer from the latter condition it’s not a good idea to start relying on gloves. You need to toughen your skin up and strengthen your grip strength.
If you really need to wear gloves then try pole dancing gloves that have tack on them.
We are yet to review the best aerial yoga gloves, but these pole gloves are worth a look at until we get our acts together and write about aerial yoga gloves.
Step 4: Neoprene Leg Sleves
If you don’t have any gloves to hand you can pull a neoprene leg sleeve over your hands. Using a neoprene sleeve can be a good alternative – make sure you have a spotter and mats if you try this.
Step 5: Increase Your Grip Strength
If your hands are slipping through the fabric because you are not strong enough to grip them yet, a good place to start with preventing friction burns caused by lack of strength is to improve your grip strength.
We’ll be bringing a great article soon with exercise you can do at home to improve grip strength but in the meantime, these devices are all a great place to start.
Step 6: Try Other Similar Exercises
Another option similar to increasing grip strength is to do exercises that are kind of similar. Hammock moves use plenty of tricep strength so why not try tricep dips, biceps are used a lot too you could do bicep curls and pull-ups. Movements that increase forearm strength are also a good idea.
Step 7: Prepare Your Body Properly
Don’t apply suncream, moisturiser or similar products prior to aerial yoga s the product will transfer to the silk. Your hands will be slippy on the fabric. The silks will slide through your hands increasing your chances of getting friction burns. Save the moisturiser for afterwards.
Step 8: Take it Easy
If you are new to aerial yoga then take it easy. Slowly work through the list of moves that you was not to conquer so that your skin has time to get used to it and your grip strength has time to increase. If you start trying to move advanced moves too early you are at increased risk of move severe burns. So if you are a beginner start slowly and your skin will toughen up along with group strength and you will get fewer burns and bruises.
Step 9: Try a Grip Aid
Whilst you shouldn’t start to rely on these products there are a number of products known as grip aids that you can buy that will help increase your grip on the silks. However, if you increase the grip on your hands artificially you may also be at risk of more severe burns. Take a look here for products that can help whilst we are out reviewing them.
How To Treat Friction Burns or Bruises caused by Aerial Hammock or Silks
1. Take a Look at It
It’s always a good idea to take a look at the friction burn so that you can determine the extent of any damage. Figure out its depth and size and whether it’s a mild burn or otherwise. The general advice is that if it is bigger than 3 inches you should seek medical attention. Also, you should seek help if there is any bleeding.
2. Clean it up
Friction burns need cleaning to remove any bacteria, debris or dirt. The best way to clean is to apply cool freshwater – this will help to prevent infection from developing.
3. Apply a Topical Gel
4. Cover It up
If you feel you need to you can cover the wound with gauze.
Depending on the location and/or the size of the friction burns you may be able to carry on training aerial yoga. However, if they are on your hands or are particularly large it’s probably bets to give them time to heel Have a week or so off and come back to it. Do some gentle exercise like walking it swimming in the meantime. Do some core work to keep those abs striog.
Frequently Asked Questions
We have gone into details about this above but in brief. Give the wind a wash with cool running water, pat dry and then apply an antibiotic ointment to kill any bacteria and reduce any inflammation. Wrap the wound in gauze. Wrap loosely so the wound can breathe.
Yes, wounds need air to heal so don’t wrap any gauze or clothes around them too tightly.
Sophie Green has been pole dancing and aerial arts at home and in studios around the world for over 13 years. She’s taken a number of instructor courses in pole and aerial. Plus attended a course on rigging. She takes part in lots of exercise.