Wearing backwarmers has lately become very popular in the pole and aerial community. Many sport apparel companies has add them to their shops, and they are now available in diverse range of materials. They are cosy, comfortable and cute, but are they really that important when it comes to your flexibility progress? And what is actually the whole science behind this item?
As everyone knows, during any physical activity your body temperature rises. As the heart rate and blood circulation increase and breathing becomes deeper ,your body starts producing sweat. It's an absolutely natural reaction which prevents your body from getting overheated and your whole system to collapse. Sweat on skin can cool the body down in very short amount of time. The problem with the whole process is that when it happens too fast, it is basically a temperature shock to which not only the skin, but mostly the muscles can react with soreness, stiffness and a lot of discomfort, especially the next day. All high level athletes want to prevent that from happening and they do that simply by putting on clothes right after being done with their physical activity.
Stretching doesn't make you sweat like for example running, but still, it is not a passive or relaxing activity. If done correctly, active flexibility training should make your heart rate come up. After all, it is very important to be properly warm before you even start stretching. Keeping up your body temperature stable during your flexibility practice will give you the best results and that is when a good quality backwarmer can come in help. It will be able to absorb sweat, while still keeping you feeling warm and cosy. A good backwarmer should also be long enough to cover your entire middle and lower back, and stay on place without rolling down too much.
Progress and injury prevention
It's really not rocket science that warmth is helpful during flexibility training. As stretching and bending in sauna sounds like a great idea, dropping into a split right after ice cold shower feels like pure madness. When muscles and joints are not warmed up, the risk of getting injured is much higher. The joints are crucial to warm up as well, as they help the muscles to release the tension. Warming up your muscles with at least 10 minutes of cardio activity should be mandatory before you even get into stretching. You can try jogging, jumping over the rope, or riding a gym bicycle, but when it comes to warming up your joints, the best what you can do would be lot's of circular motion such as hip circles, leg swings and all the yoga poses that include twisting your spine.
While working on backbends, the focus is not only on muscles, but also on deep connective tissue and joints. Everything in the whole body is connected together. Very often the biggest issues that are keeping you away from your dream backbend and splits progress, might be blockages in your pelvis, lover back, hips and abdominal. Not saying that warmth will cure all that, but together with focused breathing and some myofascial release techniques, it will help your body to relax and go further in stretches.
After all, backwarmers were used long time before the whole pole/aerial community even "discovered" them. They were mostly used by rhythmic gymnastics schools who are known for their intense backbending trainings, by ballet dancers who often suffer from poor circulation and low body temperature due to small body fat percentage and professionally trained dancers in general.
The conclusion is that wearing a backwarmer might be very useful, helpful, cute and fashionable all together but at the end, it is something you just need to try for yourself.. literally on your own skin.
Article written by Michaela Aerial ,with help of Nicky Van Bommel. Nicky Van Bommel is a personal trainer/coach specialized in flexibility and mobility, certified pilates instructor, certified pfysio in 4xT method and techniques. She is a passionate aerialist as well. Loves helping circus artists to increase the ability of their body in a safe & quick way and trying to bring physio and PT knowledge/skills together as they belong.