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The Science Behind Pole Dancing

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When we think about pole dancing, some of us might picture dark nightclubs in the early hours of the morning, with scantily clad women sliding up and down poles in a sexy fashion

But historically, pole dancing has actually been around for centuries, and certainly didn’t start off with strippers dancing in their underwear. In fact, pole dancing comes from India and is a sport called  Mallakhamba, which means ‘pole gymnastics’, and was used to show their strength and power by completing impressive acrobatic moves on a wooden pole. 

How do the physics of pole dancing work?

If you’ve ever seen an experienced pole dancer in action, you will no doubt have been impressed by the agile and skill they possess as they spin around and climb up the pole.

For the spinning, angular momentum is used to project their bodies in a circular motion, and friction and gravity is behind their ability to climb up the pole with ease.

Due to rotational  inertia, the speed of which a pole dancer swings around the pole is increased making their body a smaller shape. So if they tuck into a ball, they can spin faster and faster, slowing down again by swinging their bodies out wide. 

Gravity in pole dancing

But how do pole dancers easily get up to the top of a pole without slipping? This is when friction plays a part in the gravitational pull downwards. Of course, the slipperier the pole, the more difficult it is to grip, as the friction decreases.

Good pole dancers are very skilled in creating the right amount of friction when they dance on the pole – not too much and neither too little. This allows them to hang upside down by the crook of an elbow, using their fine motor skills and powerful muscles to alternatively stick and slide up and down the pole when needed.

Hence one of the reasons for the limited wardrobe attire dancers use when on the pole - bare skin creates much better frictional control than clothing.

Have you ever pole danced before? What was your experience like? What  shoes did you wear? Let us know in the comments below!


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