In a paper published in June 2013 on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics of the Physical Sciences”), a committee of 11 scientists presented their views on the safety of pole dancing. The group’s main aim was to help policymakers and educators figure out best practices for teaching about the physical sciences and technology. But some of the recommendations included in the paper are notable for their bluntness — a message to educators that even students who are most enthusiastic about the practice are going to have to pay a price for experimenting with spinning, and scientists are probably right.
The science behind the findings is complex and includes questions about the physiological impact of spinning, the use of “safety belts” and other devices to prevent permanent injury and whether these could somehow be circumvented while dancing. What really matters — as the authors emphasize — is not the numbers showing “foul” behavior on young students but the effects they show on adults:
Because young people are more likely to engage in behavior that is not directly harmful to themselves, and young people are more likely to engage in behavior that is not directly harmful to others, an intervention that is directly beneficial for youth can also be directly detrimental to their own mental or physical health.1
The authors then recommend that teachers refrain from instructing on “pole dancing,” and instead promote “traditional activities, such as reading, writing, or physical activity.” The paper is notable for its bluntness. The evidence to the contrary doesn’t simply go away or can be ignored by any good educator. Pole dancing, even though it’s safe for children, can also be dangerous for adults.
A similar analysis of the research, published in October 2010 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, had similar findings — although this time the group included a disclaimer saying that other study authors (who, by the way, were not involved in the new research) had been “very cautious” in their conclusions. The study found an increased risk of stroke in adults who exercised while spinning in a centrifuge. The risk of these activities was similar for adults who danced while spinning in a swing arm and adults who danced barefoot or didn’t dance at all.
And while some dance instructors seem to be more vigilant than others in checking children’s movements — spinning in a machine, for example — the study found no difference in stroke rates when the equipment was tested before and after students engaged in spinning; spinning in the centrifuge was fine. The report goes on
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