Having a safe pole & aerial education is the top mission point of Aerial Dance. It even comes before “fun” because you can’t have fun if you’re hurting! Because of this, we are constantly “encouraging” students to do things on both side and to use proper engagement. To me, this is a no brainer because of my own experiences and the damage caused to my body by not doing this.
My first career was as a professional bassoonist. I started at 12; I have three college degrees in bassoon; and have played over 30,000 hours in my life. (probably a lot more, but that is good conservative number because I never counted, I just practiced 5-9 hour a day, seven days a week for 13+ years and still play.) The bassoon is a heavy instrument held obliquely across your body. The majority of the weight is on your left hand and your wrist is slightly angled downwards when you play. There is no way to do bassoon on “both sides”.
Over the course of my career I noticed my body learning because my skills grew as I practiced. But what I didn’t realize was that my body was also adapting on a structural level to accomodate my bassoon. What do I mean by this? My left wrist is actually physically different from my right. The bones and tendons moved. The picture below shows where my wrists are both “straight.” Notice how the left one (on the right in the photo) is clearly leaning towards the pinky while the right actually looks straight.
My fascia learned that straight for the left is actually at a downward angle because for so many hours it held my bassoon and my body moved to accommodate. The body is fascinating. My range of motion is similar between my two wrists. But because my left wrist starts “lower” the range of motion is very skewed in that direction.
Without my meaning to, by not doing things in an even way at all, I actually structurally changed my body. Now, are you going to spend 30,000+ hours doing a pole grip to cause a physical change? Likely not. But your body IS learning and adapting by what you are doing. It is because of the brilliance of your body that moves like the claw grip are fully ban at the studio because of the long term damage they can cause structurally.