When I first tried Zumba earlier this year, I was instantly hooked by the amazing music and fun moves, even though my hips needed a little help to sway to the beat! The hot fitness trend keeps getting hotter. But don’t let all the fun get in the way of safety, or you just might shake your groove thing straight to the doctor’s office.
A recent Consumer Reports (CR) article explains, if you’re new to Zumba and out of shape, the workout “can be like trying to run a marathon without ever having jogged around a track.” CR says doctors are seeing knee injuries requiring surgery, tears in the hip labrum, hip bursitis, ankle sprains, shin splints, heel spurs, and lumbar strain injuries from Zumba moves.
Who is most at risk? And how can you avoid Zumba injuries? FatFighterTV got the answers from CR’s medical adviser, Orly Avitzur, M.D.
FatFighterTV: Why do you think you are seeing an increase in injuries from Zumba?
Dr. Orly Avitzur: Zumba has gained popularity over the years and with more people doing it, there are more people getting injured.
FatFighterTV: Who is most at risk of getting injured?
Dr. Orly Avitzur: People who have not worked out before and start the strenuous exercise without gradual introduction, and older people who may have arthritic knees and hips or low back issues.
FatFighterTV: Do people underestimate Zumba as a form of exercise, hence increasing the risk of injury?
Dr. Orly Avitzur: It’s tremendous fun; more like a party than exercise, which is why it’s so wildly popular. So, yes, people tend to forget that they are putting too much torque on the knee or jumping and landing too hard. It’s wise to realize that it’s difficult exercise and that you can run into the same problems as weekend warriors who run or bike sporadically.
So what’s a Zumba exerciser to do? Here are 5 safety tips from Dr. Avitzur:
1. Prepare for class. Zumba instructors select dance steps from a variety of styles, including salsa, samba, merengue, hip-hop, tango, and belly dancing. Take a prep class that teaches the basic moves or a beginner’s Latin-dance session before you show up at your first class. And if you’re a baby boomer, try to find a Zumba class geared toward your age group.
2. Find an experienced instructor. Any enthusiast can receive basic certification after completing just a one-day course. Before signing up, research your teacher’s experience and the extent of his or her fitness or dance certification. You’ll find licensed Zumba teachers at Zumba.com, where you can also search for classes by ZIP code and day of the week.
3. Wear the right shoes. Shoes for Zumba should have few or no grips on the soles so you can pivot easily without sticking to the floor. Dance shoes with pivot points allow multidirectional movement. Don’t wear running shoes, which are made for forward – not side – movement.
4. Avoid the wrong floors. Makeshift Zumba studios have sprouted in converted church basements, school auditoriums, office buildings, and strip-mall storefronts. But not all floor types work well. Be wary of unforgiving surfaces such as concrete, concrete covered with a thin layer of wood, or floors with hard tiles, and avoid carpeted surfaces. Hardwood floors, which provide a certain amount of give, offer a good venue for Zumba. But they still can get damp from sweat, humidity, or wet soles. Be sure to test your glide before you start, and mop up your area if needed.
5. Modify those moves. Use common sense and avoid dangerous moves, even if the teacher and your neighbors are doing it. A good instructor will demonstrate lower-intensity alternatives and tailor the class to participants’ level of performance.
And please be careful out there! 🙂
[Photo credit: Zumba.com]