Zumba: Party Yourself Into Shape, Not Injury
If you haven’t heard about Zumba, the high-energy aerobic workout that’s more like a dance party than an exercise routine, then you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past year. An estimated 12 million people worldwide now do the cardio-dance classes that are a combination of merengue, salsa, and other Latin dances.
Zumba is so much fun, it seems like everybody is doing it. That’s where I, your friendly Podiatrist, come in. A lot of the people who participate in Zumba are enthusiastic new exercisers who live an otherwise sedentary life. Add their eagerness, inexperience, Latin dance beats, and bad shoes and you’ve created the perfect storm for a foot injury.
If I had a dollar for every Zumba-induced foot injury I’ve seen I could pay for a month’s worth of Zumba classes at my local Urban Active. The four most common Zumba-induced pathologies and injuries I see at Advanced Foot and Ankle Care are
- Plantar Fasciitis- Heel pain caused by an inflammatory process in the plantar fascia, a thick band of connective tissue on the bottom of your foot.
- Intermetatarsal Neuroma- Pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in the front of your foot or toes caused by thickening and enlargement of a nerve in the foot usually as a result of compression and/or irritation.
- Tendinitis- Pain caused by injury and inflammation of a tendon, which is where a muscle attaches to bone. The most common types of Zumba-induced tendinitis I see affect the achilles tendon and posterior tibial tendon.
- Stress Fractures- Pain caused by a cracked or incompletely broken bone. In my Zumba-ing patients the most common stress fractures I see affect the heel bone (calcaneus) or metatarsal bones. Stress fractures are often the result of overuse or repetitive stress and are a notorious culprit of pain in people who start an exercise program and do too much too soon.
A more detailed explanation of each of these injuries and how we treat them can be found on our website (www.footandanklecare.org).
All is not lost though. If you’ve avoided injury thus far or are recovering from a Zumba-related foot injury, there are several things you can do to stay injury-free to ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck and the most benefit for all that sweating.
Your shoes (not your brightly colored leotard) are the most important article of clothing you wear to Zumba class. The ideal shoes for Zumba are supportive, especially in the arch area. The front of the shoes (where your toes bend) should be flexible. Cross-trainers are great shoes for this type of activity because they allow side-to-side motion and don’t have deep treads like a lot of running shoes do. This allows them to maneuver through the dance moves easier. We have several shoe options in our office shoe stores in all three office locations (Huber Heights, Troy and Piqua) that are perfect for Zumba. And as an added bonus, we have a helpful and knowledgeable staff to help you choose the right shoe.
An orthotic, a custom-made insole, is also a great option to help prevent injury (especially in certain foot types) or to prevent re-injury if you are recovering Zumba-er. Orthotics work to support your foot, reduce weight bearing forces on certain areas, and correct the function of the foot to make motion easier and less painful. At Advanced Foot and Ankle Care we can provide you with a custom-made device that will change your life in and out of Zumba class.
One of the best things about Zumba is that it lets you customize your own work out. You can make the class high impact or low impact. Some gyms now offer Aqua Zumba and Zumba Gold- the low-impact version. Be sure to tell your Zumba instructor about previous injuries or special health concerns like pregnancy. Know your limitations and don’t start out too fast, even if it’s hard to control your hips with those infectious Latin beats blasting.
As always, it’s a good idea to consult your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen.