Zumba is a great way to dance yourself into great shape, but according to a number of doctors, the popular fitness class can also cause a lot of damage, if done incorrectly. “I’m seeing a number of injuries,” says Dr. Orly Avitzur, a neurologist and Consumer Reports medical adviser who recently wrote that she’s seen an uptick in Zumba-related injuries. “There’s so much side-to-side movement that you really need to synchronize your hips, your knees, your feet and your ankles so they’re going in the same direction,” says the neurologist. “If you move in one direction and the joint doesn’t go with you in that direction, it’s a setup for injury.”
The Most Common Zumba Injuries Include:
- Ankle sprains & fractures
- Lower back strain
- Shin splints
- Torn meniscus (knee joint injury)
- Heel spurs
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hip bursitis
Beginners to the high-intensity dance classes are particularly at risk, and common complaints include lower back strain. An email survey issued by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for this post got similar responses from doctors. Some injuries can even require surgery.
“I’d say we get at least one to two Zumba-related injuries a week,” says Dr. Stephanie Siegrist, an orthopedic surgeon from Rochester, New York. “Zumba in and of itself is not a bad thing. Everybody who’s tried it loves it and wants to go back and we certainly encourage that in our patients. But you have to be safe so you can keep going back.”
The Best Ways To Prevent Zumba Injuries
Wear The Right Shoes. Experts say that wearing the right shoes (such as dance shoes or cross trainers).
Dance On The Right Floors. Avoid carpeting or hard tile whenever possible. Opt instead for classes taught on hardwood floors.
Only Participate In The Right Class Sizes. If classes are too congested, people will inevitably run into each other, even accidentally hit or kick each other. If possible, only take classes that give you enough room to really move.
Take Classes With The Right Instructors. In addition, it is very important to only take classes with an experienced instructor who offers a choice of high intensity or low-impact moves.
Dave Cook, an ER physician from Charleston, South Carolina, says he’s seen four or five people for injuries stemming from Zumba or video exercise programs like Insanity or P90X in the last six months.
“Any time you have a new sports exercise craze you tend to see more injuries,” he says of the uptick in injuries. “People have a clear understanding of basic forms of exercise, but with some of these new forms, you don’t necessarily see that.”