What to know before you Zumba

July 18, 2012 2:45:14 PM PDT
Zumba is the Latin dance-inspired fitness craze that's sweeping the world. Its founders claim more than 12 million people take classes every week, but Consumer Reports says doing Zumba can lead to serious injuries if you're not careful.

Those practicing Zumba say that it's a great way to get fit and have fun doing it. But instructor Kathy Muglio developed severe foot pain after doing Zumba on a cement floor.

"You could take a couple of steps, it became extremely painful and difficult," Muglio said.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joel Buchalter has seen a slew of patients with Zumba-related injuries to their knees, hips and lower back.

"A lot of people get caught up with the music and excitement of it and they lose track of what they're doing and they don't realize that they overdid it until long afterwards," Dr. Buchalter said.

"If you're older and out of shape, Zumba can be a setup for injury. And no matter what your age, you have to be sure you're doing these moves properly," Dr. Buchalter added.

Consumer Reports' medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur says there are steps you can take to avoid risks.

First, don't wear shoes that grip the floor.

"Running shoes are made for forward, not lateral movements, so they're not appropriate. You want to get shoes that pivot, like dance shoes," Dr. Avitzur said.

Also, find a high-quality instructor.

"You can receive basic certification to teach Zumba after taking only a one-day course. So you want to be sure that you find an experienced fitness instructor," Dr. Avitzur said.

And, as Kathy Muglio learned the hard way, you should work out on the right kind of floor. Avoid hard floors, like tile, and carpeted surfaces, which can catch your foot. A hardwood floor with some give is the best way to Zumba the day away!

Because Zumba involves a lot of dance moves, Consumer Reports says that you might want to take a prep class to learn basic steps. And modify any moves you feel are too hard for you.

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