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Zumba can cause painful back symptoms in beginners or in those with a pre-existing back problem.
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For beginners, or those with pre-existing back problems, Zumba can cause soreness or injury. Experts say that while Zumba is a fun and effective exercise, not following some key advice can lead to painful sprains and strains. Wearing proper shoes, warming up before dancing and avoiding overly crowded classes can help keep your back safe during this high-energy workout.
Zumba is a dance-based exercise routine that has gained in popularity over the past few years. It combines isolation movements for toning with fast-paced aerobics to get the heart pumping, according to certified Zumba instructor Martica Heaner. Zumba is a fun and effective exercise, but injuries can occur when shimmies and fast hip movements begin. These moves can strain joints and ligaments surrounding the spine and hips, resulting in new injuries or the aggravation of old, painful symptoms.
According to Heaner, even beginners or Zumba practitioners with pre-existing back trouble can still do those fun shimmies and hip thrusts as long as they are careful. She advocates warming up before the routine, practicing the sharp or fast moves before the music starts to activate specific muscle groups, and above all listening to your body. If you start feeling sharp aches during or after the routine, it may be time to take it easy. Doing the moves slower, or doing less of them, might be all it takes to avoid painful back symptoms.
Dr. Orly Avitzur, a medical doctor and Zumba participant, reports seeing a recent upswing in Zumba-related injuries. There are several common injuries she sees, some of which include ankle sprains and hip bursitis. According to Avitzur, those who are beginners to Zumba are the most susceptible to overuse injuries or strains and sprains. She advises wearing appropriate dance shoes instead of running shoes for better pivoting. She also advises against taking a Zumba class that is too crowded, as there is a higher risk for injury.
If you follow all the safety tips, modify the dance moves, wear the correct shoes and avoid the crowds and still feel back pain during or after Zumba class, it may not be right for you. Some people have a known or latent spinal problem that simply prevents them from performing the high-impact moves that go along with strenuous dance exercises. Some good alternatives include water aerobics, walking, yoga, Pilates or bicycle exercises, as these are all low- to no-impact exercises.