The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Dance Fever: Why Are Zumba Sports Injuries on the Rise?

Posted by on Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Zumba, a cardio-dance fitness program, is one of the most popular fitness classes today, with more than 12 million weekly participants. While it’s upbeat, fun, and effective, there have been an increasing number of Zumba injuries over the years that calls unwanted attention to this fitness fad. It’s important that new participants understand the risks associated with Zumba dance to protect themselves from serious injury.

zumba dance
Some 12 million people participate in Zumba classes each week.
Image Source: zumba.com

Why Has the Zumba Injury Incidence Skyrocketed?

Reports of zumba injuries are coming in from physicians across the country, according to Consumer Reports. Orthopedic surgeons from Rochester, New York say they get “at least one or two Zumba-related injuries a week.” There are several reasons for the growing number of injuries, say experts.

1. Zumba is popular! With more than 12 million people doing Zumba, you’re going to see some emergencies and run-of-the-mill injuries. That’s no surprise.

2. It’s the “nature of the beast.” Zumba uses a lot of side-to-side motions that demand hips, knees, feet, and ankles to move together in unison. It doesn’t always work out that way, though!

3. It’s easy to lose focus. Zumba dance is so fun that many participants get caught up and don’t realize they’re overexerting themselves — until the pain manifests itself later.

4. Couch potatoes gravitate to Zumba. “Zumba often attracts women who have never worked out before,” explains 45-year-old Zumba instructor Kathy Muglio. “Some are overweight, and many have never learned how to squat or lunge properly.” Many participants don’t lift their feet enough, which leads to knee and hip injuries, she tells Consumer Reports.

Most Common Zumba Injuries

Georgetown University Hospital’s emergency room has admitted many patients with overuse fractures and sprains, according to Coastal PointKnee injuries requiring surgery are also happening at alarming rates, says Joel S. Buchalter of New York University Hospital. Common Zumba injuries cited include:

– Knee Injuries: ACL Tears, Meniscal Tears

– Hip Injuries: Labrum Tears, Bursitis

– Back Injuries: Lumbar Strains

– Ankle Injuries: Sprains, Fractures

– Leg Injuries: Shin Splints, Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis

– Foot Injuries: Heel Spurs / Plantar Fasciitis

Tips To Avoid Zumba Injuries

To prevent injury, it’s best to research fitness professionals to make sure they are not just certified, but also experienced. Health professionals see a lot of instructors coming in too, so you want to find someone who understands the physical demand of the class and knows how to prevent injury. Speak to the instructor to be sure you are performing the moves properly.

To reduce impact on the body, consider location. Classes should be done on hardwood floors, rather than concrete or hard tile, to soften the impact on the body. Also, be sure you’re wearing Zumba shoes that are designed for the side-to-side movements. Traditional athletic shoes or runners have too much grip that will limit your motions and put you at greater risk for ankle, knee, and hip injuries.

Exercisers should take proper precautions like warming up, skipping moves that seem too difficult, staying hydrated, and taking breaks as needed. A good instructor will offer variations to make the classes more or less challenging, depending on your fitness level. Oh, and one more thing: start out easy… you don’t need to Zumba five days a week, even though it’s that fun! 

If you hurt yourself at a Zumba class in NYC, call The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine to have your injury assessed by medical professionals.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.