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Zumba risks: Tips to avoid injury during exercise

July 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Zumba is the Latin dance-inspired workout that its founders say attracts 12 million people to classes every week. But it can lead to serious injuries if you're not careful.

While Zumba classes are a great way to get fit and have fun doing it, Dr. Joel Buchalter, an orthopedic surgeon, 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 the excitement of it, and they lose track of what they're doing and they don't realize that they overdid it until long afterwards," said Buchalter.

Consumer Reports medical advisor, Dr. Orly Avitzur, said there are steps you can take to avoid risks.

"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," said Avitzur.

Avitzur said 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," said Avitzur.

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," said Avitzur.

You also should work out on the right kind of floor. 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," said Muglio.

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.

Zumba has helped far more people then it's hurt, but if you are new to the program, observe a class before you try or maybe take a beginning dance class to learn a few of the basics.

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