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Zumba Tips for Bad Knees

by
author image Natalie Stein
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.
Zumba Tips for Bad Knees
Even with bad knees, you may be able to attend Zumba classes. Photo Credit GeorgeRudy/iStock/Getty Images

Zumba is a group exercise program that began in 2001 and has more than 12 million participants worldwide. Its Latin-inspired dance moves and fast pace can make your workout fun and exciting, but bad knees can make Zumba painful. You may still be able to participate in Zumba if your doctor approves and if you are careful with the moves.

Background

Common causes of knee pain include arthritis, bursitis, a torn meniscus, patellofemoral pain syndrome and changing your gait to compensate for hip or leg pain, according to MayoClinic.com. If your knee pain is the result of an injury, you may be able to reduce inflammation and pain by icing your knee after your Zumba Fitness class. Some kinds of knee pain may prevent you from participating in Zumba because they require complete rest or surgery to heal. The safest approach is to get your doctor’s approval before participating in Zumba or any other exercise program.

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Modify the Workout

Zumba Fitness promises a party-like, motivating atmosphere, and you may need to consciously hold yourself back to reduce stress on your knees. High-impact moves and sudden changes in direction may place additional stress on your knees, according to MayoClinic.com. You can reduce the stress by staying on the ground instead of jumping and by avoiding too much twisting during the dance routines. Warming up before class with some slow walking and stretching after class may prevent further damage to your knees.

Choose the Right Class

Original Zumba and Zumba Circuit are higher-intensity choices. Zumba Gold may be better if you have bad knees, because it is specifically designed to be slower and easier for baby boomers and beginning exercisers. AquaZumba, a water workout, is a non-weight-bearing alternative that does not place much stress on your knees. All Zumba instructors undergo initial certification and attend ongoing training. When choosing a Zumba class, you may want to talk to the instructor to make sure she is knowledgeable and willing to work with you to reduce knee pain.

Lose Weight

Osteoarthritis is a major cause of knee pain, according to MayoClinic.com. Zumba Toning, and Zumba Gold Toning for older adults, emphasize strength training. Strengthening your muscles may reduce knee pain from osteoarthritis. Losing extra weight can also reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. Zumba helps burn calories, but you may need to limit the frequency of your Zumba sessions so you do not further damage your knees. Non-weight-bearing exercise, such as swimming or using a stationary bicycle, can help you meet recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get at least 75 to 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise each week.

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