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Is Zumba Safe for the Back?

author image Luann Voza
Luann Voza teaches both math and science in an elementary school setting and physical education in a college setting. A former fitness-club owner, Voza has taught group fitness classes in step, aerobics, yoga, Pilates and kickboxing. As a bodybuilder, she held the title of Ms. New Jersey Lightweight Division Winner. Voza has a master's degree in exercise physiology and a doctoral degree in education.
Is Zumba Safe for the Back?
Zumba workouts combine low impact aerobics with Latin-inspired dance moves. Photo Credit: omgimages/iStock/Getty Images

Zumba is a combination of low impact aerobics and dance. It is a Latin-inspired, continuous movement class consisting of salsa and meringue dance moves set to motivating music. When combined with proper nutrition, the workouts help improve aerobic conditioning and reduce excess body weight and body fat. While many health and fitness benefits can result from participation in any type of physical activity, there is also a risk of musculo-skeletal problems, including back pain.

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Structural Factors

Your spine consists of bones for support, connective tissue for movement and stability and discs that absorb the impact of movement. Structural problems may lead to improper alignment affecting posture. Any type of structural deviation such as an excessive curve of the lower spine may affect spinal movement. Zumba dance moves that require your spine to rotate or twist increase the pressure on the discs. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the lower back for those who suffer from posture problems.

Muscle Imbalance

Participation in Zumba classes with a core muscle imbalance can lead to back problems. The core muscles consist of your abdominal and lower back muscles. Muscle imbalances occur when there are weak muscles opposed by tight muscles. This imbalance often leads to muscle fatigue with prolonged activity. This condition can be increased with excess body weight, particularly in the abdominal area that further weakens the abdominal muscles causing the back to arch. This type of muscle imbalance is a contributing factor to postural problems leading to pain and discomfort in the lower back.

Inadequate Footwear

Zumba classes consist of repetitive movements, which can place a strain on your spine and lower body joints. Adequate footwear provides flexibility, support and some degree of cushioning. Footwear should not have too much traction because of the pivoting and twisting moves. Because of this, many participants may choose footwear without adequate cushioning. This may increase the impact of movements on your spine leading to lower back pain. A cross training shoe provides enough cushioning without excessive traction.

Floor Surfaces

Zumba classes that are held on hard floor surfaces such as concrete, concrete covered with a thin layer of wood, or tiled floors are not recommended. This type of flooring does not give, and adds to the impact of movement on your lower body joints and spine. Over time, the joint stress can lead to back problems. Wood floors are recommended for Zumba classes.

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