A Middle-Aged Woman's Guide To Zumba Safety
Zumba is a high-energy dance workout that's inspired more than 12 million people in the U.S. to get moving and get healthy, but it has also resulted in a lot of aches and injuries. Some hospitals report an increasing number of patients with Zumba-related injuries. If you're a middle-aged woman who is planning on taking Zumba for the first time, what can you do to avoid joining their ranks?
1.) Zumba with your own age group.
While it's great to be young at heart, your knees and your hips know exactly how old you really are. If you try to join a Zumba group that's geared mostly toward people 20 years younger than yourself, you may find yourself struggling to keep up. Look for a class that's geared toward beginners in your age group and doesn't pressure people to push past their limits.
2.) Start out a little slower.
Zumba is actually uniquely suited for people who need to work at their own level. A good instructor will show the class how to substitute low-impact moves and basic steps for some of the high-impact jumps and pivots, but even a good instructor can't save you if you try to overachieve.
A lot of people get injured because they overdo it when they first start—unlike a lot of other forms of exercise, Zumba is fun. Don't get so caught up in the enjoyment, however, that you forget to give your body time between sessions to recharge and repair. Start out one day a week for the first month or two. You can gradually work up to two or three Zumba sessions a week. Keep in mind that experts say that middle aged women only need about 150 minutes of exercise a week to maintain their weight.
3.) Protect your knees.
The most common site for a Zumba-related injury is probably the knee. Doctors say that women are uniquely at risk for knee injuries, possibly due to their lower center of gravity than men and their smaller, narrower kneecaps. Whatever the cause, the last thing you want to experience during a Zumba class is the popping sound and sudden pain of an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury. If you've started to develop the knee problems that often go along with being middle-aged, talk to your doctor about getting orthopaedic braces from a company like Human Technology that can help keep your knees safe during class. A brace can help keep your knee from turning when it shouldn't and keep you out of the operating room as a result.
As always, when you're about to take up a new sport or exercise, check with your family doctor first in order to make sure that you don't have any health concerns that can make the activity dangerous.