Monday, March 11, 2019

Happy Feet Make Happy Zumba® Instructors

Fitness is your passion, Zumba® is your love, exercise is fun. As a professional you instruct a healthy lifestyle, make fitness fun, and promote a safe environment for your participants. But what happens when you as the instructor is injured?

Many of your Zumba® classes include repetitive motions including twisting, jumping, lunges, plyometrics and squats. These motions are well known to have the propensity to cause injuries if performed frequently, without recovery and rest, and without stretching. As an instructor, it is your responsibility to create safe environment for your participants and manage your own physical well being.

Common injuries include sprains of ankle, tendonitis of the achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis, and strain to the lower leg and foot. Achilles tendon and plantar fasciitis are extremely common injuries experienced by Zumba® instructors. 

These types injuries are usually associated with overuse and typically starts as a sore muscle after an activity (commonly in the calf muscle). The injury progresses with swelling into the back of the heel and worsens causing pain during activity and rest. A hallmark symptom of Achilles tendon is the pain in the heel upon getting out of bed. Some people are even unable to bear full weight in the foot when getting out of bed. The injury progresses to plantar fasciitis causing acute pain in the arch of the foot. If left untreated the tight and inflammed gastrocnemius (calf) can tear or even rupture. The joints in the arch of the foot can also become stressed causing stress fractures. One thing is for certain, painful feet are not fun!!

Here are some helpful self management activities for calf  injuries:
1. Stretch before and after each class. Hold all stretches for 30 sec/5 reps to elongate the muscle.
2. Make sure the stretch is comfortable and is gentle no rocking or bouncing.
3. Visit the sauna after class coupled with further gentle stretches.
4. Hydrate! Hydrate Hydrate! Drink plenty of water pre-activity and post activity
5. Ice the injury after you get home on the Achilles or sore area in leg for no less than 15 minutes.
6. If your leg remains sore after a week, modify your routine and limit jumping and high intensity activities. If you are sore, most likely you are not alone.
7. Consider changing your footwear. Most shoes last approx six months commonly causing cramping and soreness in legs when the shoes near the end of their life.
8. Consult with a massage therapist for focused deep tissue work to on your legs to relieve muscle tightness and soreness.
9. If symptoms do not resolve themselves with self care consider consulting with a physical therapist or medical professional. The focus of this assessment will most likely include a comprehensive evaluation of pathology, strength deficits, biomechanical disadvantage(flat feet), and footwear evaluation. The PT or doctor could potentially make further recommendations for a consultation with a Podiatrist (foot doctor) or an Orthopedic doctor.

A successful instructor is not measured by the number of classes taught per week, but rather by teaching a diverse fitness aerobic class in a safe manner. Your class will appreciate the variety, injury prevention tactics, and most importantly, these tips can help with your longevity as an instructor.
Dr. Danielle Johansen, PT, DPT, OCS has been practicing physical therapy for over 25 years and is a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist. She is an adjunct professor at Shenandoah University. She is committed to providing injury care, prevention, management, and self care education. 


  1. Thank you, Dr. Danielle, for your insightful tips!

    Much appreciated!