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Dance aerobic gym classes and your feet

A brief history of dance aerobic gym classes

Although aerobic dance classes have been around since the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that these classes really caught on. Such classes have maintained a high level of popularity of gym-goers over the years, and the introduction of classes inspired by other forms of dance have kept the offerings varied and popular. In fact, more than 24 million Americans participate in some sort of aerobic exercise to lose weight and stay in shape while having fun.

What do dance and aerobic classes have to do with foot, ankle, and leg health? While your gym class may be a lot of fun and leave your heart pounding and your lungs burning by the end of the hour, it also has an impact on the rest of your body — most notably your legs and feet. The legs and feet carry a disproportionate amount of stress compared to the rest of the body when walking or moving about. They endure even more when put under intense exercise conditions, particularly when there is a lot of jumping, bouncing, or pivoting involved. Aerobic exercise, including dance-based gym classes, puts a high level of stress on the legs, ankles, and feet. In fact, some movements will subject your feet to more than six times the force of gravity!

Before taking a class

If you aren’t accustomed to gym classes, particularly those that involve a high level of aerobic activity such as Zumba or hip-hop gym classes, it is a good idea to visit your podiatrist before trying out your first class. Your podiatrist will not only examine your feet, ankles, and lower legs, but will also assess the way you walk (your gait), and talk to you about your choice of shoes, activity, and current fitness level. You podiatrist will use this information to make recommendations to help keep you healthy and active. If you are already taking classes at your gym, it is important to visit your podiatrist periodically to ensure that you stay healthy. If you begin to experience any type of pain, swelling, or injury, see your podiatrist for evaluation before returning to class.

Start with proper shoes

After visiting your podiatrist, the second most important thing you can do before heading to class is to ensure that you have proper shoes. If you tend to pronate or supinate (turn your ankles inward or outward) too much, your podiatrist will offer guidance on proper shoe fit for your feet, and may suggest custom orthotics designed specifically for your needs. It is essential to wear properly fitting shoes and to use any prescribed orthotics for every class. Although there is no guarantee that you will be injury free forever, proper shoes and orthotics will go a long way toward reducing your risk of injury. It may be tempting to wear your regular running shoes for your aerobics or dance class at the gym, but running shoes aren’t designed to withstand the force of some of the lateral and other movements found in these classes.

To learn more about proper shoes for your dance or aerobics gym class, call the podiatrists at Kansas City Foot Specialists today at (913) 338-4440 or schedule an appointment. We look forward to keeping you on your feet!