Spring often brings hope and sometimes the motivation towards improved health through exercise. For those who enjoy exercising in a group, (and who enjoy dancing), aerobic dancing can be a great choice to help you get in shape. Aerobic classes have been around for over 30 years and are offered in many locations in and around Seattle.

Aerobic dancing is a workout set to music, usually for about an hour, following a specific routine to warm up, peak heart rate and cool down. The benefits of aerobics are multiple – strengthening heart and lungs, lowering cholesterol levels and decreasing stress. Unless they are designed as “low impact,” most aerobic programs are quite strenuous.

If you have never taken an aerobics class or have been away a long time, it's a good idea to have an exam to assess the risk of injury to your feet.

Take Care Of Your Feet!

Impact forces from aerobics can reach up to six times the force of gravity, which is transmitted to each of the 26 bones in the foot. 

Proper shoes are crucial to successful, injury-free aerobics. Shoes should provide sufficient cushioning and shock absorption to compensate for pressure on the foot many times greater than found in walking. They must also have good medial-lateral (side-to-side) stability.

If your ankles turn inward or outward too much (e.g., excess pronation or supination) you may want to call the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City about custom orthotics, custom because they will be designed for your feet and correct problems that could contribute to an injury.

Don’t be tempted to wear your running shoes for aerobic exercise. Running shoes lack the necessary lateral stability and lift the heel too high to be considered acceptable for aerobics.

Prevention of Injuries

Injuries from aerobics usually result from improper shoes, surfaces, or routines, and overuse of muscles through too vigorous a regimen. Take classes from a certified instructor and give yourself time to learn the program correctly. If you can, start at a low-impact level and work your way up as you become fit and more confident of the routine.

If you exercise at home with a video, be very careful. Read the label to determine whether the video is produced by certified aerobics instructors and whether you can handle the degree of impact. While it's safe to do low-to-moderate impact aerobics on the living room carpet, that's not a proper surface for high-impact routines.

Don't underestimate the importance of the cool-off period. It burns off lactic acid (which makes muscles feel tired) and adrenalin, while keeping blood from pooling in the extremities.

The Pain Factor

If you feel pain in your feet, stop. Don't attempt to exercise through pain, or you may aggravate an acute injury into a chronic or even permanent one. If you continue to be bothered by pain in your feet or ankles for more than 24 hours after exercising, contact our office for an appointment.

Common Aerobics Injuries

  • Plantar fasciitis (arch pain) -- Arch pain is often caused by frequent stress on the plantar aspect, or bottom of the foot, in an aerobics routine.
  • Heel spurs -- Heel spur syndrome, related to plantar fasciitis, occurs after calcium deposits build up on the underside of the heel bone.   
  • Sesamoiditis -- Incredible forces are exerted on the sesamoid bones during aerobics, and inflammation and fractures can occur. Proper shoe selection and custom orthotic devices can help avoid sesamoiditis.
  • Stress fractures -- Probably the most common injuries to aerobics instructors, stress fractures are caused by poor shoe selection, hard surfaces, and overuse. When swelling and pain surface, call for an appointment. X-ray evaluation and early treatment can prevent a disabling injury.

The Bottom Line

Remember, foot pain is not normal, so don't ignore it. Chances are, a successful aerobics regimen will bring out the body you've always dreamed of, and a better feeling about yourself both physically and mentally!

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