Knee Pain During Zumba

November 21st, 2009


I heard one of my Zumba class regulars who disappeared recently has quit doing Zumba because of knee pain. This is not the first Zumba knee pain complaint I’ve heard. Why do people’s knees hurt from Zumba?

As I mentioned in my past post Sticky Shoes During Zumba, most athletic shoes are designed for forward movement only. Running shoes and walking shoes have heavy traction and robust soles to resist sliding and turning and this is exactly what runners and walkers need. This is not what we want in Zumba class.

Zumba incorporates the twisting, turning, and sliding movements of Latin dance. While the body is moving, the heavy traction of popular athletic shoes causes the Zumba dancer to stick to the studio floor. The foot stays put and the leg, knee, and hip twist, turn, and slide.

Think of a basic Cuban salsa move – you step to the side, shift your weight to that foot, shift your weight to the other foot, and bring your feet together and repeat and repeat and repeat. The thick, wide soles of most athletic shoes are designed to prevent the lateral movement of salsa, one of the basic dances in a Zumba class.

It’s no wonder some exercisers experience knee pain from Zumba!

The good news is knee pain does not have to end your Zumba workout. There are many styles of athletic dance shoes available that will allow you to turn and slide freely. Here are some articles to help you find the best shoes to wear during Zumba. Enjoy!

Zumba FAQ – What are the best shoes to wear in a Zumba Class?

Do I need Zumba shoes?

Coming Soon: Z1 Zumba Shoes

Where to Buy Dance Shoes

Good Dance Shoes for Zumba

Best Zumba Shoes

Sticky Shoes During Zumba

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11 Responses to “Knee Pain During Zumba”

  1. Patricia on May 8, 2010 4:44 pm

    I have been reading your site and it’s interesting.
    I am a ZUMBA freak, I can’t get enough.
    But about the knee pain, One of the Zumba instructors I have does allot of hopping and squats, all in the same routines, My knee hurts after wards, My other instructor does allot of twisting and shimming, I would Love a combo of the both of them. But I bought a knee brace and it seems to help. Are any of your routines online like (utube)?
    Thank you for a great website!

  2. Rachel on October 17, 2010 12:02 pm

    I found your web site when googling zumba and knee pain. You were right that I needed good dnace sneakers! Thanks! Also just to let you know that if you get Peppermint, Balsamic Fir, and Wintergreen essencial oils (from a good company like YOung Living or NOW)it is really helpful in healing the ligaments and bringing down swelling and releiving pain. I was using those three frequently (rubbing it on my knees) in between the days of zumba work out. It really helped and so if anyone is needing relief first get good shoes but then use these oils to help heal the damage already done and to relieve pain.

  3. Jojo on February 23, 2011 11:21 am

    I’ve been doing Zumba for like 3 weeks, plus I do the Zumba Fitness for wii and my right knee has been hurting so much since. I love the zumba, but I don’t know that I want to mess up my forever because of it. I’m torn :(

  4. Valerie on March 20, 2011 11:51 am

    Another option besides buying new sneakers is getting these things called slip-on dancers. I bought a pair after seeing a girl in my class with them, it and makes turning so much easier. We dance on carpet and with these things slipped over my sneakers, I can turn SO much easier. They make them for wood floor too:

  5. rencsi on March 20, 2011 1:15 pm

    Jojo, I hope your right knee is feeling better! One of my participants had to cut back to one day a week because her ankles were sore. Her physical therapist told her to take 8 weeks off from activity and then start again slowly.

    Valerie, I also wrote a post about Slip-on Dancers, but I’ve never tried them. Thanks for letting us know they work!

  6. kden on April 22, 2011 9:58 am

    I’ve been doing Zumba at my local Curves 3xweek for the past few months. I’ve also lost 40 lbs, not entirely due to Zumba but it’s helped. So the irony is to have lost weight and exercising a lot and now to have my knees hurt. We work out on carpet so any type of shoe is going to have the same resistance. Other than laying off a day a week, I don’t think there is much of a remedy.

  7. Marta miller on April 26, 2011 1:56 pm

    I am currently providing (sliders) to quite a few curves due to clients knee pain. I sell them cheaper than online if interested.
    Sliders go on your shoes to help you pivot and make moves like turning a lot easier on your knees. Highly recomendem. If purchase 1 : $11 shipping included. In lots would be $8.

    Live love zumba!

  8. littleleers on June 29, 2011 5:31 pm

    Zumba is pretty intense and I have attended two different Zumba classes with different instructors and neither one did a proper warm up.

    Lack of warm up is a recipe for injury! It is better to attend a Zumba class with an instructor who holds a Group Fitness Certification either from AFAA or ACE. This assures you that the teacher knows how to warm up and to give alternatives to some of the more ballistic moves.

    Shoes are very important. Getting a shoe with less tread like a cross trainer is good, but better is a real practice dance shoe. Capezio is an old and respected company that makes all sorts of practice and dress dance shoes. I have a pair that are “split sole” and have a “spin spot” on them. Sticking shoes WILL hurt you.

  9. Why is it so hard to find Zumba shoes?!? at Rencsi on October 25, 2011 10:05 pm

    [...] search for good Zumba shoes started over two years ago after I experienced knee pain after Zumba. During Zumba class, I was having so much fun that I didn’t even notice that my usual gym [...]

  10. Verena on November 23, 2011 3:26 pm

    I started Zumba and have toned up very quickly from only one class per week and after 3 weeks I added one more (so today will be my 4th week).

    I bought Zumba shoes but my knee is hurting me. I’m afraid the slip ons will slide too much on the lino that is in the class.

    I don’t want to take it down or then I lose that edge for getting toned. I’m 52 now and it’s tough to get back in the swing, but even when I was in my 30’s I’d injure myself so it’s not my age.

    My ‘dance’ shoes have heels so they are probably not great even though they are specifically designed for dance, Zumba is not really dance, it’s more exersize so you cannot use ballroom dance shoes.

    I agree that this teacher does not warm up and does some twist moves that are hard on knees. I am going tonight and will try to modify a bit and maybe get a brace for next time.

    I love it though! Lots of fun!

  11. Donna on February 7, 2012 10:25 pm

    I am a Zumba Addict five to six times a week, Iam going to be sixty and my knees always hurt. I have dance sneakers so its not my shoes? I dance on wood floors mostly and on concrete. Can’t figure out what it is but would love to know???

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