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From Zumba® to barre to breakdancing, the fitness industry has seen a growing trend in dance fitness. Whatever dance fitness trend you choose, you can lose or maintain weight, become more active and have tons of fun with this type of exercise.

But dance fitness can also cause injury if you aren’t careful. Problems like shin splints, knee pain, back strains and ankle sprains can take the spring out of your step. The good news: You can take steps to prevent injuries with these tips, says Apryl Riggins, physical therapist at AAMG Physical Therapy.

GO EASY. “Always start slow. Try one class, or even half of a class, and see how your body responds,” Apryl says. “Injuries don’t typically occur from a single movement or class. Injuries more often occur as a result of repetitive movements over several days or weeks, and especially when you’re tired.” If you experience pain or fatigue, take a day or two off, make sure you’re pain-free, then resume your dance class to make sure you’re comfortable.

WARM UP WISELY. Warm-ups should include a cardio component. Start with gentle arm and leg movements for five to 10 minutes, gradually picking up your pace. Once your muscles are warm, try some dynamic stretches, such as high knees, butt kicks or leg swings.

COOL DOWN CORRECTLY. Slow your dance movements for five to 10 minutes. Then stretch your body, including your arms and legs, holding each stretch for 30 seconds to one minute.

MIX THINGS UP. Try cross-training, or doing more than one form of exercise. Doing other types of exercise in addition to dance works different muscle groups. Cross-training can help you avoid overuse injuries. “Pilates and yoga are excellent additions to dance training,” says Apryl. “They focus on core strengthening and stabilization of your abdominal, pelvic and back muscles, which helps prevent injury.”

TREAT YOURSELF RIGHT. “General muscle soreness is normal after a workout, but sharp pain is not,” Apryl says. “If you experience intense pain, talk to your doctor.”

Conditioning and physical therapy can help relieve pain and prevent injuries from returning. For more information, call 443-481-1140 or visit
Apryl RigginsApryl Riggins is a physical therapist at AAMG Physical Therapy. To reach her, call 443-481-1140.