Be sweet to your feet

Zumba is not exactly kind to feet. There’s a lot of pounding, twisting, stomping, and direction changes that really take their toll after 60 minutes. Here are some ideas to take care of your feet (which ultimately affects hips and knees too) during class and after.

First, shoes. You’ve probably seen people in class wearing jazz dance sneakers. These lightweight shoes have a slick sole for easy turning and twisting, plus a very flexible arch so you can go up on your toes with ease. Dance sneakers can be found for as low as the $30-40 range online or at dance wear stores (there are a couple in Santa Rosa, plus Windsor and Petaluma). Some people swear by them. Others find them too slick or unsupportive. It depends on your foot and your preference.

I wear 2 types of Nike dance fitness shoes– a little harder to find and pricier, but they can be hunted down at Lady Footlocker, the Nike Outlet store in Petaluma, or online. Ryka also makes a studio shoe that’s supposed to be great for Zumba. It’s on my list for Santa!

Any court shoes (racquet sports, basketball) are preferable to running shoes because they have a narrower base with less tread. This makes it easier to do lateral moves without twisting an ankle. Also easier to do turns.

If you’re not in the market for new shoes right now, you can do a quick modification to the ones you have. Put some masking tape on the sole at the ball of your foot. I carry a roll in my bag. Just ask! This will make a slicker surface for turns and twists– your knees will appreciate this. At the very least, be aware of potential joint-stressing moves during Zumba class (such as lunges, squats, and any sort of twisting and turning) and modify the move if anything doesn’t feel right.

Also, consider using supportive inserts– I find the ones you get at sports stores superior to the drugstore kind. Whenever I buy new shoes, I immediately toss the flimsy pieces of foam inside and replace with green Superfeet inserts. Mine are from REI and the Birkenstock store on Yulupa.

After class, you can give yourself a nice foot massage by setting one foot on a tennis or golf ball and firmly rolling the bottom of your foot over it. I follow this up by putting on my super-cushy slippers or super-supportive Chacos and thank my feet for dancing through another class.

Let me know if you have any questions or other good tips to offer!