For many years, it was believed that you should stretch BEFORE you began any physical activity.
Things have changed.
It is recommended that you warm up your body for at least 10 minutes before you stretch.
In fact, it is even more highly recommended that you wait until AFTER your workout to stretch.
Stretches should be held (static) and should not hurt. If you feel pain when you stretch, you are stretching too far or incorrectly.
Do NOT bounce while stretching. Your stretch should be held, and this is called a static stretch.
How does stretching relate to Zumba Fitness?
If you are taking a class, you should be properly warmed up and cooled down by your instructor. The instructor should also be demonstrating proper stretching techniques, so you are less likely to be injured. We all love the dance-fitness craze, but it’s not going to benefit anyone if we are not doing it right.
For those of you who attend my Zumba classes, think about the first 3 songs. 1st song – there’s quite a bit of step-touch with arm variations – 2nd song – eventually a grapevine … maybe a 3rd song to warm up (depending on the length of the songs) and eventually a toning song … Then, into the “core” of the playlist (which follows a formula as well). When we end class, you’re likely to hear a toning song, another song to bring our heart rate down with some stretching, and a final song that really focuses on stretching, breathing, and bringing down our heart rate.
My best advice – if you are at class early (even a little bit) – and the tunes are already playing march in place or step-touch while you talk to your friends (many of you intuitively do this already). Pretty soon, your friends will join in and realize that you’re getting your body warmed up to avoid injury. And, if you can, stay a little bit after class, too. Remember that it always takes time for us to “pack up” and you are welcome to stay and stretch even longer after class. (It was wonderful when Yoga used to be immediately after our class!)
Ultimately, it is also important for you to be educated about what works for your body and what current health and fitness professionals are saying about safe workouts. I hope these short posts are educational. Please remember that my advice does not replace your doctor’s advice or the advice of a physical therapist.
If you have a particular part of your body that bothers you or other health issues, please be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist about specific stretches that would work for you.
I’m posting a link to a great article about avoiding Zumba injuries. Why would I do that? Because having you injured will not lead your to your fitness goals.
This is my 3rd year teaching Zumba, and I have dedicated myself to making sure that I continue my training, so I can be as educated as possible about our classes.