Common Risks Associated With Cardiovascular Exercise
- Stress fractures: Probably the most common type of injury to
aerobics instructors, stress fractures are caused by poor shoe
selection, hard surfaces and overuse. Women are more likely to develop
stress fractures, usually in the lesser metatarsal bones, than men.
When swelling and pain arise, be sure to see a podiatrist as soon as
possible. X-ray evaluation and early treatment can prevent a disabling
- Plantar fasciitis: More prevalently known as arch pain,
plantar fasciitis is often caused by frequent stress on the plantar
aspect, or bottom of the foot, in an aerobics routine. When the plantar
fascia, a supportive fibrous band of tissue running from the heel to
the ball of the foot, becomes inflamed, pain on the bottom of the foot
results. Forefoot and rearfoot instability with excessive pronation may
result in plantar fasciitis. Shoes with proper support in the arch
often prevent plantar fasciitis; if not, see your podiatrist for a
custom orthotic device or a recommendation for another shoe.
- Dehydration: Dehydration is a condition in which the body,
or certain body tissues, suffer from lack of water. The results are
discomfort and sometimes cracking of the skin unless it is protected by
natural lubrication or lotions and increased susceptibility of the
respiratory system to infections.
- Heel spurs: Heel spur syndrome, related to plantar
fasciitis, occurs after calcium deposits build up on the underside of
the heel bone. Heel spurs form gradually over many months. Both plantar
fasciitis and heel spurs can be avoided by a proper warm-up that
includes stretching the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot.
- Shin splints: Aside from ankle sprains, shin splints are
perhaps the most common injury to the lower body, as the muscles
attached to the shin bone bring the foot up and down. The pain is
usually associated with inflammation of the shin muscle and tendon due
to stress factors. Treat shin pain with cold compresses immediately
after working out to reduce swelling. Proper stretching before the
workout should prevent the onset of shin splints. Strengthening the
lower leg muscles also helps reduce shin splints.
- Achilles tendon and calf pain: The frequent rising on the toes that occurs during an aerobics routine often creates pain and tightness in the large muscles in the back of the legs, which can create pain and tightness in the calf and inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Again, stretching the calf muscles gently and gradually before and after the workout will ordinarily help alleviate the pain and stiffness.
What Should I Do If I Become Injured?
If you experience any of these injuries, see a physician (a podiatrist can treat most of them) who will prescribe treatments to alleviate the pain, and make recommendations to prevent recurrence of any discomfort. As foot specialists trained in all aspects of foot care, podiatrists are also qualified to perform surgery if the condition requires it.
Remember: there are good aerobics programs and bad ones. Use discretion in choosing classes to attend and/or home videos that are right for you. Always pace yourself and stop if you feel pain. Remember, foot pain is not normal so don't ignore it. Chances are a successful aerobics regimen may bring out the bodily changes you desire, both physically and mentally.