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Cardio vs. Weight Training

Cardiovascular Exercise Risks

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 injury.

  • 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.