I am constantly reminding my students to watch their knees when squatting and doing lunges. Yes, we all know Zumba is "exercise in disguise" but guess what . . . .it's still exercise and proper form is VERY important! You have no idea. In Zumba we perform varieties of squats and lunges and you may not even notice. Salsa songs, Reggaeton songs, and Cumbia songs (think *Machete step) are full of them. Sometimes I feel like a nag in class but trust me, I just don't want you to get hurt.
I'll get a little technical since I am studying for the ACE Personal Trainer exam: A correct squat will target all the muscles of the lower extremity (legs) such as your quadriceps, calves, hip flexors and lower back but most importantly its going to strengthen your hamstrings and gluteals which will provide long term protection for your knees.
So what does a correct squat look like? Like this:
Yes, she performing a squat on a level floor and she hasn't just been jumping around like crazy trying to catch up to choreography. Ok, I give you that . . . sometimes . . . especially as a beginner student . . . it's hard to think about form when you have NO IDEA what I am doing. It's still not an excuse. ;-)
When squatting in Zumba or Zumba Toning, these are some things I want you to be mindful of:
- Maintain a straight-upper torso
- Feet are flat on the floor
- When you lower yourself, make sure the upper part of your legs are parallel to the floor (too far down can cause inappropriate strain)
- Lastly, take note of your knee position. Your knees should not go past your toes. If you are leaning forward. This could be a cause of poor upper body alignment.
- Avoid poor alignment by pushing back with your glutes.
- Use both your heels and the balls of your foot. This increases the power of your squat and helps maintain balance.
Try to take note of these tips next time you are at the gym or at Zumba and you will see the difference. I am sure you will feel it!