Sore Knees in Dance? 4 Ways to Protect Your Knees
Do your knees feel sore during or after dance?
When we moved to Maui in 2016, I started to notice sore knees after dance classes. And since teaching dancing is one of my favorite things to do, I went on a mission to figure out what was going on.
Note: While I’m a health coach and dance teacher of 20+ years, I’m not a doctor nor a physical therapist. If you’re experiencing joint pain, it’s always best to see a specialist who is trained and certified in joint health. What I’m sharing is my personal journey, what worked for me, and common sense things that help you maintain healthy joints, flexibility, and overall well-being.
4 Easy Ways to Protect + Strengthen Your Knees
1. Wear running shoes you can easily pivot (turn) in.
This means running shoes with a smooth bottom below the ball of the foot — ie: without treads. This is a simple sore knees antidote.
Treads are great for running, walking, or in the gym, but they’re not so good for dancing. Because their job is to grab surfaces for stability, treads will make you stick to the floor. This can wrench your knees, especially when you’re turning or spinning around — not what you want in dance.
I’m really into Nike’s Epic React Flyknit running shoe right now because it gives lots of cushiony support, and comes in lots of fun colors. As you can see from the picture, they have almost non-existent treads — it looks like they have been worn down.
If you need less support/cushion in your shoe and/or don’t have any knee issues, Zumba does some great dance shoes as well.
Note: When I’m in Bali or anywhere with wood or springy floors, I teach in bare feet. However, most western studios have concrete beneath their flooring, which is NOT great for knees. When in doubt, wear shoes for support.
2. Minimize twisting or jumping movements
Most Latin-based cardio fitness (SoulFit™ Dance, Zumba) tend to have a lot of twisting movements — which can be jarring for the knees.
Your knees (and the muscles surrounding them) will get stronger with better shoes and stretching, but in the meantime, minimize and replace twisting or jumping movements.
The cool thing about dance is that all movements can be replaced by something else. Twisting movements can be replaced with side-to-side movements. Jumps can be replaced with marching in place.
You never have to stop, just do something else — or like we say in SoulFit Dance — just rock it out for a few beats on your own. Everyone will want to do what you’re doing!
3. Stretch after class and every day
Don’t be like me thinking I was invincible — and didn’t need to stretch after class, or in daily life.
Stretching only takes a tiny amount of time to do, but has a massive positive impact on your overall health. Most cardio dance classes have a warm-up, but don’t have enough stretching at the end — because they’re rushing to end before the next class.
In SoulFit™ Dance we always do a 3-5 min warm-down that hits all your crucial muscles to support muscle and joint health. Everything we do is designed to keep you injury-free, flexible…and dancing.
At home, simply do the same stretches we do at the end of class. Add one more thing — a forward fold to touch your toes, or just grasp your elbows. Forward folds releases so much in your body — I’ll show you this simple stretch in your next SoulFit™ Dance class together — Live or on Zoom.
One more tip: Use a foam roller at home on your quads, calves, sides of the legs, and above the knees. The self-massage helps release the tight muscles that PULL on your knees — which will also reduce soreness.
4. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet as much as possible
An anti-inflammatory diet simply means to minimize and replace foods that create inflammation such as sugar, high glycemic carbs, fried foods…and to maximize anti-inflammatory foods such as healthy proteins, low glycemic carbs, and good fats (think salmon, blueberries, and nuts).
In short: Minimize and replace the not-so-great foods, and maximize the healthy-for-you foods.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t ever have your favorite foods (or drinks!). However, the more you crowd out unhealthy food and replace them with healthier choices, the more your weight, skin, hair, mood, and knees will love you for it.
If you’re looking for a guided 5 Week Nutrition Program — check out my SexyFit® Nutrition Challenge, created specifically for my dance students (and about to get a facelift shortly!) It’s not a diet or about deprivation — it’s about learning how to eat healthy for life, enjoyably.
If you’re looking for a specific supplement to help with joint health — my favorite is USANA’s Procosa (Procosamine in Australia). The combination of ultra high-grade glucosamine and turmeric gave me quick results, especially when used in conjunction with BioMega (mercury-free fish oil) and Cellsentials (Multi-Vitamin, Anti-oxidants + Minerals).
These 4 strategies holistically combine inner and outer health — and put you in the driver’s seat of your own health + well-being.
If you have any questions to go deeper, feel free to reach out in the comments or to me personally.
Over To You!
- Have you been experiencing sore knees?
- Which tip was most helpful for you to put into action?
- What is your favorite for cardio fitness dance shoe? Tell us in the comments!
As always, the best part of blogging is the conversation afterward — your comments help and inspire others, and I love interacting with all of you.
PS: Think someone would benefit from this blog? Sharable icons on the left.
Lots of love,
PPS: Want more tips and strategies for staying healthy for life? Check out my free PDF The Top 5 Mistakes Women Make In Creating Genuine Health (and how to avoid them!).
Have you tried a SoulFit Dance Class yet? We have weekly online (worldwide) and live (Noosa, Australia) classes. Register here for your first class — bring your kids, friends, partner — it’s a blast!