Q: I just began a step aerobics class. Can you provide some basic guidelines to follow so that I don't hurt myself?
A: To avoid placing yourself at risk for injury, you should adhere to the following bench-stepping (a.k.a., step aerobics) guidelines:
Source: Bryant, Cedric X. 101 Frequently Asked Questions about "Health & Fitness" and "Nutrition & Weight Control". Sagamore Publishing, 1999.
- Warm up for a few minutes by performing some arm movements and step patterns without the bench.
- To avoid knee injury, don't set the bench so high that you have to bend your knees more than 90 degrees at any point while stepping up.
- Stand no farther than a distance of one foot from the bench to minimize stress on your Achilles tendon and the arch of your foot.
- When you step off the bench, place your foot on the floor toe first. Then, lower your heel to the floor before taking the next step. This practice will distribute your weight over the sole of your foot and reduce the level of stress placed on your foot.
- Avoid lunging movements. Those repeated, small leaps off the step increase the intensity of the workout, but also increase the impact stress on your joints.
- Look straight ahead. Staring down at your feet can cause neck and cervical back pain.
- Stop exercising if you feel any pain in your joints. Be especially cautious if you've had previous knee pain or injury.
- Cool down after you exercise by walking or cycling for a few minutes. Then stretch.
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