Spinning colorful plastic circles around your waist sounds like an enjoyable exercise, and it is. While hooping is a calorie-burning, cardiovascular enhancing, muscle tone-improving exercise, it also brings with it some risks. The disadvantages to hooping range from bodily injuries to transportation issues, so use caution when participating in this fun, yet demanding workout.(Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)
Hula hoops are made of plastic material. Some hoops are covered with adhesive, or sticky-type tape. Other hoops are left uncovered, but may be sanded on the inside to create friction when you spin the hoop. The material, tape, or sanded plastic may cause skin irritations. The best way to avoid this is to wear well-fitting clothing that covers the skin your hoop passes over.
One of the most common disadvantages from hooping is the possibility of bruising. As a beginner, or when you are learning new tricks, you may bruise from the heavy hoop rolling over your waist, back, hips, legs or arms. A bruise may also result if you bang the hoop into your eye, head, knee or hip. The bruise is the result of broken blood vessels beneath your skin. The best way to heal from a bruise is to rest and take time away from hooping. You can also reduce your chances of getting a bruise by keeping your hoop sessions short until you build up a tolerance.
Your hips move forward and backward to push and pull the hoop around your waist. This may result in back pain or discomfort if you have a tight lower back. The pain can also travel down into your hips from pushing the hoop in one direction. Check with your doctor for ways to reduce your hip discomfort, and always spin the hoop in both directions for equal strength gains.
Muscle soreness or tendon inflammation are other disadvantages of hoop exercise. If your muscles are tired from spinning the hoop around your waist, arms or legs, take a day off from your workouts. The worry is a muscle strain from trying a new trick, or from repeatedly hooping in the same direction. Try to perform your movements in both directions around your waist, arms and legs. If your joints are inflamed, tender to the touch, or red, ice the area and speak with your doctor to rule out any serious injury.
The diameter of an adult-sized hoop measures between 37 and 45 inches. The large size of the Hula Hoop may be a disadvantage depending on where you perform your workout. If your living room does not have enough space, you can only hoop outside or in another building with a larger room. The size of the hoop does not make it easy to transport, which also limits your workout environment options.
The American Council on Exercise studied the number of calories burned from a hooping workout. The study participants used approximately 210 calories in 30 minutes of hooping. The disadvantage to this is if you are not a competent hooper and spend more time bending down to retrieve your hoop. You could get higher calorie burning from other exercises such as walking, cycling or swimming.REFERENCES & RESOURCES American Council on Exercise: ACE-Sponsored Research: Hooping: Effective Workout or Child's Play? Washington Post: Play With Heavy Hoops Hooping: A Revolutionary Fitness Program; Christabel Zamor, Ariane Conrad Hooping.org: Hooping Injuries 101