Weights are a part of any balanced exercise program, and ankle weights have their place as well. These little belts wrap around your ankle and come in a variety of weights. As with any weights, ankle weights should be used correctly and with the right exercises. Just strapping them on and going can increase the risk of injury and joint damage. With correct use, they can be beneficial to your workout.
Ankle Weight for Strength
Ankle weights are a great addition to any strength-training program. Because they're small and easy to use, they are great for on-the-go workouts and can slip into your bag easily. Place the weights on your ankles as the directions state. They increase resistance for exercises such as leg lifts and hamstring curls. They even provide additional resistance for the upper body when worn during pullups. Begin with the lightest weight and gradually increase.
Ankle Weight and Cardio Exercise
Wearing ankle weights during cardio exercise, such as walking or running, is where there is the greatest risk of injury. Additional weight placed on the ankles creates stress on the joints and ligaments during aerobic activity. Ohio State University physical therapist Matt Briggs cautions that ankle weights alter the way the body moves during cardio exercise, and this leads to a greater risk of injury. Common injuries with ankle weights include sprains and dislocations.
Ankle Weights in the Water
There is one cardio exercise option in which ankle weights work without increased stress on the joints and muscles. In swimming and water aerobics, weights provide the additional resistance while still being kind to the joints. Water's natural buoyancy reduces stress on the joints -- your movement is slower and there is no jarring impact when you take steps.
If you have joint problems in the hips, knees or ankles, talk with a physician before using ankle weights. As with any new exercise program, a physician or physical therapist can advise you on exercises and equipment. Exercises should not cause pain. If you experience pain during exercise, stop immediately. When using ankle weights, always begin with the lowest weight and gradually increase as exercises become easier.
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