Ankle weights create a convenient way to add weight and resistance to your workout. Because of their small size, you can take them on the go and get a strength-building workout without going to the gym. While ankle weights can increase leg strength, you should not just strap them on and go walking. Ankle weights are an effective exercise tool but also increase injury risk if not used correctly.
Ankle weights are not recommended for use with traditional walking, running or any other type of cardiovascular exercise. The added weight to your legs puts pressure on the legs, joints and spine. To work against the additional weight, your natural gait shifts. This can result in strains, torn ligaments and disc problems in the spine.
Wearing ankle weights for water walking is a safe way to add strength training to your walking workout. Water provides natural buoyancy and resistance, so the addition of the ankle weights does not increase impact on joints. There are two possible ways to water walk in the pool. You can walk in waist-deep water where you walk naturally from one side to the other, or with the use of a flotation belt, you can move the walking workout to deep water to further reduce impact on your joints.
In addition to water walking, ankle weights can help increase leg strength through traditional strength-training exercise. Exercises like leg lifts and hamstring curls with ankle weights increase the resistance to the muscles. This provides a workout similar to using a weight machine or exercise band.
Consult a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program. If you are just starting with ankle weights, begin with the lowest weight available and gradually increase as exercises become easy. If you are using ankle weights in the pool, make sure that there is someone in the pool with you in case of injury. This is especially true when walking in deep water with ankle weights. When using weights, you should feel tension in the muscles when performing the exercise, but you should not feel pain. If you do, stop the exercise immediately.
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.