Ankle weights add load to vulnerable joints.
Ankle weights seem like an easy way to increase the intensity of your workout. You just strap them on to walk, jog, jump or lift. The added weight makes your muscles work harder, which can change the mechanics of your gait. Use them incorrectly, though, and your ankle weights can do more harm than good.
Be Aware of Gait Changes
Using ankle weights could up the intensity of your workout, potentially helping you burn more calories. A study published in a 2017 issue of the "Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation" reported that light ankle weights changed the way participants walk, indicating that ankle weights do have a significant effect on walkers. While it's not clear exactly how many more calories you burn, increasing your workout intensity with weights may help you kick your workout up a notch.
Increase Your Strength
Ankle weights also provide a convenient way to add resistance to exercises traditionally done using just your body weight, such as side leg lifts. You can also add them to glute-toning donkey kicks, which you perform by getting into an all-fours position and "kicking" one leg out toward the ceiling. You should only add ankle weights once you've mastered body-weight versions of each exercise.
More Joint Loading
The use of ankle weights to increase your workout intensity comes at a potentially high cost. Adding ankle weights can put too much load on your joints and possibly result in pain or injury. Wearing weight on your ankles could also cause you to alter your gait, creating muscle strain or imbalances. Overweight people or those with existing joint pain should definitely avoid using ankle weights. A potentially safer way to increase intensity is to add an incline or speed to your walks and runs.
Limit Your Use
Even if you don't have joint problems, you should only use ankle weights for certain activities and not for every workout, Dr. Anthony Luke, assistant professor of orthopedics and director of primary care sports medicine at UC San Francisco, told the "Los Angeles Times." They could cause a serious accident if you wear them during a bike ride and they get caught in the chain, for example. Wearing them all the time is more likely to induce joint stress rather than muscle-building and calorie-burning benefits.