Ankle weights may seem like an easy way to add strength training to your walking or running routine. But it’s not so simple when you consider the risks it may have. Even though athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo share that they use ankle weights while practicing their sports– the question is, are they good for you while walking and running?
How Not to Use Ankle Weights
Ankle weights are wearable weights. You may see people wrap around each ankle a neoprene strap with weights and secure it with Velcro before a run, a walk, or a workout routine. But it is not recommended to walk or do aerobics workouts with ankle weights. Ankle weights force you to use your quadriceps (the muscles in the fronts of the thighs) and not the hamstrings (the muscles in the backs of the thighs). This can lead to muscle imbalance and can cause serious health problems. It can also lead to changes in your body that may not be unappealing.
In addition, ankle weights increase the risk of tendon or ligament injuries to the knees, hips, and back, especially if you use them often.
Try a simple stair-climbing or uphill walking instead of walking or running with ankle weight. These exercises are more effective as aerobic and cardiovascular exercises than other exercises using ankle weights.
Ankle Weights: The Right Way
Ankle weights are not suitable for walking or running. However, they are great for exercises that target specific muscles, such as leg lifts to strengthen the leg and hip muscles. If properly used, ankle weights will:
- Improve your endurance because the needed extra force improves your cardiovascular and pulmonary health
- Tone your legs more effectively than simply adding more repetitions
- Add variety to our routine
- Burn more calories
You may even find ankle weights in a swimming pool, which can help athletes improve their swimming without the risk of joint injuries. But, using ankle weights underwater strengthens the knee and ankle joints.
Walking or Running With Ankle Weights
If you still decide to walk or run with extra weight, try using a weighted vest rather than ankle weights. The vest hangs from your shoulders and has pockets for weights. Like most things in life, try not to overdo it — the vest should not go above 10% of your weight. Do not use a weighted vest if you have back or neck problems because it adds pressure to your spine.