Monique Rana - Why ankle weights are not good for walking or jogging

Publish Date
Friday, 19 September 2014, 12:00AM
By Monique Rana

When I was teaching aerobic classes back in the late 1980’s early 1990’s I’d often see people walking or jogging with ankle weights strapped around their ankles. Ankle weights often use sand or other heavy granulated material as weight, though some might use steel plates. Ankle weights can enhance certain workouts and are often used for by Personal Trainers, Physiotherapists and or Physical Trainers as a tool for rehab targeting areas like your buttocks and legs. However there are significant drawbacks especially when using for walking or jogging.

Joint Impact:

  • One of the main dangers of using ankle weights is the additional weight leads to higher impact on joints for any activity where the feet leave the ground, such as walking, running or jumping. The higher impact caused by weights can lead to sprains and stress fractures. Also, the weights themselves could act as a sort of brace while they are in use, helping to support the joint. The act of supporting the muscles that normally support the ankles could lead to increased chances of sprains when the weights are not in use.
  • Another reason NOT to use ankle weights for walking: the extra weight around your ankles can toss your gait off-kilter by changing your center of gravity. This creates opportunity for a lot of various injuries, consisting of falls or missteps that cause a turned ankle. The issues continue when you remove the ankle weights because adjusting to not having the added weight around your ankles can trigger the same off-balance walking as you experienced putting the weights on.

Fit Tip:

  • Intervals training: Instead of using ankle weights to increase the cardio benefits of walking/jogging - increase the intensity of your walks by using hills and or interval/fartlek training, intervals/fartlek walk training by picking up your walking speed.
  • If time is not an issue, you can also increase the calorie burn by increasing the duration, however interval training done properly will give you the same results in shorter time.
  • Try speed walking: Pump your arms (at a 90-degree angle) vigorously as you speed up your pace. Your arms should move front-to-back and not side-to-side (commonly referred to as “chicken wings”). You can burn 5%-10% extra calories by adding this faster, more deliberate arm movement to your walks. Practice this technique over short distances until you can build up your time and speed, being sure to breathe properly the entire time. If you want to race-walk or speed walk you must learn proper technique. And practice, practice, practice.

Ankle weights are best used in resistance training/rehab, and you can consult with a personal trainer or a foot specialist to implement the use of ankle weights if needed for your resistance training programme.

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