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How do I Use Ankle Weights?

By Micki Elizabeth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ankle weights are used by strapping them around the ankles to work out or burn calories. Several manufacturers of workout equipment sell ankle weights in a variety of styles—some are elasticized and must be slid over the foot and above the ankle; other models are made of a long band that has adjustable closures to fit any width, must like a belt. These are wrapped around the leg just above the ankle and secured with velcro or a ring and hook closure. It is a good idea to look for styles with removable weight pockets so that any individual can customize the amount of weight used to fit his personal level of fitness.

Some athletes believe that training with the added weight wrapped around their ankles makes them perform better during games and races; when they remove the weights, some say they instantly feel lighter and more powerful. Non-athletes are often told that wearing such weights hidden under their clothes as they go about a daily routine will burn extra calories without extra effort. Hypothetically, ankle weights could be worn during any activity in which the ankles are not in close contact with other equipment, such as cycling. One should be aware, though, that adding weight to any workout in which the feet and ankles absorb impact almost always carries a risk of injury. Ankle weights tend to have an effect not just on ankle joints, but on knees, hips and feet—using too much weight or landing incorrectly while wearing ankle weights may lead to a painful experience, and muscles and tendons could also be pulled or bruised if weights are used incorrectly.

While some athletes and trainers have used ankle weights for years during aerobic activities, most health experts caution that the only safe exercises to do while wearing this product are those that require zero impact on the legs. Leg lifts are a typical example of one such workout. Mimicking the leg movement of a bicycle while the legs are kept in the air while wearing the weights could also be a way to get positive results while avoiding injury. Water aerobics in a shallow pool, where far less pressure is placed on the feet due to the water’s buoyancy, is another activity that some doctors recommend as safe with weights.

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Discussion Comments
By Feryll — On Jul 02, 2014

@Animandel- From my experience, I would say don't let your son wear the ankle weights when he is playing basketball. I think you should be cautious when using ankle weights in competition. As the last paragraph says, some athletes do use the weights when they are doing aerobic workouts, but any sport that involves jumping and quick movements like basketball is probably not suited for ankle weights.

Since your son is still in youth sports, I would say you definitely shouldn't let him play in the weights. His body still has a lot of growing and developing to do, so you don't want him to put any extra strain on it. Besides, there are also other exercises he can do to help improve his jumping.

By Animandel — On Jul 01, 2014

Is it safe to use ankle weights for basketball? My sons plays in the youth basketball league at the Family Y, and he is discouraged because so many of the other kids can jump higher than he can. He asked me to buy him the ankle weights, and I though it was a good idea.

He wears the weights around most of the day, and he says his calf muscles are getting larger and he thinks his jumping has improved. To be honest, I can't see a difference, but I encourage him all the same.

Now that he thinks he has seen an improvement, he wants to wear the the weights when he is playing basketball with his friends. I'm wondering is this safe, and are the ankle weights meant to be worn while you are playing games?

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