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What Do Ankle Weights Do?

Weighted bands strapped to your ankles provide resistance when performing isolated strength training exercises. Ankle weights can also help with rehabilitating certain injuries. Wearing ankle weights while performing exercises other than focused strength training, such as when jogging, increases the risk of joint and muscle damage. Instead of making you run faster, training incorrectly with ankle weights alters your stride and teaches poor form.

Using Them Correctly

Using ankle weights correctly increases the strength of major leg muscles, isolating and toning your hamstrings and glutes without expensive equipment. Slow movements, such as leg lifts, strengthen the muscles without risking damage to your knees or hip joints. Keeping your legs slightly bent prevents over-extension of your knees as well. By contrast, fast movement with ankle weights stresses your tendons and ligaments.

Using to Recover From Injury

Light ankle weight training offers help in recovering from injuries such as hamstring pulls and sprained ankles. Injured ankles respond to light resistance training using first stationary objects and then ankle weights. You press against the fixed object with your injured foot, pushing front, back and to either side. Repeating the range-of-motion exercises with ankle weights strengthens supporting muscles and along with other exercise could reduce recuperation time by months, according to a peer-reviewed article in the January 2001 "American Family Physician."

When Out Walking

Walkers who wear ankle weights burn more calories without increasing the pace of the walk. Problems arise when you pick up the pace, since the weights put unusual strain on your hip joints, knees, ankles and leg muscles. Wearing ankle weights on a brisk walk or run could exaggerate existing problems. Increasing the calorie burn by simply walking faster without the weights, or choosing an uphill route, yields the same benefits without the risk.

Treating Sarcopenia

As you age, muscle mass and muscle tissue quality both decrease. Reasonable strength training helps prevent sarcopenia, muscle loss and weakness due to age. Strength training also reduces the severity of osteoporosis or thinning of bones. Ankle weights add beneficial resistance to important exercises like heel raises, knee flexion, hip extension, knee extension and leg raises to the side.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.