Why Are Ankle Weights Bad?

Female foot
Ankle weights can cause joint pain. (Image: Hlib Shabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images)

Ankles weights are commonly used during aerobic workouts, such as running. The advantages of wearing ankle weights while exercising are outweighed by the negative impact they can have on your body. This is something you should especially take into consideration if you are frail, have joint problems or are overweight. Speak to your doctor if you use ankle weights and suffer from joint pain.


Ankle weights are typically used during cardiovascular exercise to add more resistance to your leg movements, thereby working the muscle groups more vigorously. If you are healthy and don't have a history of joint problems, using ankle weights will most likely not impact your body adversely. If, however, you experience joint pain in your ankle or knee, stop using the ankle weights immediately. While ankle weights may optimize your workout somewhat, risking injury and pain does not justify their use.


If you already suffer from joint pain, ankle weights are not recommended for exercise, including brisk walking. The added weight can cause strains in leg muscles and in the ankle joint. Strains can further lead to serious injuries. If you are concerned with optimizing your walks, you can increase the pace and/or distance or even introduce short spurts of jogging. These techniques are far more effective in promoting fitness than ankle weights.


Some wear ankle weights to train for sports, such as basketball. Wearing ankle weights is unlikely going to help increase your vertical jump or make you faster. Though the added weight may provide a more effective cardiovascular workout, the risk for injury increases. Wearing ankle weights while training and performing movements such as jumps and turns can lead to serious strains and ligament damage. Performing such maneuvers is strenuous enough on your body without the added resistance.

Strength Training

Incorporate a strength-training routine to build your leg muscles. This is a much more effective method for developing your lower body and cuts down the risk of injury and chance for joint pain. The difference between strength training and wearing ankle weights is control. A weight machine is designed to isolate certain muscle groups and train them without causing any adverse affects. Exercises, such as calf raises, leg extensions and squats, are much more efficient at developing strength and are safer than ankle weights.

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