s: Over the past three years, I’ve lost 40 pounds and become a regular exerciser. At the time, I was working out at home with dumbbells and resistance bands. I recently added ankle weights to my machines and found that they greatly increased my ability to comfortably walk even though I only wear them when doing strength training at home. Should I wear it when I go out for a walk?
a: our end! You must be feeling great. Ankle weights are a great addition to a home exercise group as they can be used to increase your workload while doing standing, seated, or lying down leg raises. I recommend using them while doing side leg raises, walking on the spot, back leg raises and even the “glute” kneeling position. While they only weigh between 1 and 5 pounds, they make a difference when added to your workout. If you’ve been doing these movements for a long time with just your leg weight, the extra weight is a good way to ensure some progress in your training. If you are doing this, this is likely the reason why you are noticing an improvement in your gait. Strengthening your muscles increases functional ability.
On the other hand, walking with ankle weights strapped to your legs is not recommended as it increases the risk of suffering from repetitive injury or injury to a joint such as the ankle, knee or hip. Wearing extra weight too close to the foot disrupts walking mechanics and alters your gait, which can lead to joint pain or injury. Pulling weight on the ankle joint can lead to injuries to the ligaments of the hips, knees, and even the back. In addition, altering your gait with ankle weights increases your risk of losing balance or falling.
The best way to increase the workload of your walking trails is to increase your pace, climb hills or stairs, and/or add short bursts of high-speed walking or jogging. A fun way to do this is to randomly pick telephone poles or other markers as you walk and double your speed until you reach the marker before slowing down again.
In my opinion, you should continue to use ankle weights, but limit their use to strength training exercises to get the benefits without the risks.
s: I often see you refer to “resistance bands” in your workout charts or recommendations for home equipment. I have a long, thin, flat rubber band left over from when I was going to physical therapy for a shoulder injury. Is this what you refer to when you mention resistance bands?
a: No, there are a few types of rubber bands that are used for different things. The one you describe is a “Theraband”. It’s a great tool to use when rehabilitating an injured joint or training low strength for someone who may be recovering from an illness or living with a chronic condition such as MS, Parkinson’s disease or osteoarthritis. Having said that, Therabands come in various thicknesses (and resistance levels) and can also be used for specific exercises for advanced exercisers.
The bands I’m referring to are usually round (like tubes) and have handles to which they can be attached. They are usually available in sets where the bands of different colors and resistance levels can be attached to a pair of handles with metal clips. By adding more or less bands, resistance levels can range from 5 to 150 pounds, providing a wide range of possibilities for beginners to seasoned strength trainers.
My favorite feature of this type of resistance band set is that it comes with a door attachment, allowing the exerciser to create a pulley-type system to expand the range of exercise possibilities even further.