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Can Ankle Weights Cause Foot Pain?

Millions of Americans strapĀ  weights around their ankles during their daily jog, but some fitness experts say that using them may cause foot and ankle pain.

Ankle weights are pouches that have weights, sand or water inside. When strapped to your ankles or wrists, they add between three and 20 pounds of resistance to any lower body movement.

While this extra resistance helps you burn more calories, it may not be a great idea for your feet and ankles. To learn more, keep reading!

(picture by Walking.About.com)

“Use of added weight to the limbs will definitely change the way someone walks, runs, and moves,” says Matt Briggs, a physical therapist at Ohio State University. “There is some bio-mechanical and computer modeling evidence demonstrating this. In certain populations it may be bad. It will definitely require more muscle activation compared to without the use of dumbbells or ankle weights.”

In many cases, athletes can sense this difference, but may think that injuries resulting from these weights can never happen to them. However, as time goes on people using ankle weights may experience pain.

In March 2002, the Division of HPR-Exercise Science at Wayne State University conducted a study that dealt with the effects of ankle weights on muscular fitness, body composition profile and psychological effect.

Researchers found that those who used ankle weights didn’t get much benefit from them in terms of muscular fitness. They also caution that these weights increase the workload on your joints. The heavier the weights, the more likelihood of injuries such as sprains, dislocations and ligament tears. F

“If someone did too much of an activity with the weight, then it could be bad, as it could cause or exacerbate an overuse injury,” Briggs said. “Adding that weights that are too heavy or that are gripped too tightly could overload the muscles. If someone has poor balance and is at risk of falls it could be bad and potentially increase their risk for falls even more.”

Some physical therapists note, however, that these weights do have their place. For those recovering from injuries or surgeries, ankle weights could be used for rehabilitation from injury.

“Ankle weights are used all the time in outpatient rehabilitation for strengthening,” says John Dewitt, a physical therapist from Ohio State University. “There is evidence for their use in neurologic rehabilitation, such as post-stroke, to encourage normal movement patterns.”

“All said and done, the use of added weight to theĀ  lower extremity will require more energy and active control,” Briggs adds. “If someone is not able to control the weight properly, then it could be a bad thing.”

Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.

Please call 626-447-2184 (Arcadia) or 818-408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

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