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Is Running With Ankle Weights Safe?

by Lisa M. Wolfe

About Lisa M. Wolfe

A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.


One of the goals of exercise is to burn the most calories in the least amount of time. Running has always been one of the highest calorie-burning activities. But running also results in impact to the knees, ankles and feet, so the addition of weight to the lower leg is not recommended.


Your foot is the first of your body's shock absorbers when it contacts a running surface. Toes help you get a feel for the terrain and also push your body forward toward the next step. The middle and arch of the foot help to spread the force of contact from side to side. Your heel spreads this force forward and side to side so that not all impact is felt in one place.


The ankle is next in line to absorb the shock while running. It also allows you to pull your toes up and toward the shin to pick up the foot in preparation for the next step. An ankle weight will inhibit this motion and possibly interfere with your sense of balance while running.


The knee joint links your upper and lower leg and allows you to bend and straighten your leg during running. Your muscles are the movers of this joint; while you run, the entire leg functions together for a smooth movement. Your knee also contains shock absorbers in the form of cartilage to reduce the impact from running.

Ankle Weights

The Mayo Clinic does not recommend the use of ankle weights. Adding weight on this extremity increases your chances of straining a muscle or injuring a joint. Your body depends on cues from your feet and ankles to maneuver through your run. When you offset these cues through additional weight, it affects the foot, ankle and knee.


For increased challenge during your run, run either longer or faster. If the addition of weights is still high on your list, you can add them in a backpack. Continue to use caution, as any additional weight causes impact to the shock absorbers in your lower body. Seek the advice of your physician before beginning an exercise program, especially if it involves adding weights while running.

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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.