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Putting weights on tender ankles can increase your risk of injury.
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Ankle weights can turn a relatively easy routine into a challenging feat. As long as you're not overtraining, using them won't stunt your growth. However, ankle weights do carry some other risks. Talk to your doctor or trainer about the merits and risks of wearing ankle weights before you make the decision.
Stunted Growth and Weights
Weights alone won't stunt your growth. If you're already done with puberty, you're no longer growing, so you need only worry about shrinking due to conditions such as osteoporosis, not stunted growth. However, overtraining can stunt growth in developing teenagers. When you regularly work to the point of exhaustion, your body loses the energy it needs to grow. Over time, this can cause your growth to cease. In women, it can also cause a disorder known as female athlete triad, which causes eating disorders, osteoporosis and cessation of menstruation.
Bone Development and Resistance Training
High-impact, weight-bearing exercises can actually help you develop stronger bones. These routines -- which include running, weight training and similar exercises -- can help improve bone mineral density, reducing your risk of osteoporosis. However, because there are serious risks to working with ankle weights, it's better to steer clear of these weights and try other forms of resistance training instead.
Changes in Gait
Ankle weights force your body to bear more weight than it typically does during exercise. Strapping a weight on when you're running or doing another form of cardiovascular exercise can change your gait. This can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue, and it may even make your workout painful. As you increase the weight you strap on, your risks of muscle injuries, falls and improper form increase.
Risks for Bone Injury
According to Anthony Luke, a professor of orthopedics at the University of California at San Francisco, ankle weights do force your muscles to work harder. The down side of this, however, is that the additional weight on your bones can increase your likelihood of bone injuries. This risk is markedly pronounced if you already have weak bones due to osteoporosis. If you have muscle injuries or chronic conditions such as arthritis, your risk also increases.