Generally, adding weights to an exercise strengthens the involved muscles by making movements more challenging. For example, basketball players sometimes strap ankle weights to their lower legs so they can perform typical basketball moves in a more physically intensive way. Assuming you use ankle weights safely, they can strengthen your lower-body muscles, specifically your hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes.
Exercising with ankle weights might cause joint problems. For example, the sharp turns and twisting moves involved in basketball are already challenging for the human body. Increasing the force of the movements by adding ankle weights can strain your ligaments and joints, causing pain or injuries. Also, if your body grows accustomed to ankle weights, playing without them later might throw off your game.
If you already have joint problems, you shouldn't use ankle weights, according to Dr. Anthony Luke of the University of California, San Francisco, as quoted in a September 7, 2007 article in the вЂњLos Angeles Times.вЂќ A sports medicine expert, Luke agrees that ankle weights can offer strength and cardiovascular benefits. However, these benefits are not worthwhile whenever there is a high risk of joint damage.
If your joints ache or if the way you move begins to change, Luke recommends avoiding further use of ankle weights. He also suggests occasionally performing exercises without ankle weights. For maximum safety, don't use ankle weights to improve your basketball skills without discussing your plans with a certified fitness instructor or your doctor, who can offer you specific advice about what physical symptoms to watch out for.
Expert basketball coaches might be able to offer helpful tips if they have had experience with ankle-weight training. For example, basketball players aiming to increase their vertical jump should start with 2.5-pound ankle weights for the first two weeks and increase to 5 pounds after the second week, according to the book вЂњThe Ultimate Guide in Becoming a Successful Assistant Coach and/or Team Parent,вЂќ by Melissa W. Akali and Edward E. Welch, Jr. Tips like this can help you maximize the benefits of ankle weights.