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Monday, April 21, 2014

The Benefits and Detractors of Using Ankle and Wrist Weights



Ankle and Wrist weights can add additional pressure to any work out as well as prepare you for greater strength and speed in other sporting arenas. Ankle and wrist weights are great for kenpo, yoga, dance, and movement sports but also come with some additional risks for those engaging in repeated cardio exercise. Ensure you know when and where to wear your extra weights to develop higher levels of fitness activity. 

Extra weight means the body has to work harder to complete activities. Weight increases both muscle gain and the physiological effort required to complete activities.  The body will adjust quickly to the change of effort. When engaging in yoga, kenpo (including other martial arts), or dance this extra weight will strengthen your ability to effectively complete these complex moves when the weights are removed. 

For example, in yoga the extension of the leg or arm may benefit from the extra weight. However, the exercise has little to no negative stress impact and is primarily based on isometrics. This means that the extra weight doesn’t create impact stress on the body by placing additional load on joints and ligaments. When the weights are removed the level of effort is less.

Obviously the extra weight will also raise the cardio benefits of engaging in these activities. The heart rate will increase to pump more blood to ensure that the muscles are fed properly under this new weight. The more activity your heart engages in, the more successful you will be in improving your overall health. 

The downsides occur when completing cardio exercises such as running, walking, and sprinting. According to biomechanical and computer modeling the extra weight quickly increases the risk of injury (1).  It is argued that the risks of permanent injury far outweigh the benefits and should be avoided. 

The problem results when the body engages in the same motion over and over thereby creating repetitive tears in the muscles and prolonged wear on the ligaments and joints. The risks also exist for those who do not use weights but rises substantially when extra weight is applied. If you are adamant about the use of weights during repeat cardio exercises option for the 1-3 pound range (2). 

Using weights provides extra benefits for those engaging in martial arts, dance, yoga, and similar form style sports. The weight will help strengthen the major muscles and require the body to build the tertiary muscles to deal with the extra stress. The fitness gain is beneficial when the form exercises require enough strength to hold one’s position for prolonged periods of time. Avoid using such weights for your general cardio routines to lessen the chance of injury and forced time off of your other activities.

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