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Making Use of Ankle Weights in Soccer

As a coach, I can see how a “smart” athlete might see the value in ankle weights. Among other things, they are small, inexpensive, easy to find, portable, and they’ve been around for years.

And of course, as an athlete it would make sense to use them to get an extra workout doing what comes naturally, wearing them throughout the course of a normal day, or training by walking or running in them. Fact is, some companies even market ankle weights that way. Athletes that do that are making a mistake.

The Dangers of Ankle Weights
Ankle weights, put added stress on your joints, including knees and well, ankles. This can lead to things like

  • ACL tears
  • sprained ankles
  • back problems
In addition, wearing ankle weights while walking causes you to change your natural stride. Not only can this cause you to lose your balance and potentially fall and injure yourself, but it can also wreak havoc on your speed by shortening your stride and throwing off your form.

Does this mean ankle weights are useless to athletic fitness? Of course not.

Uses for Ankle Weights
Ankle weights can play a very positive role in resistance training to build strength.

When used properly, the drawbacks of ankle weights can be turned into positives by allowing athletes to strengthen the same joints and ligaments that are at risk when used improperly.

So what can I do? Here are some ankle weight exercises that can be incorporated into a good conditioning program.

Lower Body Strengthening Using Ankle Weights

Straight Leg Raise

(both images borrowed from best-leg-exercises)
  • Lie on your back on a firm surface. This can be the floor, the ground, or even a sturdy table.
  • The leg you are exercising should be completely straight (no bend in the knee).
  • The opposite leg should be flexed so that the foot is flat on the supporting surface (see picture).
  • Now contract your quadricep muscle and slowly raise your leg.
    • Note: there is contradictory advice as to how far it should be raised for best results.
      • The picture shows the leg raised until the hips are parallel.
      • I suggest lifting your leg until the ankle is about 12 inches off the ground.
  • Hold for a brief moment, then slowly lower your leg to the starting position.

Knee Extension

(image borrowed from nismat.org)
  • Sit on a table or other sturdy, elevated surface with lower legs dangling over the side.
    • Hold the table to support your upper body.
  • Slowly straighten your leg until your knee is completely extended.
  • Hold for a brief moment, then slowly lower your leg to the starting position.

Ankle Inversion and Eversion

(image borrowed from nismat.org)
  • Secure ankle weight to the instep of the foot.
  • Lie with the foot and ankle not supported by the ground or table but also not relaxed (see picture).
  • Slowly rotate the ankle until the toes point as high upward as possible.
  • Bring foot to starting position.
  • Slowly rotate the ankle until the toes point as much toward the ground as possible
  • Note: This can also be done in a sitting position, rotating the ankles left and right instead of up and down.
For a handful of additional exercises that you can do using ankle weights, check out best-leg-exercises.com’s short section.

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4 comments

  1. My sons soccer team just started using ankle weights during some of the drills but also during
    Shooting. This concerns me as it cussed some knee pain in the following days. What are your thoughts on this. My son is13 and the weights were 5lbs.

  2. Sir what is the harmful effect to use ankle means what exercises we have to do to use ankle by running and tricks

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