If you are a fitness walker who straps on ankle weights to burn a few extra calories, you may want to leave the weights at home the next time you head out the door. The fact is, if you continue walking with weights, you may be setting yourself up for injury and, on top of that, you're probably not burning that many more calories.
According to Mel Cave, the Director of Physical Therapy at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group. “Walking with even light weights strapped to the ankles changes the gait significantly and, especially as the walker tires, can lead to improper body alignment, which in turn can cause painful knee, hip and back injuries.”
The same is true with hand weights. They increase the momentum of the walker's swinging arms beyond their normal extension and the over-swinging can trigger problems.
"We see damage to walkers' shoulders and upper arm ligaments and tendons caused by unnatural stretching of the arms while carrying weights," says Cave. "And walking with weights may even work against the goal of burning more calories since the added weight may cause the arms and then the legs to move more slowly, wiping out even the small, additional calorie utilization."
If you want to intensify your walking with weights, consider a weighted vest that evenly distributes the additional load around the core, a part of the body that can offer support without excessive strain.