Can weightlifting improve my running?

It’s all about the latest fitness fads, and ankle and wrist weights are making a resurgence. Athletes looked for alternative training methods when gyms were closed because of the pandemic. There has been a steady influx of runners using strap weights.

Colleen Brough, D.P.T., MS, board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist, and director of Columbia RunLab at Columbia University, states, “the trend is clear: Runners and especially recreational runners have fully embraced the ankle and wrist. Weights trend.” However, are there any genuine advantages to weight training? If this is the case, what exactly are they?

Why you should run with weights when you’re exercising

It may be possible to combine strength training and cardiovascular fitness in the same workout, according to Brough. Some believe the heavier burden being dragged during the run is causing greater strength increases.”

Strength and endurance can be built by increasing your body’s load, making it work a little harder to complete the same action (running).

“The increased weight causes the muscles to work harder. An orthopedic surgeon at Phoenix Spine & Joint, Eric A. Eifler, M.D., CAQSM, states, “Muscles that work harder get stronger through muscle fiber growth, better muscle fiber recruitment or more blood vessel growth to or inside the muscle to give more oxygen to the working cells.”

Over time, your body will be able to cope with the added strain. “Runners are stressing their bodies more than they would be without the weight,” explains Eifler. They find it easier to run without the weight when they do so again.

Running faster, easier, or farther is possible when carrying less weight.

To keep up with the increased demand for oxygen, the heart and the lungs will also have to work harder. “The [cardiovascular system] undergoes adaptive modifications due to this enhanced training stress,” adds Eifler. In this way, the additional weight promotes muscular strength and endurance, as well as cardiovascular endurance.

Running with weights has some risks.

Adding ankle weights to any run may seem like a reasonable training method for runners who want to “improve” their training, but it isn’t risk-free. Wearing them while jogging can cause you to alter your stride, which is one of the most prevalent negative side effects.

Exercises that place extra stress on joints like the back and hips can cause the gait pattern to become distorted. This can lead to major damage,” explains RSP Nutrition Certified Personal Trainer Emily Hutchins. It is possible to develop muscular imbalances and acute injuries while walking or running because of the repeated nature of the activity.

Katie Lawton, ME.d, an exercise physiologist in Sports Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, adds that this can put additional strain on the hip flexors, IT band, and extrinsic muscles of the feet, increasing the risk of injury.

Low back discomfort, patellofemoral syndrome, IT band syndrome, lower extremity joint pain, cartilage degeneration, and muscle strains are all possible outcomes of poor biomechanics, according to Eifler.

It would help if you also were concerned about the possibility of more serious injuries due to carrying extra weight.

A sudden increase in weight stresses the bones and joint cartilage, which must bear the weight. Stress fractures in the feet and hips are prevalent among runners due to overtraining, adds Eifler, and this extra weight damages those tissues, resulting in joint pain or stress fractures.

Ultimately, the dangers of running with a greater burden outweigh the benefits.