Hand, ankle weights must be used carefully

Q and A

August 05, 2005|By Gailor Large | By Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

Is it true that it's a bad idea to use hand or ankle weights when doing cardio because it can stretch or strain ligaments?

Dr. Wayne Leadbetter, an orthopedic surgeon and sports-medicine expert at Sinai Hospital, says that most studies on training with added weight have been positive. When performed correctly, a workout is more efficient with weight than without.

But you need to use extremity weights carefully. Variables include the amount of weight used, the range and speed of limb movement, the type of activity and your individual susceptibility to musculoskeletal injury, Leadbetter says.

Translation: If you're 110 pounds and decide to run with a 10-pound weight in each hand, chances are you're going to get injured. The tendons of the shoulder's rotator cuff can take only so much. The same goes for the knees.

If you're uncomfortable using extremity weights, increasing the speed or incline of your workout is another way to intensify your routine without weights.

If you're interested in starting to use extremity weights, Leadbetter says the Heavyhands walking guide (www.heavy handsfitness.com) is one place to find tips.

At our pool recently, I saw a guy wearing what looked like a music headset. Is there a waterproof equivalent of the iPod?

What you saw was probably the popular SwiMP3 player by Finis. This pocket-sized underwater music player attaches to the back of the head with goggles. The headset actually rests on your cheekbones, sending the music to your inner ear through sound vibrations. Users say the sound quality is excellent.

Other companies, including Oregon Scientific and RCA, have similar waterproof MP3s (RCA's is actually "splashproof," not waterproof). As far as we know, there's no Apple iPod equivalent, although it may be only a matter of time.

If you need that music fix during your swim, another option is to buy an airtight waterproof casing for your iPod or MP3. For some cool choices that will keep your tunes dry, check out www.H2Oaudio.com.

A friend has been using something called SprinkleThin. You sprinkle it on food to help you lose weight. Is this safe?

SprinkleThin, a product created by neurologist and psychiatrist Alan Hirsch, is designed to enhance the flavor of food with its scented crystals and make you feel full faster.

Sound too good to be true?

While many, including Dateline NBC and Diane Sawyer, have had positive things to say about the formula, the jury is still out. SprinkleThin may be the exception, but diet products like it are usually a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Also, this product is still new, so it may have undiscovered side effects. And remember, the faster you lose weight, the more likely the weight is to return. Lose weight the old-fashioned way -- through exercise and a healthy diet -- and your chances of staying trim are much better.

Do you have a fitness question? You can submit questions via e-mail to fitness@baltsun.com, or online at baltimoresun.com / healthscience, or in writing to The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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