Yes. It’s less common but very possible.
Fitness trackers like Fitbit are typically worn on the wrist to monitor steps, heart rate, sleep, and more. But for some users, wearing a tracker on the ankle seems to be a better choice.
Is this an option, and how do you do it properly? This guide covers everything you need to know about wearing a Fitbit or other band on your ankle – from the most popular model (Fitbit) to pros and cons.
Can I Really Wear a Fitness Tracker on My Ankle?
While less common than wrist-wearing, many fitness bands and watches can indeed be worn comfortably on the ankle with no loss of functionality.
According to a survey by Pew Research center, there are nearly 21% of smartwatch owners, with a good number using ankle fitness trackers. Reasons include better comfort, improved heart rate signal, and the ability to hide the tracker discreetly under pants.
As long as the band fully encircles and sits snugly on the ankle, the motion sensors and optical heart rate sensor will continue working as expected. Step counting accuracy may improve on the ankle as well compared to the wrist.
So if you find wearing a tracker on your wrist bothersome or inaccurate, trying the ankle can make sense. Most models with a removable band can easily be swapped to an ankle position.
How To Properly Wear A Fitbit On The Ankle?
Wearing a Fitbit or other fitness band properly on your ankle is important for accurate tracking. Follow these tips:
Choose the Correct Ankle Size
Measure the circumference of your ankle to determine the right band size. Add about 1/2 inch to allow room for some compression against your skin. Most Fitbit bands come in both small and large sizes.
Position it 2-3 Finger Widths Above the Ankle Bone
Place the tracker a couple of finger widths up from the protruding ankle bone, away from the bone itself. This area has the best blood flow.
Wear it on the Inside of Your Ankle
For best heart rate signal and comfort, position the sensor side of the band against the inside of your ankle rather than the outside area.
Secure the Band Snugly
Make sure to fasten the band tight enough that it maintains full contact with the skin, will not slide down, and does not rotate around the ankle. You should be able to fit a finger underneath.
Have the Heart Rate Sensor Make Direct Skin Contact
Unlike the wrist where you may wear a tracker over a sleeve, expose the actual skin of your ankle so that the heart rate sensor has direct contact.
Check the Tightness as Your Day Progresses
Re-check and adjust the tightness occasionally as needed to maintain a secure fit as you move around and swell throughout the day.
Can Fitness Trackers Monitor Your Heart Rate on Your Ankle?
As long as the optical heart rate sensor maintains direct contact with skin over an area with blood perfusion, it can provide accurate measurements from the ankle just as well as the wrist.
In fact, several studies comparing wrist vs ankle heart rate monitoring found:
- Ankle positioning resulted in fewer motion-related reading errors during exercise.
- At high intensities, ankle heart rate readings were more accurate than wrist readings when referenced against ECG chest straps.
- Overall heart rate tracking from the ankle was comparable to clinical-grade measurements.
Wearing Fitness Tracker on Wrist vs Ankle
The table below provides a clear picture of between wearing a fitness tracker on your wrist vs your ankle.
|Pros||Easier to view the display|
|More conventional placement|
|Slightly easier to put on|
|Better GPS connectivity|
|Cons||Can impact wrist mobility|
|More prone to impact damage on hands|
|Less accurate heart rate|
|Pros||Increased heart rate accuracy|
|Reduced motion artifacts|
|More comfortable for some|
|Hidden discreetly under pants|
|Allows wrist mobility|
|Cons||Harder to view display|
|Slightly harder to put on|
|Increased risk of impact on ankles|
Benefits of Wearing a Fitbit and Others on Your Ankle
True, wearing your fitness tracker on the wrist allows easier display and is more common visually. But ankle wearing can provide better heart rate signal, increased comfort, and no wrist interference, while tracking just as accurately.
Here are the benefits of wearing Fitbit, one of the most popular fitness trackers, among other fitness trackers on your ankle.
- Better comfort and ergonomics – For those who find wristwatches irritating or constantly banging into objects, the ankle provides a more low-profile wearing option. Trackers tend to feel less obtrusive on the ankle.
- Improved heart rate tracking – As mentioned, multiple studies have shown heart rate monitoring from the ankle can improve accuracy and reduce erratic readings compared to the wrist during intense exercise.
- More accurate step counting – With your hands freely swinging rather than anchored on a treadmill, step counting from the ankle tends to be more precise than wrist step counting which can suffer from arm movement quirks.
- Ability to hide the tracker – Positioning the band around the ankle allows conveniently hiding it under pants, out of view. This appeals to those who dislike the look of wristwatches.
- Wrist flexibility – Freeing up the wrist allows greater flexibility and freedom of motion without bumping the tracker on things. No more clunky wrist feeling.
- Still tracks 24/7 activity – While less common visually, an ankle tracker monitors daily activity like steps, calories, and idle alerts just as effectively. Sleep tracking performance is unchanged as well.
Are There Any Downsides of Wearing a Fitness Tracker on Your Ankle?
Along with the benefits, there are a few disadvantages to consider with ankle tracker placement:
- Difficulty viewing the display – Unlike glancing at your wrist, reading stats on an ankle-worn tracker requires slightly more effort and movement. However, many metrics can be reviewed later in the app.
- Decreased GPS performance – Built-in GPS connectivity can suffer more interference around the ankle compared to the open sky view of the wrist. But connected GPS via your phone is less impacted.
- Increased risk of impact damage – Exposing the tracker’s face on the inside of your ankle increases the risk of scraping or cracking it into objects accidentally. A screen protector helps minimize this risk.
- Sweat and irritation – Heat, sweat, and friction around the ankle can cause skin irritation for some people – especially those prone to eczema or other skin conditions. Monitor for any irritation.
- Difficulty with clasp – Securing a band around the ankle can be trickier to fasten yourself compared to the wrist, especially for those with limited flexibility. Consider adhesive bands.
- Less common/unconventional visually – Ankle wearing still lacks the ubiquity of wrist wearing when it comes to fitness bands. However, trends continue to shift toward alternatives.
While wrist-worn fitness trackers dominate, more users are exploring the perks of ankle-wearing for key benefits like improved comfort, discretion, and heart rate signals.
Thankfully most fitness bands today provide the adjustable bands and full functionality required for seamless ankle wearing. For best results, prioritize direct skin contact, a snug fit without constriction, and positioning it above the ankle bone.
If the pros sound appealing, consider trialing an ankle tracker position for yourself. At the end of the day, comfort and accurate data matter more than conforming to common wearing conventions. Wear it how it works best for you!
Do I need a special band to wear a tracker on my ankle?
Most standard fitness tracker bands can be worn on the ankle as long as they fully wrap around and fasten securely. Look for small/large sizing and adjustable holes to fine-tune ankle fit.
How do I stop skin irritation from the band?
Wear the band slightly looser, clean the skin and band regularly, apply lotion to the area under the band, and switch to a breathable sports band or nylon material if moisture is an issue.
Will wearing a Fitbit on my ankle drain the battery faster?
There is no difference in battery drain whether you wear it on the wrist or ankle. The optical heart rate sensor uses the same power in both areas when activated. Step counting has minimal impact.
Can I swim with my tracker on my ankle?
Most Fitbit models and other water-resistant trackers can safely be worn swimming on the ankle, just like the wrist. The waterproofing allows submersion equally at both positions.
Do I need a phone to sync data from an ankle tracker?
For real-time syncing throughout the day, a phone connection is required via Bluetooth if your tracker lacks onboard memory. For trackers with memory, like some Fitbit models, you can store data directly on the device while not connected to a phone and sync later.