Cankles are a thicker area of the lower leg where the ankle and the calf come together. The word “cankle” is not a medical term, but rather a popular slang term that combines the words “calf” and “ankle.” People with cankles often say that they have fat ankles or thick ankles. Thick calves and ankles can be a genetic trait, but there are plenty of other problems that cause cankles, and most of them have a solution. If you’re unhappy with your ankles and calves, there are many ways to attack the problem, from dieting and exercise to rule out medical conditions. So how do you know if you have cankles? In a typical leg, the ankle area is thinner than the calf. But the legs of people with cankles are different. People with cankles have a calf and ankle area that is about the same size. There is almost no calf definition and the lower leg looks fatter than normal. You might have cankles because your parents had them. But there are different causes of cankles and some might indicate an abnormal medical issue.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), painless swelling in the ankle area may happen if you are overweight, pregnant, or experiencing normal hormonal fluctuations. You might also notice ankle swelling after sitting for a long time in a car or airplane. Certain medications may cause swelling in the ankle area and it may also happen after certain types of surgery. However, swelling, or edema, in the lower leg may also indicate a problem. The NIH warns that foot, leg, and ankle swelling may be caused by a blood clot, a leg infection or when veins cannot properly pump blood back to the heart. Swollen legs may be also a sign of heart failure, kidney failure, or liver failure.
If you’ve ruled out a medical problem, you may be wondering if it is even possible to get rid of cankles. There are a few things that might help to reduce the fatty appearance in your lower legs so you can show off toned legs with great definition.
Some doctors can help you get rid of cankles if the area is enlarged because of fat rather than swelling. The most drastic way to get rid of cankles is to get liposuction or liposculpture in the ankle, this can help add definition to the area so the calf muscle is more noticeable and the ankle area looks slimmer. But these medical treatments can be expensive and like all medical procedures, they carry some risk.
Get an activity tracker or pedometer and boost your step count. Walking is a great exercise for everyone but it is especially good for people with cankles. Walking improves circulation in the legs and helps to build up the calf muscles. When the calves are bigger and tighter, the ankles look smaller.
Eat More Vegetables
At mealtime, cut your meat portion in half and double the number of veggies on your plate. Why? First, you’ll cut the calories in your meal when you fill up on low-calorie roughage. And you’ll probably also reduce your salt intake when you cut the amount of meat that you eat. Lastly, the fiber in the vegetables will help you to feel full longer so that you eat less in the hours after the meal.
Reduce Foods With Saturated Fat
High-fat foods are also foods that are high in calories. Fat provides 9 calories per gram. Carbohydrates and protein only provide 4 calories per gram. So if you limit the amount of cheese, butter, and fatty meats in your diet, you’ll cut calories and slim down. In addition, many foods that are high in saturated fat are also high in sodium. Fried foods are a good example. When you reduce the amount of salt and fat in your diet, you may notice that your cankles look better in just a matter of weeks.
Try Toning Shoes
When you’re wondering how to get rid of cankles, toning shoes can also help. There are plenty of footwear companies that promise their shoes will tone your legs and butt while you walk, but the feedback has been mixed. Some of the most popular options for toning shoes include Reebok EasyTone, Skechers Shape-Ups, and Earth Exer-Walk.
In a standing position, lift your heels off the ground so that you are standing on the balls of your feet. Hold on to a chair or countertop for balance if necessary. Do 7-10 repetitions. As your fitness level increases, try to do this exercise without holding on for support.
You can do a complete barre workout at home to shape sexier legs, or you can do a few plies throughout the day. To do a plie start in a standing position. Place your heels together and rotate your toes out to each side. When you look down at your feet they should resemble a V shape. Bend your knees slightly, then return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 times. (Hint: engage your core and do this exercise without holding on to a chair or counter for support. You’ll work out the abdominal area, too.)
Staircase Toe Raises
Stand on a stair and let your heels hang off the edge. Hold on to the banister for support. Now lift and lower the heels. Repeat the exercise 7-10 times.
More Intense Exercise
If you are healthy enough for vigorous exercise, do more intense cardiovascular workouts to help shape the lower legs. Activities that engage the calf muscles will provide the greatest benefit. Jumping rope, climbing stairs, and jogging work well. Plyometric movements that involve jumping will also help you to reduce cankles. Squat jumps, lunge jumps, and box jumps are good examples.