While six-pack abs, toned arms, and a firm butt might be at the top of most people’s fitness wish lists, almost as many people want to know how to get rid of cankles. That’s quite surprising given that cankles aren’t a medical condition, and the word itself is really just slang!
Cankles can affect almost anyone, even people who are otherwise quite slim. However, they’re more common in people who are overweight. But, unlike many other “problem areas,” there are no special machines or workouts you can use to whittle away fat from your lower legs.
The good news is that there are plenty of things you CAN do to rid yourself of those unsightly cankles and increase ankle and calf definition and separation.
Put the following into action and learn how to get rid of swollen ankles fast. Using a combination of diet and exercise, you should soon see a significant improvement in the shape of your calves and ankles.
What Are Cankles & What Causes Them?
Typically, your calves should be bigger than your ankles, and there should be an obvious separation between your calf muscles and your ankle bones. However, if you’ve got cankles, your ankles and calves are roughly the same sizes, and there is no clear definition between them.
There are several reasons you may develop cankles, including:
Fluid retention – long periods of inactivity, such as during a flight or because of an office job, can cause your ankles to swell. This is called edema. In addition to sedentarism, edema can be caused by consuming too much sodium, which is another word for salt.
Easy ways to reduce water retention include:
- Drinking more water
- Using natural diuretics
- Cutting down on salt
- Wearing compression socks
- Moving more and sitting less
Medications – some medicines increase water retention and can contribute to the formation of cankles. Medication for the treatment of high blood pressure, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and corticosteroids can all increase water retention.
Speak to your doctor if your ankles start to lose their definition after taking a new medication or if you suspect that your cankles are the result of any prescription meds you are taking. They may be able to give you advice on how to manage water retention and prevent cankles.
Genetics – your cankles could be the result of having slender calves. This is often genetic. That said, there are plenty of exercises you can do to increase the size of your calf muscles, giving your lower legs a more pleasing shape.
Body fat – we have no control over where our bodies store fat. For some of us, fat will accumulate around our stomachs, while for others, it’ll be the face or the arms and upper back. If you are overweight, you may find that you store fat around your lower legs. Losing weight can help you get rid of your cankles.
Illness – there are a couple of illnesses that can cause cankles. If you notice that your ankles have swollen up, and there is no obvious cause, you need to speak to your doctor, just in case there is an underlying medical reason. Possible causes of cankles include liver disease, kidney disease, conditions affecting the lymphatic system, and heart disease.
How To Get Rid Of Cankles
There are several ways to reduce or even eliminate cankles. You won’t get rid of them overnight, but the sooner you start, the faster you’ll improve your ankle and calf definition.
- Weight loss – weight loss invariably means eating less and exercising more. This creates a calorie deficit that forces your body to burn fat for fuel. You’ll lose fat from all over your body, but some of it will come from your lower legs. Almost any low-calorie diet and exercise program can help, so choose a diet and workout plan you enjoy. Consistency and long-term commitment are better than unpleasant regimens you cannot stick to. Whatever diet you choose, make sure it includes plenty of healthy, natural foods, low salt, and not so strict that it is impossible to maintain for more than a few days.
- Exercise – exercise burns calories and fat and increases circulation. Both of these factors can help you lose your cankles. Walking can be very beneficial, as it’s something you can do every day. However, almost any form of exercise can help. You’ll find a few cankle-specific exercises later in this article, but it should be stressed that these exercises are much more effective when combined with an otherwise active lifestyle.
- Medical treatments – if you’ve tried these to lose your cankles but have not been successful, you may want to consider surgery. Cankle removal is a form of liposuction. The excess fat is suctioned out of your ankles and lower calves using a needle called a cannula and a special medical vacuum. Needless to say, this is done under anesthetic and, as a form of elective surgery, it not without risks. This should be considered a last resort.
While there aren’t any exercises that can help reduce the fat deposits around your ankles, there are exercises that will increase calf muscle tone and size, enhancing the appearance of your lower legs.
Do the following exercises 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days, e.g., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Combine these exercises with a general workout routine that includes plenty of aerobic exercise, e.g., walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or group exercise classes.
Standing calf raises – needing nothing other than a step to stand on, you can do this exercise at home, at work, and almost anywhere else.
To do it, stand on a stable step, so the balls of your feet are right at the edge. Hold onto something nearby for balance.
Lower your heels down below the level of your toes and then rise up onto your tiptoes.
Lower your heels back down and repeat. Do two to four sets of as many reps as you comfortably can. Too easy? Try using just one leg at a time.
Seated calf raises – this exercise works your lower calves. Because it’s done seated, you can do this exercise while you’re sat at your desk, on a bus, or even at home while you’re watching TV.
Sit with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your shins should be vertical.
Rise up onto the balls of your feet and then lower your heels back down to the floor.
Make this exercise harder by resting something heavy on your knees or placing the balls of your feet on the edge of a step.
Ankle hops – for this exercise, just jump up and down on the spot using your ankles more than your knees.
Don’t try and keep your legs completely straight, but make sure that most of your lift comes from your calves and ankles.
Imagine you are jumping rope but, with no rope needed, you can do this exercise anywhere and anytime.
Weight Loss Tips
The most common cause of cankles is weight gain. Fat stored around your ankles can blur the definition between your calves and your feet. While following a strict, low-calorie diet can help you lose weight, a lot of the time, you can just modify what you currently eat to lose weight without stress or inconvenience.
Good ways to lose weight without following a specific diet include:
- Cut down on sugar
- Eat less bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes, and more non-starchy vegetables
- Eat less fat
- Replace regular soda with diet soda, water, and unsweetened beverages
- Eat smaller meals on smaller plates
- Skip one meal a day
- Stop snacking between meals
- Drink a pint of water before meals
- Replace candy with fruit
- Say no to dessert
- No more second servings
- Stop eating after 6 pm
- Eat more slowly and mindfully to feel fuller sooner
- Eat more protein and less carbohydrate
- Cut out alcohol
- Make your own meals and cut out restaurant meals and takeouts.
- Walk 20 minutes three times per day after breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Walk any journey less than one mile
- Get more sleep
- Avoid stress
- Try a fat burner
Don’t try to implement all these tips at once. Instead, pick the five easiest ones and, once you’ve mastered them, add another five. That way, after a few weeks, you’ll be doing them all, but it won’t have been such a shock.
Losing weight is seldom easy, but it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant chore. In fact, you don’t even have to go on a diet or exercise like a fitness fanatic; in a lot of cases, just eating more healthily and staying active are all you need to do.
That said, if you have cankles, you may want to take more decisive action to lose fat from your lower legs and restore your lost calf and ankle definition. Cutting down on sodium, eating fewer processed foods, and drinking more water will help, as will exercising and being active most days of the week.
If you are forced to sit for long periods, try elevating your feet or simply getting up and moving for a few minutes every hour or so. This won’t do much for fat loss but could help reduce fluid retention.
Finally, if you have cankles and need a fast-acting but temporary solution, try rubbing hemorrhoid cream on the lower calves and ankles. This will firm up and tighten your skin, but the effects only last for a few hours.
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