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5 Effective Exercises to Get Rid of Cankles


What are Cankles?

You may have noticed a swelling around your ankle and are looking for the meaning of cankles and how to get rid of cankles.

So, basically, cankles are not a medical term. In fact, it is derived from the words “ankle” and “calf”. 

A person is said to have cankles when his or her calf appears to stretch down to the ankle, causing it to swell. With cankles, you will find it difficult to differentiate between calf or ankle, or it will appear like missing ankles due to the accumulation of excess fat.

What Causes Cankles?

Cankles can be caused by a number of things, like being overweight, water retention, being pregnant, having a family history of them, having poor blood circulation, eating poorly, taking bad medicines, having heart or kidney disease, liver disease, lifestyle factors, having an imbalance of hormones, and so on.

Let us discuss some of the most common causes of cankles in detail:

1. Pregnancy 

Most expectant mothers suffer from cankles, which is very common during pregnancy. 

During pregnancy, your body produces approximately 50% more blood and other fluids. The extra fluids help your joints and tissues prepare for child birth and also expand your body.

Your blood circulation gets low during pregnancy, making it difficult for the extra fluid to flow through, which causes swelling in the ankles, which we call “cankles.” The swelling worsens as your pregnancy advances, especially when you sit and stand for a very long time.

2. Genetics

Some people have cankles genetically inherited from their family members. If your parents have thick ankles, you have a chance that you will also get the thick muscles in your ankles. This might be due to obesity or genetic distribution of fat in the lower leg. Even if you are slim or physically fit, you can develop genetic cankles.

3. Medication

If you have gone through certain types of surgery or are on some medications like blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, hormone drugs or birth control pills , non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and diabetes medications, then it is more likely to cause swollen ankles. 

Changes in medication may affect the body’s fluid retention and may cause swelling between your calf and ankles, resulting in cankles.

If it is due to a medication change, then it is advised to consult your doctor to make the necessary medication changes to make the swelling go away.

4. Poor Nutrition

Whenever we talk about nutrition we always focuses on food either to lose weight and eating low glycemic food to control diabetes. Do we ever realise that eating certain foods can also agreevates the ankle swelling or cause cankles?

Yes, you heard right, the food high in sodium sote more water in our body and may cause ankle swelling or cankles.

5. Venous insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition in which the walls and/or valves of the veins in the legs are not working or valves get damaged. This makes it difficult for blood to flow back to the heart from the legs, and it leaks backward. 

CVI causes swelling in the lower legs and ankles, especially when you are standing for a long time. 

Approximately 40% of people in the United States are suffering from CVI. It occurs in people above 50 years of age and is more common in women than in men.

Are Cankles Dangerous?

As we already discussed, cankles can be caused for a number of reasons. In some cases, we have seen that the reasons are not so worrying and they go away on their own, as in the case of pregnancy, or you can reduce cankles by following some exercise regime, losing weight, or following a proper diet.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the painless sweeling in your lower leg may occur due to pregnancy, obesity, or normal hormonal variation. You may also experience swollen ankles if you are sitting in a car or aeroplane for a very long time. We also see that it may also be caused by certain medications and certain types of surgery.

The question now is, how serious is cankles? Or when you should seek medical attention?

As we discussed, swollen legs may also occur due to leg infections, blood clots, and chronic venous insufficiency. Ankle swelling may also be a sign of heart failure, liver failure, or kidney failure.

If you are concerned about ankle swelling that could be for any of these reasons, you must seek immediate medical attention and talk to your doctor.

How to Get Rid of Cankles?

Most people who suffer from cankles, hide their legs due to the hesitation of their calf-ankles, especially ladies, who cannot wear their gladiator-style sandals or cropped leggings. 

They also believe that there is no possible way to get rid of cankles.

If the question pops into your mind, can you get rid of cankles? Here, you have the simple answer. Yes, you can reduce your cankles with the right exercise regime, good diet, and medical treatment.

So, let us discuss each of the way to get rid of Cankles:

5 Exercise to Reduce Cankles

Regular exercise can help you to reduce fat around your calf muscles.

1. Weighted calf Cankles


  • Stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand and keep your shoulders back.
  • Press down with your body and shift the weight onto the balls of your feet.
  • Now raise the heels off the ground and slowly bring them down to the starting position.

Sets and Reps: Do it 3 times with 15 reps with a rest of 30 seconds between each set.

2. Seated Calf Raise


  • Sit on a chair or flat bench and hold a dumbbell on top of your thigh just above the knee.
  • Raise your heels off the ground as high as possible with your feet touching the floor and hold for a  moment.
  • Now bring your heels back to the starting position.

Sets and Reps: Start with 3 sets of 10-12 reps and repeat as many as you get stronger.

3. Stair Calf Raise


  • Stand up straight in front of the stairs.
  •  Put the top of your right foot on the edge of the first step and pull yourself up.
  • When you stand up, put your weight on your right toes by standing on your toes.
  •  Step forward with your left leg and put the top of it on the next step. Repeat this step.

Sets and Reps: Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.

4. Bent-Knee Calf Raises


  • Stand with your feet wider than your shoulders and your toes pointing forward.

  • Bend your knees just a little bit to get into a half-squat position.

  • Then, slowly raise your heels as high as you can while pressing the balls of your feet into the floor. Stop at the top, and then slowly lower your heels back down.

  • Knees should remain bent throughout the workout.

Sets and Reps: Perform 3 sets of 20 reps each.

5. Jump Rope

Do jump rope for at least one minute to complete one set. You can then take a break for 30–60 seconds and repeat for 5 sets. Make sure you jump on your feet on the floor rather than your heels.

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How to Reduce Cankles with Good Diet?

Sometimes you might suffer from cankle swelling due to a diet-related issue. When you eat too much sodium in your diet, your body retains more water and the swelling appears more around your ankle. Avoid eating too salty or highly processed foods to reduce sodium intake. When you eat starchy and sugary foods, your body retains water as well. As a result, you should consume these foods in moderation.

To get rid of cankles caused due to water retention, you should focus more on eating protein, healthy fats, and nutrient-rich carbs.

What can I do make my fat legs look thinner?

When you are working on getting rid of cankles either through exercise or following the right diet, there are ways to disguise their appearance while they are being eliminated permanently.

Here are some of the dressing style you can choose to make your fat legs look thinner:-

  • Avoid Cropped Pants.
  • Wear Palazzo Pants
  • Wear High Rise Pants.
  • Avoid ankle straps
  • Wear tall boots
  • Embrace Flowy Skirts.
  • Emphasize the top half of your body


Cankles is the straightening of the calf to the ankle due to swelling. It could be for so many reasons that we have discussed, but it is more important that you should know why you have cankles.

It may occasionally indicate a serious health problem that necessitates immediate medical attention. Once you know the reason, then you can work on the root causes to get rid of cankles. Exercising, a healthy diet, and other lifestyle changes can help you get over it.