It’s a problem which is swept under the rug for most of the year, with the cold winter months, chilly spring and fall months allowing you to cover them up and forget all about them. But as summer approaches, you start to sweat, and that’s not just because of the heat.
Cankles, an unfortunate shortening of the two words “calf” and “ankles,” sums up the situation rather succinctly. Simply put, “cankles” are fat ankles, occurring when your body accumulates too much weight in that area and makes for a difficult time working out where your legs end and your feet start.
While not exactly life threatening, cankles can put a real damper on your enjoyment of those long summer days. Sure, you can hide them behind a pair of pants and long boots during the colder months, but when things start warming up and you dust off your shorts and flip flops, you’re forced to face the truth: your ankles have made a run for it.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. While even the slimmest of women may struggle with cankles, there’s plenty you can do to rid yourself of them and wear those flip flops like a pro. Here are a few tips to help you do just that!
1. Watch your weight
It may seem like an obvious one, but if you’re having trouble with your weight elsewhere, chances are good that some of that weight will also accumulate around your ankles. Getting your general weight under control will help your body to more evenly distribute your fat stores, and can often help to bring those cankles to heel (pun intended!).
There’s a number of ways to do this, and the more things you do the more likely you are to shed the pounds and keep it that way. Firstly, work on cleaning up your diet. Ditch the grains, particularly wheat and gluten-rich cereals (like barley and rye), and keep your consumption of other grains like oats or corn to a minimum. Avoid refined sugars, especially those from pre-packaged foods, which are often also loaded with artificial compounds and hydrogenated oils. Get plenty of vegetables and fruit, and ensure you’re eating a wide range of fresh, whole foods.
Next, make sure you exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day, and introduce some high-intensity training (HIIT) or weight-bearing exercises at least twice a week to build muscle and knock out the fat. In addition to this, make a point of moving as much as possible throughout the day. Doing so will ensure that your metabolism is kept constantly humming along and your blood continues to flow unimpeded.
2. Keep up with the fluids
According to some experts, cankle formation can often result from fluid retention. This can occur due to high sodium intake, forcing the body to retain what water it does have and bloat up in certain areas as a result. It can also result from pregnancy, which can impede blood circulation and encourage it to accumulate around the ankles.
So, how do you keep those fluids where they belong? For starters, steer well clear of sodium-rich foods, particularly processed snack foods and fast foods. Next, feed your body plenty of fluids throughout the day, getting plenty of water and avoiding sodas and soft drinks like the plague. Finally, if you’re pregnant, consider talking to your doctor about fluid retention and how to safely work your way around the issue.
3. Look to your medications
Certain medications, including antidepressants, blood pressure meds, and prescription drugs which affect hormone production (including birth control pills) can all run riot with a lady’s ankles. The only real way to tell if your meds are sending unwanted bulk to your ankles is to think back to when you first began taking those medications. Did the cankles begin around that time? If so, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you can switch to a similar medication without the unwanted side effects. Better still, clean up your diet and your lifestyle, and you probably won’t need to take meds at all!
4. Do some calf raises
There’s plenty of muscle-specific exercises you can do to work directly on those pesky chunky ankles. One of the best exercises for this is calf raises. To do these, stand approximately a foot away from a wall, position your feet directly below your hips, and place one of your palms on the wall. Keeping your legs straight, slowly lift yourself up on the balls of your feet, hold for a second, then slowly lower back to the floor and repeat.
While cankles are an annoyance, remember that they’re not the end of the world. You look great no matter what, so if you don’t manage to get rid of them, don’t let it get your down!
— Liivi Hess