What Are Cankles?

What is it?

Woman with Cankles
Woman with Cankles

I saw the word for the first time this week on none other than Facebook. Didn’t know such a term existed.  “Cankles” is a mix of the words “calf” and “ankles” used to describe legs in which the calf doesn’t taper down to the ankle.

If you don’t have a condition that causes swelling, cankles aren’t a health concern. It is not a medical term, nor is it a medical condition. Because they may feel so embarrassed about their swollen lower legs, women may refuse to wear skirts, and wouldn’t draw attention to the problem area by wearing strappy high heels.

What Causes Cankles?

The merging of the lower leg area can be attributed to several factors, including obesity, water retention or just bad luck in the gene pool. Some people complain their ankles balloon during pregnancy, due to oedema.

The most common cause, however, is weight gain. It could be that you’re genetically disposed to storing fat around your lower legs, or it could be that you have gained weight all over your body, making you conscious of your lower legs.

Leg with Cankle

Treating with Cankles

Explore Plastic Surgery
Explore Plastic Surgery

Some cosmetic surgeons offer liposuction treatments to tackle cankles. This procedure helps to thin and re-shape the ankle area and smooth out aesthetic flaws. Fatty deposits and excess skin can be removed to create a more defined and slimmer ankle. But paying a small fortune to go under the surgeon’s knife probably isn’t in most people’s beauty budget. But don’t despair; there are other ways to beat the bulge.

Either way, losing weight can drastically improve the appearance of cankles, and can even get rid of them all together. First up, grab your gym kit and try jumping jacks, skipping rope, walking up stairs or sprints. Any type of exercise that gets your feet moving can help to tone the muscles around the problem area, thus reducing the appearance of swollen ankles.


If you’re overweight, losing extra pounds may help, but you can’t target any particular area for weight loss. Many women dream of ditching their unsightly cankles and slipping into a sexy pair of stilettos; so you could also choose to:

-Accept your body as it is now.
-Wear pants if you’re self-conscious about your legs and ankles.
-Play up other parts of your body you like. You may feel rankled by your ankles, but maybe you love your hair. Show off an attribute you adore.
-Get help if you find yourself obsessing over them or any other part of your body.


Water retention is bad news for the lower leg and there’s an easy way to see if that is the problem. Press down on the ankle area with your fingers, and if this leaves a temporary dent, it could be down to this. The body holds onto water if you don’t have enough, so you can ease the issue by drinking at least one litre of water a day.Water retention can be triggered by:

-Excessive consumption of alcohol
-Too much salt in your diet
-Long periods of inactivity
-Hormone fluctuations (i.e. during the menstrual cycle)

So if you can relate to any of these causes, it’s likely that your cankles are because of water retention and, are therefore, very easy to treat. To prevent water retention, the best thing you can do is go swimming.

Now, before you quickly skip to the next tip with horrified thoughts of yourself in a swimsuit, think of the results! A thirty minute splash around in the deep end is enough for the water pressure to work its magic, and dissipate the fluid gathered around your ankles, as well as being a wonderful workout for the entire body. If however, you have skipped straight to this point (possibly shuddering slightly at the thought of the pool), you’re in luck! There are indeed other ways to reduce water retention:

-Try other forms of mild to moderate exercise i.e. cyclingDrink more water
-Avoid salty foods
-Drink plenty of water
-Another way to reduce the water retention is to simply put your feet up. This allows the fluid to drain from the ankles and be expelled by the body.

Whilst some people have lovely, long, slim legs, a lack of muscle in the lower leg can cause the appearance of cankles, despite the lack of fat. If you fall into this category, fear not. There are simple exercises (calf exercises)you can do to build and shape the calf muscle, thus giving you a more shapely lower leg. Go brave … whatever you decide to do.

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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