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Cankles: Why You Have Cankles?

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Cankles is a word that describes the ankle and calf. Cankles define the abnormalities in the appearance of ankle and calf muscles. In cankles, a women’s ankle gets inflamed and does not merge appropriately with the calf. It is maybe because of a genetically large ankle or inflamed ankle. It is common for people to have large ankles by birth. Cankle is neither a medical condition nor a medical term. If you are standing for a long time, it is not a case of cankle. The swelling can go away without any medical assistance.

Many men and women complain about the unnatural appearance of their lower leg, which can be a sign of significant health disease. A cankle can occur as a result of fluid retention in the foot. Also, extra fat accumulation in the body can mimic the cankle leg. Nevertheless, if the ankle is swelling over a few days, you need to take medical advice from a doctor.

Causes of Cankles

There are many causes of developing cankle leg, directly or indirectly. Some of the primary causes are as given below:

  1. Pregnancy: Cankles can develop in pregnant ladies during pregnancy. It happens because of weight gain due to hormonal changes during pregnancy. If pregnancy is not the case, there might be other active reasons. Cankle usually goes away on its own once the baby is delivered, and there is no need for medical assistance.
  2. Unhealthy Diet: Poor diet or inappropriate eating habits can lead to cankles. Because of low nutrition, the lower legs receive inadequate nutrients required for the proper functioning of the cells.
  3. Genetics: Genetic plays an important role when determining the cause of cankles. It is important because some people have large ankles than others. If the person has a family history of large legs or related conditions, discuss it with the healthcare specialist.
  4. High Sodium Intake: Excessive sodium intake worsens the condition by fluid retention in the body parts. The body parts such as the face, hands, and feet/ankles are areas where more fluid retention occurs. Therefore, the person should consider a healthy diet with less sodium intake to improve fluid retention in cankles.
  5. Medical History: Diseases of the liver, kidneys, or cardiovascular system are also leading development causes. For example, in cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure, the heart cannot pump blood efficiently, causing the weakening of blood vessels in the legs. In Liver cirrhosis, blood albumin levels start to decrease, resulting in fluid leakage from blood vessels, which give rise to fluid retention in the arms, face, and feet. While in kidney disease, toxins accumulate in the blood vessels, causing fluid retention in the body. In addition, the disease named rheumatoid arthritis in the ankles can be a cause of cankles.
  6. Lipoedema: Excess body fat can result in cankles due to lipoedema (enlarged legs and arms due to fat build-up). Cankle(s) could be a sign of Increased body weight, causing increased fat accumulation in the cells of the ankles. Lipoedema can be controlled by making changes to lifestyle and appropriate eating habits.
  7. Abnormal Circulation System: The swelling in the ankles may arise due to an impaired circulatory system, maybe because of ongoing serious infections (such as lymphedema, deep vein thrombosis) in the body. The person should consider exercise or light physical activity to improve circulation within the body. Exercise will improve the circulatory system and the overall health of the person. Besides, the winter season can cause poor circulation; this is why exercise in the winter season is favorable for cankle. If the condition persists or worsens, contact your doctor regarding your health concerns.
  8. Use of Certain Medications: Some known medications cause cankles. Some categories of such medications are:
  • Calcium Channel Blockers (Amlodipine) to treat hypertension
  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Testosterone
  • Estrogen based Oral Contraceptive
  • Antidiabetic agents
  • Hormonal replacement treatment
  • Steroidal drugs

Treatment of Cankle

Cankle(s) is a treatable condition. However, consider additional procedures (liposuction) in complicated cases. Here are some excellent options to consider against cankles and have been discussed below:

  1. Balanced Diet: Cankles can be improved with the help of proper nutrition. High nutrition can provide the cells with enough energy to recover from the state. Poor nutrition can lead to unhealthy weight gain and accumulation of fat in ankle tissues.
  2. Exercise Your Lower Legs: Exercising your lower legs can improve blood circulation to the lower legs and reduce fluid retention. Some exercises such as walking, jogging, and cycling force your legs’ muscle to contract, improving circulation to your lower legs. Also, stretch your ankle for better blood flow to the required site.
  3. Lose Weight: Losing weight is another preferable approach to treat cankle leg(s). Reducing the number of calories per day will help you manage your weight. Green leafy vegetables and salads are good choices for losing weight. In addition, appropriate hydration can help to curb your appetite.
  4. Reducing Sodium Intake: High sodium intake can lead to fluid retention in the body, puffiness, and causes a swelling known as edema. Somebody parts (face, hands, feet) are more prone to edema than others. Therefore, it is good to cut down your sodium intake to prevent or treat fluid retention. The person should follow doctor recommended DASH diet. Mainly, canned foods contain high amounts of sodium, so avoid them.
  5. Consider Taking Anticoagulants: Atherosclerosis can cause edema around the ankle because of narrowing or blockage of the small arteries that supply the blood to the lower legs. It leads to improper transport of essential nutrients to the ankle, resulting in blood clots, plaque formation in arteries, or damage to the tissues. Taking prescription-based anticoagulants (Warfarin, Aspirin) can help to improve these conditions.
  6. Liposuction: Losing weight is not an easy task. Some people may find it tough to remove extra fat from the ankles. These people should consult with a doctor or certified cosmetic surgery specialist to consider liposuction to reduce fat accumulation. However, surgery is not the first choice because of its invasive nature. The patient can take a longer time to heal after surgery. If you opt for surgery, consider the risks associated with liposuction surgery, such as allergic reactions, blood loss, infections, etc.

Exercises to Effectively Reduce Cankles

Some proven exercises can effectively reduce cankles. Some activities such as weighted calf lifting, seated calf lifting, lunge calf raise, etc., can help improve the condition.

  1. Weighted Calf Lifting: Lift your calf with the help of weights like dumbbells, kettles, or any suitable equipment for performing this exercise—this exercise targets superficial and deep calf muscle. Adjust the weight as per your need and perform four sets of 10 repetitions for visible results.
  2. Lunge Calf Raises: This exercise targets your hip girdles and calf muscle while performing the full range of motion of lunge calf raises. This exercise provides flexibility, mobility, and strength to your hip and calf muscle.
  3. Jumping Rope: Jumping rope exercises your superficial calf muscles and the deep calf muscle. The principle of targeting muscle is the same as that of weighted calf lifting. Perform at least three sets of jumping rope for 60 seconds each and adjust the sets if you feel to do so.
  4. Jogging or Cycling: These exercises are good options for improving blood circulation to the ankles and reducing swelling. Do consider jogging or cycling regularly when you are comfortable with the timing.
  5. Swimming: Swimming is an ideal option if your cankles are because of obesity. Obesity worsens the cankles, and it also affects the individual’s overall well-being. You can start with swimming because it does not put pressure on your ankles, making your condition worse. Remember, start with weight exercise regimens under the supervision of your doctor.

Conclusively, different reasons lead to cankles. There are many measures and treatment options that you can choose best for you based on your condition. Some proven exercises can help you get rid of this disease, as discussed in this article. Nevertheless, surgery can be performed in complicated cases for the best results. Speak to your medical consultant, doctor, or therapist if you are experiencing something serious.


WebMD: “Cankles Quick Facts”

WSJ: “Fat Ankles”

Mayo Clinic: “Swelling During Pregnancy”

The Wall Street Journal: “Cankles”

Aesthetic Surgery Journal: “Intermediate Liposuction”

Medical News Today: “Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Ankles”


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