How to Get Rid of Cankles: The 5 Best Calf Exercises
If you don’t know where your calves end and your ankles begin, you might be dealing with a case of cankles. Here’s your guide to what causes them along with a list of the best calf exercises to help you get rid of cankles.
What are Cankles?
You may have heard the term but you’re not quite sure what it means. It’s actually a slang term that combines the words “calves” and “ankles” to form the slang word “cankles.” Cankles are a blending of the line between your calves and your ankles, and this can be due to a variety of reasons. The delineation is not apparent, causing a lack of tone and a thickness in through the ankles and lower calf regions.
What Causes Cankles?
The causes of cankles are not as straightforward as one might think. But here are a few things that can contribute to the condition:
1. Excess Bodyweight—if you are overweight, this can lead to the development of cankles. Because your body puts on extra fat all over your body, eventually, you will also gain body fat around your calves and ankles. And gravity doesn’t do us any favors here either, since its mission is to pull everything downward, and that includes excess body fat.
2. Lipedema—this is when your body disproportionately deposits excess fat mostly around the lower body and especially around the legs and calves, causing pain, swelling, bruising, and larger than normal calves and ankles. This can be hereditary.
3. Injury—when you injure your ankle and/or calf, your body will try to protect and heal itself by surrounding the affected area with fluid. This could be blood or simply swelling, but both can cause a noticeable difference in the appearance of your ankles.
4. Lymphedema—this situation occurs when your lymph system does not properly drain water and toxins from the body. This, in turn, can cause you to have swelling in the legs and ankles.
5. Water retention—along the same lines as lymphedema, being bloated can definitely create cankles (at least temporarily). Once the bloating subsides, the ankles and calves typically return to normal as well.
6. Medications—sometimes medications can cause fluid retention contributing to the look of cankles.
7. Varicose veins—these can be part of a circulation problem that causes fluids to pool in the lower extremities.
8. Genetics—your bone structure and genetics can play a role in the shape and structure of your ankles and calves. It’s not always body weight or medical issue. Some people may naturally have larger bones and joints while others may have calf muscles that attach differently than others.
How to Get Rid of Cankles
Adding some resistance training and toning exercises to the mix might be exactly what you need to get rid of cankles.
1. Walk the Stairs
Doing repetitive exercises that tax the calves is a great way to gently tone up the area. Taking the stairs whenever possible or using a stairclimbing machine at the gym can help you add some tone and whittle away the body fat in the lower calves and ankles.
Any type of jumping movement will also help to add shape and tone to your calves. Try jumping rope, jumping jacks, or other movements that involve the calves like mountain climbers.
3. Squats with Heel Raises
Doing these with or without weight will help build your calves as well. Simply do any type of squat (body weight, narrow leg, plie squat, etc.), and once you are fully in the squat position, lift your heels off the ground. Hold this position for a count of three, and resume the squatting motion.
Yes, simple walking is still one of nature’s most effective exercises to get rid of cankles. Walking on a consistent basis will help you lose weight and get toned calves and ankles, but it will also give you nicely toned legs, a stronger core, and a healthy cardiovascular system as well.
5. Calf Raises
These can be done either with both legs simultaneously or one leg at a time. Stand next to a stable surface and brace yourself with one arm for balance. Keeping your legs straight, lift yourself up onto your tip toes and hold for a moment. Slowly return to the starting position.
You can also do these on the edge of a stair provided you hold onto the railing for balance. This will allow you to dip deeper (off the edge of the stair) and get a fuller stretch through the calf muscle.
For all your calf raises, you can also do these holding a weight in one hand (or both, depending on your balancing abilities). Start with something light (like five pounds) and work your way up to heavier weight over time. Do 15 reps at a time and then do 3 – 5 sets of each exercise.
Lastly, try using any of the various calf machines at your local fitness facility. Adding some weight (resistance) to this exercise will help tone your calves and ankles faster and will give you better results.
Weight loss, better circulation, monitoring your medications, and fluid intake can go a long way toward helping you reduce the look of cankles. And to round out your cankle-cancelling program, don’t forget to do plenty of toning exercises for the area as well for optimal results.