How To Get Rid Of Cankles – Diet & 7 Best Exercises

Easy-to-follow tips that can help improve the appearance of your cankles.

Reviewed by Gaelle Clement, Natural Health Practitioner Gaelle Clement Gaelle ClementNatural Health Practitioner
Written by , MSc Shaheen Naser MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Himanshi Mahajan BSc (Life Sciences), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
Last Updated on
✔ Evidence Based

StyleCraze believes in credibility and giving our readers access to authentic and evidence-based content. Our stringent editorial guidelines allow us to only cite from reputed research institutions, academic journals, and medically established studies. If you discover any discrepancy in our content, you may contact us.

The portion of the leg where the ankle joins the calf without any distinguishing contour of the ankle is referred to as “cankles”. You may wish to get rid of cankles if you feel conscious about them while wearing short dresses, ankle-length trousers, or open shoes.

Cankles is not a medical term. After John Alexander’s character in Shallow Hal used the phrase “cankles,” it became popular. This was a word he used to describe a woman’s lower legs which looked swollen and merged.

It could be related to a huge ankle that you were born with or ankle edemai  Swelling that occurs as a result of too much fluid in the tissues, which is frequently brought on by heart failure or a vein blockage in the leg. . It is quite common to be born with large ankles, and in certain cases, the problem may be genetic. It is not a symptom of illness.

This article discusses some excellent exercises and additional tips to tone up your muscles and hence reduce the appearance of cankles. So, keep reading.

protip_icon Workout Blueprint: Exercises To Get Rid Of Cankles
  • Frequency: 2-3 times per week
  • Benefits: Improve balance and stability and relieve swollen ankles.
  • Equipment Needed: Exercise mat, dumbbell, sturdy chair, jumping rope.
  • Space Required: Small area
  • Assistance Required: No
  • Who Should Avoid: Anyone with an ankle, leg, or lower body injury.

What Are Cankles?

The term “cankles” has surfaced from two words – “calf ” and “ankles.” Cankles is the term used to denote the fat and/or swollen ankles that merge unattractively with the flesh of the calves.

A 23-year-old college student and blogger underwent ankle liposuction to address her lifelong struggle with cankles. She shared her journey in her blog, emphasizing, “I was born with cankles and large calves, even at lower weights My weight has changed +/- 20 lbs even though my lower legs had been a little bit thinner at lower weights, I always had cankles (i).” After the procedure, she noticed enhanced leg definition, though her ankles remained large due to bone structure. Despite this, she found the change worthwhile and gained the confidence to wear skirts, overcoming the initial discomfort and recovery period.

Cankles usually look short and are thick. The following are some of the possible causes of this development.

What Causes Cankles?

Cankles are believed to be caused by three major factors. They are:

  • Genetics: Most women who have cankles usually have a close family member with the same problem. If any of your parents have thick or overly sized ankles, you may develop the condition too.
  • Fluid Retention: Lifestyle choices like heavy intake of sodium can cause fluid retention in your body. This may lead to the development of cankles.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy is another common factor that can cause cankles. This is usually due to reduced or poor circulation in the lower extremities of a pregnant woman.

In addition to these causes, a sedentary lifestyle or accumulated fat can also contribute to worsening the appearance of cankles. Therefore, you must try the following exercises to tone your muscles.

There are various steps you can adopt to reduce cankles and relieve swollen ankles. Start by cutting back on saturated fat and sodium intake because it can lead to fluid retention. Incorporating more vegetables in your diet will provide all essential nutrients and antioxidants that enhance overall wellbeing. In addition to this diet, regular walking and calf workouts like calf raises can strengthen the muscles around your ankles.

How To Get Rid Of Cankles – Exercises

  1. Calf Raises
  2. Plie Squats
  3. Standing Toe Raises
  4. Seated Calf Raises
  5. Lunge Calf Raise
  6. Jumping Rope
  7. Rowing Machine Exercise

Exercises To Get Rid Of Cankles

1. Calf Raises

Calf raises to get rid of cankles
Image: Shutterstock
How To Do
  1. Start by standing on the edge of a step or a step-aerobics platform.
  2. Stand erect with your abdomen pulled in, and the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step while your heels hang in the air.
  3. Allow your hands to rest against a wall or any sturdy object for support.
  4. Raise your heels a little and stand on your toes.
  5. Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower your heels.




2. Plie Squats

Pile squats to get rid of cankles
Image: Shutterstock
How To Do
  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Rest your arms at the side and point your toes out, making an angle.Your knees and toes should point in the same direction.
  3. Squat down in this position until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  4. While lowering your body, raise your arms above your head.
  5. Pause and return to your initial position.




3. Standing Toe Raises

Standing toe raises to get rid of cankles
Image: Shutterstock
How To Do
  1. Stand by keeping your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Raise the balls of your feet until you feel the stretch from the balls of your feet to the butt.
  3. Go back to your initial position and repeat.




4. Seated Calf Raises

Seated calf raises to get rid of cankles
Image: YouTube @Evilcyber
How To Do
  1. Sit on a sturdy chair that supports you well and is comfortable.
  2. Keep a phonebook or any other rectangular object 12 to 14 inches in front of the chair.
  3. This is so that your heels don’t make contact with the floor when you lower them.
  4. Keep your feet flat and hip-width apart.
  5. Place the balls of your feet on the phone book/rectangular object.
  6. Place the dumbbell two inches above your knee cap.
  7. Press down and lift your heels. Hold for a few seconds.
  8. Go back to the initial position.




protip_icon Quick Tip
If you want to make your cankle exercises more challenging, use heavier weights or increase your reps per set.

5. Lunge Calf Raise

How To Do
  1. Put one of your legs forward and bend it without leaning forward.
  2. Run the other leg backward and stretch it a bit into a calf raise.
  3. Pause briefly and go back to the standing position.
  4. Repeat with the other leg.




Back To TOC

6. Jumping Rope

Jumping rope to get rid of cankles
Image: Shutterstock
How To Do
  1. Get hold of a jumping rope and size it according to your height, i.e., the handles of the jumping rope should come up to your armpits.
  2. Grip the handles loosely with your fingers for greater speed.
  3. Hold the rope together in front of you and then take it behind.
  4. Turn the rope over your head and catch it under your toes before you skip over it.
  5. Practice timing and correct movement as you keep making jumps.

5-10 minutes

7. Rowing Machine Exercise

Woman working out on a rowing machine
How To Do

1. Sit on the seat of the rowing machine and hold the overhand grip.
2. Keep your arms fully extended, knees bent, and weight balanced on the balls of your feet.
3. Maintain proper posture with a straight back, engaged core, and the balls of your feet securely placed in the straps.
4. Push back using your legs until they are flat when your legs are fully extended.
5. Pull the grip towards your chest, allowing your elbows to bend outward and touching the grip just below your chest.
6. Utilize your upper back muscles as well while pulling the grip towards your chest.
7. Straighten your arms once more and bend your knees to glide back to the initial starting position smoothly.


3 to 5 minutes

To make these exercises even more effective, you can follow the below tips and lifestyle changes that can help reduce the swelling in your ankles.

Simple Tips To Reduce Ankle Swelling

  1. Wear compression garments like socks through the day, but do not wear them to bed.
  2. Soak your feet in an Epsom salt bath every other day.
  3. Go swimming regularly.
  4. Practice yoga poses that require stretching.
  5. Keep a check on your weight.
  6. Add calf workouts and leg toning exercises to help with ankle slimming.
  7. Foot and ankle strengthening exercises, such as heel raises and toe curls, can increase lower leg circulation and help with edema reduction.
  8. Try a foot massage for swollen ankle issues like lymphatic drainage. Regular massaging techniques act as yoga for legs and feet and help with healing.

protip_icon Quick Tip
If you want to make your cankles look smaller, wear long, wide-legged pants, choose chunky heels, and avoid shoes with ankle straps.

Your diet choices also play a significant role when it comes to combating cankles. Listed below are some of the best diet tips that can help this condition.

Best Diet For Cankles

Proper nutrition for reducing cankles is important. Those who have developed cankles must avoid certain foods and increase the intake of a few others.

What To Eat
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains like oats
  • Diuretic foodsi  Foods that naturally help your body get rid of excess salt (sodium) and water. like cucumber, cranberry, watermelon, celery, etc.
  • Enough protein
What Not To Eat
  • High sodium foods like junk foods and canned (processed) foods
  • Alcohol
  • Saturated fats like butter, cream, ghee, and cheese

Once you start following a healthy diet and lifestyle, remember that patience is key. You will see a noticeable difference in the appearance of cankles in no time.

Infographic: Home Remedies For Swollen Ankles

Cankles are the plump or swollen ankles that blend unflatteringly with the flesh of the calves. They have many causes and can be addressed through various interventions. For example, you can change your diet and add specific swelling reduction exercises to gradually reduce the fat or swelling around your ankles. Slowly you will be able to get back to running or jogging.

Check out the infographic below on swollen ankles treatments to reduce the swelling around your calves and ankles naturally.

remedies for swollen ankles (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Cankles are usually seen in women due to genetics, fluid retention, or pregnancy. With the above exercises and tips on how to get rid of cankles, you may now be able to deal with them better. Walking or hiking can be effective as well. While the gentle stretches and exercises can help improve their appearance and reduce fluid retention, modifying your diet to avoid highly salty and sugary food is also important. While surgical options like liposuctioni  A surgical method that removes fat from particular parts of the body using a suction technique. can also help, it’s best to include the above exercises and diet changes in your workout and wellness routine to manage cankles better. Resistance band exercises, leg sculpting workouts, and high-intensity interval training for legs can also help, however, don’t forget to consult a doctor first.

Frequently Asked Questions

When to see the doctor for cankles?

If there is no difference in your cankles despite exercising regularly and following a healthy diet, it is best to visit a doctor to see what could be causing it. You can also consult a doctor if you are looking for surgical options to treat your condition.

What causes water retention in ankles?

Water retention in the ankles can be caused by various factors like a kidney/liver disease, obesity, standing or sitting for too long, pregnancy, or even varicose veins.

When should I undergo a surgery for cankles?

If diet and exercise have no effect on the appearance of your cankles, you can consult a medical practitioner to look at the possibility of surgery.

How long does it take to reduce cankles?

If you are following a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you will start noticing a difference in the appearance of your cankles in a few weeks.

How effective is liposuction for reducing the appearance of cankles?

Liposuction removes fat deposits in the cankles, thereby reducing the size of the ankle. The procedure is minimally invasive and demonstrates visible results after the recovery period.

What is the recovery process like after a cankle reduction surgery?

The recovery period varies from person to person. You can go home the same day, but physical activities are prohibited for at least a week, and compression socks are recommended. There can be swelling and constant pain, and the overall recovery period can last up to 2 to 4 weeks.

How much does cankle reduction surgery typically cost?

Liposuction is an expensive cosmetic procedure as it requires a team of experienced professionals. Depending on the location, it can cost anywhere from 5000$ to 15000$.

Are there any alternative cosmetic procedures for reducing the appearance of cankles?

Regular exercise and healthy eating habits can help reduce the size of your ankles. Another alternative is CoolSculpting, which is a non-surgical, non-invasive procedure that involves freezing the fat cells to eliminate them from the body.

Key Takeaways

  • Cankles are the fat or inflated ankles that blend unflatteringly with the flesh of the calves, caused by genetics, pregnancy, or fluid buildup in the ankles.
  • Exercises such as calf raises, plie squats, lunge calf raise, jumping rope, etc., help get rid of the condition.
  • Additionally, wear compression socks, practice stretching yoga poses, and swimming to reduce the appearance of cankles.
  • It is advisable to eat lots of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and proteins while avoiding junk food, alcohol and saturated fats.
how to get rid of cankles

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Get rid of swollen cankles with this easy exercise! Discover the simple steps to strengthen your calves and ankles and reduce swelling by checking out the video below.

Personal Experience: Source

Was this article helpful?
Gaelle Clement
Gaelle ClementNatural Health Practitioner
Gaelle is an international health practitioner with 5 years of experience, currently based in Krasnodar, Russia. She is passionate about helping people of all genders and ages achieve optimal health by taking a holistic approach to wellbeing.

Read full bio of Gaelle Clement
Shaheen Naser
Shaheen NaserHealth & Wellness Writer
Shaheen holds a postgraduate degree in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from Bharathiar University. She is a Geneticist with proficiency in Biotechnology, Immunology, Medical Genetics, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Genetic Counseling.

Read full bio of Shaheen Naser
Arshiya Syeda
Arshiya SyedaSenior Editor
Arshiya Syeda is a senior editor at StyleCraze with 7 years of experience. Prior to that, she was a content writer and combined her writing and research skills to write over 200 high-performing articles on hairstyles, hair care, and skin care.

Read full bio of Arshiya Syeda
Himanshi Mahajan
Himanshi MahajanHealth & Wellness Writer
Himanshi Mahajan is a Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach. She has a bachelor’s degree in Life Sciences from Guru Nanak Dev University and two years of experience in writing SEO-based and research-backed content across health and lifestyle genres.

Read full bio of Himanshi Mahajan