It’s not uncommon for people to complain about the shape and size of their ankles, often referring to them as ‘cankles.’ A cankle is a mix of calves and ankles where the calf meets the foot without a tapering shape between these two body parts. 

A cankle can form for various reasons. Excessive weight gain is a very common factor or if you are prone to retraining fluid this can also make the ankle appear wider. Lastly, some people are just genetically predisposed to having a wider ankle.

If you’re concerned about your ankles (although, every body… including your ankles are beautiful) here are three fixes to take into consideration: 

Weight gain: 
As weight increases so does the number of fat cells stored in your legs. Cankles can be caused by our friend gravity, pulling fat and fluid down toward the ankle area. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and proper nutrition will impact your whole body – including the size and shape of your ankles. 

Try full body workouts that are designed to burn fat. This includes both aerobic and full body strength training exercise performed on a regular basis. One of the best ways to transform your physique (especially your legs) is with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), where you do intervals of cardio with strength training.

Choose exercises that place extra effort into exercising your calves. Jumping rope, cycling (clipped into the pedals), step training, sprinting, jumping jacks and squats incorporating calf raises, as well as calf raises performed on their own are all great exercises to target those stubborn cankles!  

Fluid retention: 
Does it seem like you just looked down and in the blink of an eye your slender ankles were gone? A quick change in ankle girth can be caused by fluid retention due to things like pregnancy, humidity, prolonged sitting (especially with legs crossed) or excessive sodium intake. 

Compression socks are a great option to quickly relieve swelling however they will not fix the problem long term. If you’re looking for a long term solution you need to make a change to your nutrition as well as including regular exercise into your daily routine.

Avoid foods that are high in sodium (processed and fast foods). Also, be sure that you are drinking enough water to curb dehydration and prevent fluid retention.

Engage in regular fat-burning exercise combining moderate to vigorous aerobic activity with resistance training in a HIIT format: 45 second intervals of high intensity aerobic exercise and strength training, followed by 15 second intervals of active recovery performed for 20-30 minutes, 3 times per week, along with regular cardio exercise and strength training on their own will tighten and tone your calves and everything above.  

The truth is you can't change your genetics. But what you can do is target your workouts to focus on your calves – an area that is generally overlooked.  

20 Minute calf workout: 
Warm up: 3-4 minutes of moderate intensity cardio such as stationary cycling, step ups or light jogging. 

Workout: Perform the following exercises for 45 seconds (at an intensity level perceived as vigorous to hard), followed by 15 seconds of active recovery (light jogging or step training):  

  1. Jumping jacks (or jump rope)
  2. Squats with calf raises (with 5-10 pound dumbbell in each hand)
  3. Jump rope or step training (up & down on a step platform as quickly as possible)
  4. Forward stepping lunges (alternating legs)
  5. High knee running/sprinting/hopping (one foot to the other)
  6. Supine (on your back) hip bridge with both heels lifted off the ground
  7. Squat jumps
  8. Single leg calf raises (arms crossed in front of chest; hands on shoulders or with a weighted plate cradled). After your recovery, repeat on other leg.