The Unsightly Truth About ‘Cankles’

by Chris Martin on November 1, 2014

Many websites (including this one) are singing the praises of standing desks and their impact on workplace health. Standing desks help you shed your sedentary lifestyle and thereby reduce your risks of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

So if standing desks are so unbelievably awesome, what’s the catch? Sure, they can be more expensive than regular desks. And many office environments (like cube farms) aren’t well-configured for standing desks.

But for all the physical benefits that standing desks can bring, they can also result in (at least) one unwanted condition: cankles.

Anti-fatigue mats
“No, I didn’t sprain my ankle. But thanks for pointing it out.”

What Are Cankles?

A pejorative amalgamation of the words “calf” and “ankles,” cankles have been used to describe the painless swelling and bloating of ankles. Pregnancy and excessive salt intake can sometimes cause this problem, but standing for long periods of time is another common way of developing cankles. That’s because standing in one place for hours can lead to blood pooling around the ankles, which makes them swell up.

People with cankles shouldn’t panic; after all, they haven’t been linked to any harmful medical conditions or even to poor health in general. And in certain jobs, workers who wear long pants and/or sneakers or boots may not care about (or even notice) cankles. But for some people, especially women who like to wear capri pants, skirts, or shorts with fashionable footwear, cankles can be less than desirable.

Cankles and Standing Desks

Which brings us back to the trend of standing desks. Chances are, if you’ve been sitting at a desk for years and suddenly try to transition to working at a standing desk, your body may respond in unexpected ways. Much like sore muscles are a common byproduct of starting a new weight-training regimen, cankles may develop in people who are quitting sitting desks cold turkey.

Anti-fatigue mats
You could cover up your cankles like this. But it may look a little too obvious.

Tips To Avoid Cankles

How can you reap the advantages of a standing desk and still prevent the emergence of cankles? Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you’re making the jump to a standing desk, ease yourself into it. Don’t go from sitting eight hours a day to standing for the same length of time. If possible, start with standing for a couple hours each day and gradually increase that time period over the course of a few weeks.
  • Invest in footwear that is comfortable. The secret to success in jobs like waiting tables and guarding buildings? Comfortable shoes. So either purchase a different pair of shoes or add soft insoles to the footwear you already have to mitigate the additional stress on your feet caused by more standing.
  • Opt for a “sit-standing desk” instead. Most of the hype du jour centers on standing desks; but in reality, many workers have simply split the difference and switched to a desk that has adjustable height controls. This allows them to alternate between sitting and standing throughout their workday, which minimizes the ill effects of excessive standing.
  • Get a stool. Many of the health improvements gained from shedding the office chair can still be enjoyed by sitting on a stool. If you like, you can use the stool for periodic “sitting breaks” to give your legs and feet a rest without succumbing to the drawbacks of a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Go for a walk. Cankles form when blood pools near the ankles – but that won’t happen if your legs are moving. So walking around the office a few times during the day can keep the blood flowing throughout the body. In reality, a proper combination of standing and walking is what is needed to maximize the health benefits of a standing desk.
  • Get an anti-fatigue mat. Another way to stimulate blood flow is with an anti-fatigue mat. These specially-designed products force the body to make numerous microadjustments, which enable the blood to keep circulating from the heart to the limbs and extremities and back again – all while standing in the same spot.
Anti-fatigue mats
You could also get a foot massage. But you don’t need to have cankles to enjoy that!

To purchase a high-quality anti-fatigue mat, you can contact Ultimate Mats and check out their selection of products which can be shipped directly to your home or business.

Cankles are not ideal, but you shouldn’t overreact if you start to see them when you look down at your feet. Nevertheless, if you want to get rid of them, there are some steps you can take (literally, in some cases) to make sure you get the positive results of a standing desk without sacrificing the appearance of your lower extremities.

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