Rankled by cankles? Help is on the way, maybe

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The well-turned ankle has been a mark of beauty since those olden days when a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking.

So it was only a matter of time before the shape-challenged ankle, dubbed the cankle, claimed its unsightly place beside the muffin top, the love handle, and the saddlebag as the latest fly in beauty’s ointment.

“When the calf merges with the ankle, with no clear separation between the two, the cankle is born,” L.A.-based celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza said in an interview.

Braganza has guided the workouts of such slim-legged luminaries as actresses Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, and Anne Hathaway.

Now she is on a mission to “turn cankles back into ankles.”

Braganza is offering what she calls a Cankle Buster Workout, designed to rid the stricken of mother nature’s latest little prank.

“I found that when you combine cardio, stretching and plyometrics movements (jumping), and combine them with weight training, you get a synergistic, cankle blasting workout,” she explained.

Her program includes daily 30-60-minute brisk walks, as well as a series of squat and lateral jumps, ankle circles, calf raises and downward dog yoga poses.

“I have used this workout on many of my female clients to build shapely, lean legs,” she said.

Braganza, who considers herself a cankles survivor, said she became aware of her own lack of ankle tone during her stint as an National Football League (NFL) cheerleader with the L.A. Raiders.

“I knew that if I did not find a way to get rid of my problem area, I might not make it back on the squad,” she said.

Braganza says societal awareness of cankles, and its attendant heartbreak, is on the rise.

“Cankles have become true pop culture punch line,” she said, citing the cankle episode of the cable TV series Weeds, allusions to Rachel’s chubby ankles on the long-running sitcom Friends, and numerous references to the condition on the television show Saturday Night Live.

So in the spirit of the times Braganza developed her workout in collaboration with the Gold’s Gym.

“We wanted to focus in on a key problem area and build a public awareness campaign using many of the same tactics that have been successful in the disease prevention arena, said Lisa Zoellner, chief marketing officer of Gold’s, which has 675 gyms in 28 countries.

“Cankles, love handles, muffin tops, saddle bags ... these are all ‘aesthetic afflictions’ we feel can be prevented or managed through diet and exercise,” Zoellner said from the company’s headquarters in Dallas, TX.

Dr. Terrence Philibin, of the Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Center in Columbus, Ohio, prefers to cut closer to the bone.

“A cankle is usually seen in someone fairly overweight,” Philibin said. “I don’t think it’s a true entity.”

“I think it’s a medical slang term and losing weight is probably the best thing for it,” he said.

Braganza concedes that “obesity will rear its ugly head, adding a layer of fat to the ankle, giving it that stumpy look.”

Indeed she lists “diet, diet, diet” as “the final piece of the cankle puzzle.” She thinks that genetics also plays a part, as does water retention.

But she agrees with Philibin about one thing: “Cankle is definitely slang,” she said.