Ladies, you may find yourselves sighing and hesitating because you can't wear gladiator-style sandals or cropped leggings due to the sight of your calf-ankles, commonly referred to as cankles. The issue of calf-ankles -- a straight lower leg with no shape or curve -- affects women of all shapes and sizes because of various health issues.

According to CNN, podiatrists say the average ankle size is about 10 to 11 inches around. Men's ankles may be slightly larger due to different physical builds. While the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) does not consider cankles to be a medical term nor a medical condition, the lack of a clear distinction between the calf and ankles is affiliated with several health issues. Conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular risks, and even lymphedema can lead to cankles, Dr. Kathya Zinszer, a physician at Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine, told CNN.

"All of those can lend themselves to deformed ankles or what people are [calling] cankles," Zinszer told CNN.

There is no official ideal calf to ankle body proportions but that doesn't stop many Americans from wanting to keep in shape - for their ankles. The first misconception of cankles is that it has to do with leg fat, and being overweight but this isn't the only cause. According to cankles.org, the constant swelling could be a result of many factors that range from your diet to hormonal fluctuations. The ankle is composed of a thinner bone on the outside and a thicker bone in the inside with tendons that wrap themselves that help you get out and about, said Dr. Oz on the Dr. Oz Show. If the fat cells in the ankle become swollen - there is extra tissue around the ankle - the final result? Cankles.

If you do not know why you're sporting cankles and can't squeeze yourself into a pair of gladiator-styled sandals or super skinny jeans, you may have an underlying health condition that you are unaware of. Learn what health issues can put you at risk for cankles and tips to keep them slim.

Genetics

You may have cankles due to your family gene pool. Fat can be stored in a variety of areas on your body - even your ankles. Spot-reducing fat on your ankles does not get rid of fat deposits - body fat will be body fat. The fat cells in your ankle are responsible for the engorging of the area between your calf and ankle, says Dr. Oz. While you can't change your genetic makeup, you can implement simple ways to camouflage your cankles.

Tip:

You can get ankle liposuction for cankles - on average the surgery costs $6,000, reports Dr. Oz. For a cheaper and cost-effective alternative, you can work out your calves - this will make your ankles appear thinner in contrast to your calves.  

Fluid Retention

A diet high in salt and sodium and low in protein could be responsible for the swelling of your ankles. Fluid retention in your ankles is a result of heavy sodium consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the daily sodium intake should be between 1500 mg and 2300 mg.

Tip:

Incorporate more fruits and vegetables in a well-balanced diet. Also, be sure to not stay seated or lying down for long periods of time.

Poor dieting habits are not solely responsible for water retention. Pregnancy can also be a risk factor for cankles. Hormone fluctuations during a woman's menstrual cycle or pregnancy can result in the engorging of the ankles because the fluids have not been drained away and instead, are stored in the tissue.

Tip:

During pregnancy, many women are prone to poor circulation - to help reduce the swelling - do not consume high-sodium and processed foods.

Heart And Kidney Failure

The formation of cankles can be an indicator of a series of health issues - heart failure or kidney issues. A pitting edema - leaves a dent in the skin after you press on the area with a finger for approximately five seconds can be a sign of severe swelling, says Medline Plus. As a rule of thumb, Dr. Oz suggests to try pressing on your ankle for five second and if you notice a pit - this could be a sign of heart failure or kidney issues.

Tip:

For a pitting edema, it is best to get evaluated by your physician to give you a proper diagnosis of the condition.