Wellness
This is what happens to your knuckles when you crack them
Have you ever thought about what's actually doing the "cracking"?
Eduardo Gaskell
10.22.21

Snap! Crack! Pop!

There’s just that sensation of relief when you crack your knuckles or joints after a strenuous event. It releases some tension, gives you that loosening-up feeling, and just seems to make your blood flow better.

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But what exactly happens when we crack and pop the body’s parts?

It’s all about the synovial fluid. It’s an egg yolk-like substance found in between your joints. When you stretch out a joint, gas is released. That gas forms a bubble that collapses and pops.

Go ahead and try it.

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To crack the same joint, you would have to wait 20 minutes for gas to return to the area. This means your back has a lot of pent-up gas just waiting to pop. Maybe a good massage will help.

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Your knees snap too, but not for the same reason.

Those are your tendons sliding over bone and muscle. And it usually only makes a sound when you try to sit or stand in a hurry. That usually comes with age but if there’s any kind of pain, go see a doctor.

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Also, if your joints are painful or swollen after a good cracking, it’s probably due to an underlying condition like arthritis or gout.

There are no known side effects though. Donald Unger did an experiment using both his hands. He popped and cracked the joints of one hand for a good 60 years. The other hand did not get any such cracking.

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60 years later and both Donald’s hands were in the same condition.

Are there any side effects?

Harvard Health had this to say,

“A study published in 1990 found that among 74 people who regularly cracked their knuckles, their average grip strength was lower and there were more instances of hand swelling than among 226 people who did not crack their knuckles. However, the incidence of arthritis was the same in both groups.”

That’s a relief!

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Let’s all admit it, cracking the knuckles during stressful situations does help in some way. Maybe it’s psychological, who knows. No different from stretching and hearing those pops before lifting in the gym.

It’s like playing with bubble wrap.

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And as if to drive the point home, here’s a viewer’s comment on the matter.

“I remember being told in high school that popping my knuckles would give me arthritis by the time I was 30. I’m 62 now, and no arthritis. Conclusion: don’t listen to old wives tales.”

It’s a fact we’ve all been wanting to know.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you’re constantly tired and stressed, maybe a change in lifestyle is in order. Take a break and go on a vacation at least. You may forget about cracking those knuckles for a while.

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That cracking, popping sound will forever be satisfying for sure.

This is one of those facts we all overlooked for some reason. No one really gave it much thought but thanks to modern technology, we’ve just been handed some really useful information.

Hit play below for a visual guide on how and why joints pop and crack!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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By Eduardo Gaskell
hi@sbly.com
Eduardo Gaskell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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