Knuckle Popping – What is that Noise?
1. What is knuckle cracking? What’s actually at work in the body when you crack your knuckles? Is it bad for you?
Knuckle “Cracking” is the audible sound that occurs when stretching the joints of your fingers. These joints are called Synovial joints, and are surrounded by a fluid filled capsule. The fluid filled capsule contains what is called synovial fluid, to lubricate the surfaces within. Within the Synovial Fluid there is dissolved gases, in generally the same ratio as there is in our atmosphere, roughly 80% Nitrogen. When you stretch your fingers you are also stretching the capsule surrounding the joint. This decreases the pressure inside and allows for a small Nitrogen bubble to form and instantly collapse. The collapsing bubble is what causes the audible “pop” that we hear. The gases take about 20 minutes during a refractory period to fully dissolve back into the fluid. That is why you can’t continuously “Crack” the same joint over and over, until some time has passed. There is no evidence that cracking your knuckles has any detrimental effect on your body.
2. Why do so many people crack their knuckles? What gives people the impulse? What makes it feel good?
Many people use there hands for repetitive tasks through out the day, as the muscles tighten, the joints too feel tight. Cracking the knuckles gives your fingers, and joints a stretch to relieve the pressure building up. Both relieving the pressure and stimulation of mechanoreceptors in the joint capsule provide relief from the tightness felt.
3. Are certain people prone to being more addicted to cracking their knuckles (back, neck, knees, wrists, etc) than others?
People that use there hands and fingers (or other muscles) regularly during the course of the day without otherwise stretching will feel the need more often.
4. What are some hacks or tricks people can employ to help them quit cracking their knuckles?
Hand, wrist, forearm stretches performed regularly can help relieve the need to crack your knuckle as often.
5. What are some common myths about cracking your knuckles? Do you have any other relevant fun facts to share?
The most pervasive myth that I know about cracking your knuckles is that it will cause arthritis. This has never been shown to be the case. It in fact can relieve the pressure and stress on the joints and prevent one kind of arthritis, osteoarthritis.
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