That popping sound when you crack your knuckles ain’t so bad. Know the science, so that next time you indulge without any quilt.
Its all about O2
In joints like our knuckles, oxygen from our blood stream diffuses into the fluids around the joints. These fluids do the job of reducing friction by lubricating the joint, supplying oxygen and nutrients and removing carbon dioxide and metabolic wastes.
What makes the pop?
When forcible pressure is applied, the oxygen diffused into the fluid gets expunged with the sound. That’s what cause what we call the cracking of knuckles. While most people can only do this with their knuckles, other can do it with other joints as well, like ankles and toes.
Chiropractors and physiotherapists sometimes crack a joint when there is a restriction. This is known as “manipulation” and need to be done professionally.
WHAT YOU WANTED TO KNOW, BUT NEVER KNEW WHOM TO ASK
Is it bad for you?
By itself it makes no difference. The air that is expunged is slowly replaced by oxygen from the blood stream again. So in about 10 minutes, you would be able to crack the joint once again. Problems only arise if a ligament is stretched. Since the tissues are forcibly stretched into the manoeuvre this is possible, though not very likely.
No, this is only an old wives tale.
Make finger fatter?
No, there is not truth to it.
Lower grip strength?
So can you do it all the time?
Chiropractor Stuart Clifton recommends not getting too used to cracking your knuckles. While its ok occasionally, if you become a maniacal knuckle cracker, you might wind up with ligament laxity, which means that the ligament becomes loose and flexible. This adds wear and tear to the joints.
Why does it feel so good?
One theory about why the cracking of knuckles feels good is that it releases endorphins, the feel happy hormones. However if you really want to reap the psychological benefits of endorphin, we recommend you go run instead.
By Stuart Clifton