I remember a while ago i used to work for someone who detested the popping sound that came from me stretching and cracking my knuckles whenever i felt my fingers needed stretching and relaxing from much typing(not much actually). She’d often cringe and say “oh my God, don’t do that!”. Just incase you’re lost, she wasn’t referring to God, she was referring to me and my knuckle popping. Up until then i never thought they’d be anyone who found the cracking of knuckles to be irritating.
During my time there, i started to ignore the urge to crack my knuckles, not cos i didn’t want to lose my job…lol.. but cos i am a nice guy who cares for other peoples’ feelings *wink. So i dropped the habit, and today i only do it when i remember and just want to get a feel of it one more time. its not that easy to let go of.
i must thank her though, she made me do some finding out about it.
So, did you know that the cracking sound we hear from our joints aren’t produced by our bones but from when bubbles burst in the fluid surrounding the joint? Our neck, wrist, waist, back and toes are about the places i’m aware people stretch to make popping sounds out of. If you know of anywhere else, do tell me.
We all know, atleast some of us, that joints are the meeting points of two separate bones, held together by connective ligaments and tissues. The entire joints in our bodies are surrounded by a fluid called the synovial fluid, a thick, clear liquid. When you stretch or bend your joint to crack the knuckle or wherever, you’re causing the bones of the joint to pull apart. As this happens, the connective tissue capsule that surrounds the joint is stretched. By stretching this capsule, you increase its volume. With an increase in volume comes a decrease in pressure, remember that from science class? So as the pressure of the synovial fluid drops, gases dissolved in the fluid become less soluble, then cavitation sets in. Cavitation is the formation of bubbles. When the joint is stretched far enough, the pressure in the capsule drops so low that these bubbles burst, thereby producing the crack/pop that we recognise as knuckle cracking.
It takes about 30 minutes for the gas to redissolve into the joint fluid. This is the period when you try to crack your knuckles, and they just won’t crack. There’re no gas bubbles to pop just yet. Once the gas is redissolved, cavitation is once again possible, and you can start popping your knuckles again. You can do it anyway you want, you can do it Sylvester Stallone way(the much younger version) or the Terry Crews way(not the ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ version, he was too soft there).
People who often pop their knuckles experience increased mobility in joints right after popping. When joints are manipulated, the Golgi tendon organs (a set of nerve endings involved in humans’ motion sense) are stimulated and the muscles surrounding the joint are relaxed.
But when you pop your knuckles too much, this is what you end up with.
Hehe! Just kidding. Contrary to some beliefs, there’s no apparent connection between joint cracking and Arthritis; however, habitual knuckle poppers show signs of other types of damage such as soft tissue damage to the joint capsule and a decrease in grip strength. This damage is most likely a result of the rapid, repeated stretching of the ligaments surrounding the joint.
So while you turn your fingers to a bubble wrap every now and then, have that at the back of your mind.
i’m going to put down my phone now and pop some knuckles. You know, i should be popping some bottles, but i’m so broke, the only thing i can afford to pop are these knuckles.