Similar to other old wives’ tales such as ‘eat your crusts for curly hair’ and ‘keep a straight face in case the wind changes’, is cracking your knuckles really bad for you?!
Some people crack their knuckles by pulling the tip of each finger one at a time until they hear a crack. Others make a tight fist or bend their fingers backwards away from the hand, cracking the lot at once. If you are one of those people who sits and cracks your knuckles while others wince, at some point somebody is bound to have told you that cracking your joints is bad for you.
First, a quick anatomy lesson: Many of your joints—including those that allow your fingers to beckon or point—feature small pockets or gaps that are filled with synovial fluid. Like axle grease, this fluid allows the bones that commingle in your joints to glide close to one another without grating. The more you crack your joints, the more you stretch and loosen them, both its capsule and the surrounding ligaments. And the looser those components become, the more easily your joint will pop. So is this bad for your joints? Almost certainly not…. Multiple studies have looked into the prevalence of “crackers” among large groups of osteoarthritis patients.
They found no evidence that finger pullers and poppers are more likely to suffer from arthritis than those who don’t crack their knuckles. A recent study found that people who cracked their knuckles had the same levels of swelling, weakness, ligament looseness and physical function as those who did not. Some, however, can’t take off the habit because cracking the knuckles can make you feel good as the practice stretches the joints as well as stimulates the nerve endings there.
The feeling that some of these people felt so grossed out by it that they created these myths. So the myth that cracking your knuckles is bad turns out to just be a little white lie told by your parents or friends… 🙂
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