June 16, 2015

Give It A Crack!

What really happens when you crack your knuckles? I’m sure this is a question that existed in your mind  since you started cracking your knuckles.

Now whether you do it to look macho before a fight, or just out of habit, your parents would’ve told you a million times that its bad for your joints and that you shouldn’t do it. 

Well, you’ll be relieved to know that it’s nothing but a myth. Another floating myth around this topic is that cracking your knuckles harms the bones and can lead to arthritis in the long run.

Researchers have ruled out any such ill effects. On the contrary, when you crack one of your joints you’re simply pulling the bones that are linked at the joint away from each other. This stimulates your tendons, relaxes your muscles, and loosens your joints giving them a much needed break.

When you visit a chiropractor or your local massage wala, this is what he does to your spine to relax it. But you can do this on your own for your toes, fingers and knees for immediate relief. Now what really goes on when you crack your knuckles is quite interesting. 

The cracking goes on at the joint capsule, where the two bones are connected to each other by a tissue known as the ligament. This area of connection of all these bones and ligaments is lubricated by a fluid called the synovial fluid. This fluid has dissolved gases such as nitrogen and oxygen quietly sitting in it. 

When a knuckle is cracked, the pulling of the bone away from the joint causes the super-fast formation of a gas cavity in this synovial fluid that actually causes the cracking sound that most of us either love or loathe.

Once the bubble bursts and the ‘pop’ is heard, you won’t be able to crack them for another 25-30 minutes because the gas gets reabsorbed by the synovial fluid. So you can time your knuckle cracking accordingly! 

If you want to act macho, don’t crack them for at least half an hour before you plan to! However, although there’s no arthritis or any such risk related to the cracking, too much of anything isn’t good. 

Pulling too much and cracking too much could strain your ligaments just like too much of bowling would strain a bowlers arm. So go easy, and give it a crack!

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