Not what it’s cracked up to be


Photo by Photo illustrated by Adam Monnette

Olivia Noland, junior, cracks her kunckles in an attempt to relieve stress. “I don’t crack my knuckles often, but it is satisfying when I do crack them.”

Adam Monnette, Staff Writer


You’re sitting in a classroom, taking a test. All you can hear is the scraping of a pencil without an eraser, and the clicking of a pen. All of a sudden, you turn around and see someone cracking their back and fingers, interrupting the peace.

Buy why do people crack their knuckles, and what are the ramifications of doing so?

The reason behind the cracking

“I crack my knuckles because it helps me relax, and gives my mind something else to focus on,” Olivia Noland, junior, said. “I love the feeling of the bones popping.”

When you crack your knuckles, the sound usually comes from air bubbles in between the joints. According to a study done by Harvard Medical School. The reason why you cannot usually crack the same knuckle multiple times is that the air bubbles need time to build back up, making it so you get the popping sound.

Cracking your body is very common as 84 percent of people crack their body more than once a day, according to a survey of 573 people done by Bear Facts.

“The first time I cracked my body, I fell on the pavement, and heard a loud noise, which I now know that my knuckles cracked as I fell, and my friends were all memorized with the noise,” Noland said. “From that day, I have been able to crack my body without much pain.”

Cracking down on myths

“Scientifically, cracking your body does not hurt your joints, nor does it cause arthritis,” Dr. Nicholas Deignan, chiropractor at Deignan Chiropractics, said. “It is a way for people to be able to release stress relatively safely.”

Even though cracking your joints does not lead to arthritis, it has lead to weaker grip strength.

“As you repeatedly crack your joints, synovial fluid, [the liquid and air inside your joints] will start to hurt the joint and may cause some pain in the relative short term,”Deignan said. “You may have weaker grip strength, so don’t go hanging off the side of a cliff for dear life.”