I received this question from up.it.is on Instagram. He asks:
“I was wondering how clicking your joints would affect your playing/why this actually occurs. Sometimes I feel like I need to click my neck/knuckles/toes/knees before and during play. Is this a bad habit and should I stop?”
Great question! First of all, I assume you are talking about what I think call cracking or popping your knuckles. The reason for knuckle popping has to do with how the joint works. In order to reduce friction between the bones, a synovial joint (the kind with a capsule, like you knees and knuckles.) uses synovial fluid. This fluid has quite a lot of gas in solution. This gas naturally comes out of solution and forms a big bubble in between the bones. When you pop your knuckles, the sound is this bubble popping. In a healthy joint, it is nothing to worry about: the gas doesn’t disappear and the protective action of the gas doesn’t require it to be in a bubble at all, so it doesn’t really change anything. It just makes a popping sound.
However. The kind of bending that you do in order to get that sound may end up causing harm. If you repeatedly over-stretch a joint you can end up adding unnecessary wear and tear, and if there are other compounding factors, such as arthritis, you can end up causing damage. The rule of thumb is that it is fine as long as it doesn’t hurt.
This information is for your information only. It is not intended to be medical advice and should not be taken as such. The idea here is that the more you know, the healthier and more effective you will be. If you suspect you have a problem that requires medical attention, please see a reputable doctor who is knowledgeable about your problem. .