Krackin Knuckles: Is It Bad for You?
Soo like everyday at some point I will randomly feel the need to interlock my fingers and crack my knuckles. Then I might follow up with some different cracking positions to get the most pops out of my hands. Some people find this disgusting, I think it is very relieving! Not that I'm feeling any stress or tension in my hands, but it always feels good to give em a good KRRRAAACK! So I decided to do some research about whyyy we can crack our knuckles and whyyy we do it. I also want to know if cracking my knuckles has any benefits or is a detriment to my health. I knew it has something to do with like pockets of air (or something), but I really couldn't explain it before I did some research.
As it turns out, cracking your knuckles isn't all that bad. But that being said, it isn't what I would describe as a "healthy habit". What is actually happening when you crack your knuckles is a rapid release of gases that had built up in the synovial fluid in your joints. That makes sense because once you crack your knuckles you can't repeat the process until sometime later, you need the gases (Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Carbon Dioxide) pressure to build to be released. The guys in THIS WikiAnswers thread seem to have some clue as to what they are talking about.
So that is why we can crack our knuckles, but what about health concerns? In THIS response by Dr. Peter Bonafede he cites 2 studies, one conducted in 1975 and one in 1990, that explore the possible adverse consequences of knuckle cracking. The studies revealed that knuckle cracking didn't have any effect on the advancement of arthritis but did however discover the possible decline in hand strength. What I gathered from his response was that knuckle cracking is neither good nor bad even though the doctor's final conclusion wasn't exactly 'pro cracking'. So you aren't making your hands more flexible but on the same note you aren't setting yourself up for arthritis either.
The last thing I wanted to know was why we do it. What is it that makes us crack our knuckles? I was told that it creates a release of endorphins and because of such you felt much more relieved post-crack. Some authors say it is just a nervous habit and it relieves "nervous tension". But to me it feels like it is different than playing with your hair or tapping your finger. I did a simple search for "endorphins knuckle cracking" and found a variety of iffy sources. One answerer on a forum said that knuckle cracking does not release endorphins because no pain or damage is being inflicted and thus endorphins are not released. Yet others say that knuckle cracking releases a small amount of endorphins to create that "relieved" feeling. I even found one thread that said knuckle cracking makes them sleepy.
So I guess my answer to why it is we do it is out of habit and because it feels good for some inexplicable reason. Whatever, I'm going to continue to crack my knuckles and I'll tell you how I turned out in 50 years. Happy krackin :P