By Laurie Sweig
It doesn’t take much effort for my body to make sounds during certain movements. During a squat it seems to be my right knee that crackles but the left knee is silent. Turning my head left and right provides a bit of cracking sound. I’m not someone who regularly cracks my knuckles. I think the last time I did that was back in public school when everyone would compete for the loudest crack or pop. I know there are some people who often “crack” knuckles, elbows, necks, etc. Pick a joint, any joint. Actually, I just lifted my arms overhead and my right shoulder provided a nice popping sound. That did feel good.
As concerning as a snap, crackle or pop can sound if there is no pain with the sound, joint noise is OK. One reason for the sound is the compression of nitrogen bubbles that naturally occur in the joints. Nitrogen is a component of the synovial fluid that lubricates the joint during movement. The cracking sound is the nitrogen gas being released from the joint. This action is called cavitation.
Tight muscles from activity can cause joint noises. The tightness causes an increase in rubbing and friction around the bone. Usually in this situation gentle stretches can decrease or alleviate the sounds. Apparently, the shoulder is the noisiest joint because it has so many moving parts. Guess I’ll try some shoulder stretches!
Aging is another reason for joint noise (of course it is). As we get older cartilage wears away leaving rougher surfaces so there is more sound created during movement. Again, if there is no pain associated with the sound then there is nothing to be concerned about. It’s part of the natural process. The best remedy is movement. The saying, “motion is lotion” applies here. The more we move the more the body lubricates itself. If you find yourself feeling or sounding creaky get up and get moving!
Something to think about!
Laurie Sweig is a certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor. She owns and operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at email@example.com.