Is Cracking Your Joints Bad For You?
The myth that cracking your knuckles causes arthritis may have been put to bed but there’s more to consider than just that.
Chronic manipulation of the joints or the soft tissue is when we are constantly popping or cracking the same joint or constantly digging into the same tense muscle to get relief. Yes, it does bring relief, but in the long term you may be doing a disservice to yourself.
I’m not suggesting you go cold turkey and never pop your joints. For some of us, myself included, that would be completely maddening. However, it is worth investigating what we are avoiding by constantly looking for short-term relief.
Our pain is trying to speak to us and there is great value in taking the time to listen to it, no matter how uncomfortable that may be. It’s impossible to feel what’s there if we are always seeking comfort. You’ve heard the old saying “feeling is healing”, so what aren’t you feeling when you crack your joints?
My suggestion is to find a chair or a seated position and simply let your body be still like you would in a meditation. Instead of focussing on your breath, focus on the area that you desperately want to crack, pop, or dig into. And then resist that urge. Simply be still and feel. Soften your body as much as you can while also sitting tall. Notice what you are feeling with curiosity. There’s no need to make any story about how horrible your body is, or how you are never getting better, or how you can’t soften, or how you hate this exercise. Don’t be trapped by your victimhood. Just feel and observe.
You may have memories and emotions come up while you are observing these tight areas in your body. Let it flow. You may also feel the tension dissipate and move to another area. Follow the movement. There’s no right or wrong. This is simply an experiment in giving your body the space and stillness it needs to be heard.
If nothing happens, be patient. Try this daily. If you are surrendering and softening both your body and your mind then you can’t go wrong.
If you are getting treated by a myofascial therapist try using this information during a treatment. Often I’ve seen clients who want to wiggle about to avoid their pain. Once they learn to be still and really feel, their sessions become more powerful. If your body starts to move and unwind spontaneously that’s okay, you can let it move. Or if you are really in pain and it does not feel therapeutic to be still please follow your intuition on that. Remember these are always general suggestions that work for most people on most days but may not be what you need in any given moment.
As always, I hope this information helped you. I know it has helped me immensely.