The spine is just as prone to making sounds, especially when doing neck rolls and supine twists. Even simply lying down can readjust the sacroiliac joint with a little click. We also have our own quirkily click-y joints, whether it’s a right ankle or oft-clenched jaw.
Joint cracking can feel good. When my mid spine pops during a deep twist, I feel a pleasant release and can rotate further. Same with the femur-in-hip-socket example: this is the front leg during trikonasana or three-legged dog pose. Once the joint pops, I feel my hamstrings elongate with more ease. Ah!
But is such joint cracking (whether voluntary or involuntary) safe?
In his book YinSights (available online here), Bernie Clark writes a section called Fixation, in which he conjectures three reasons why joints make sounds:
- Bubbles of nitrogen gas form in the synovial fluids of our joints, and they make a popping sound when released. Until another bubble forms, you won’t be able to pop the joint again.
- Friction between tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and other tissue will make a sound when rubbed together. This type of popping can be repeated again and again (example: cracking knuckles). While typically benign, friction-caused popping can aggravate injury if torn tissues are involved.
- Fixation occurs when two surfaces temporarily adhere. When they release, they make a cracking sound. Like the popping from nitrogen-gas release, fixation popping happens only occasionally. According to Clark, breaking fixation is beneficial to prevent joints from becoming fused or otherwise limited in ROM.
So, barring injuries or nervous habits, joint cracking or popping seems acceptable. What’s your opinion on joint noises?