Cracking Your Joints: Is It Safe?

Doesn’t reading the title just make you want to do it?

Who hasn’t cracked their joints at least once in their lifetime? After writing that last word on your AP Lang essay, during a test, or even when you’re just simply bored. If you’re like me, cracking their joints has become an essential, yet trivial, part of your daily routine; it’s a weird habit that just feels strange not to do, whether it be your fingers, toes, neck, or back.  

According to a study done by Gregory N. Kawchuk from the University of Alberta, the popping sound you hear when you crack your knuckles happens because of vapor bubbles between your joints. Essentially, synovial fluids (thick fluid that basically lubricate your joints) are what form the vapor bubbles. When you crack your knuckles, the separation of your joints leads to the deficiency of fluid. So, gas-filled bubbles appear to fill the space and when they pop, that’s when you hear that satisfying sound.

Needless to say, just by the connotation, “cracking your joints”, the action seems quite dangerous. After all, there’s been a debate (and still is) going on about whether cracking your joints causes arthritis or not. Arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation, is an “informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease”. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness, ranging from mild all the way to severe. However, people still do crack whatever joint they can, which is understandable. After all, it’s still not proven whether cracking your joints causes arthritis. As Dr. Stephen Kennedy, a hand, wrist, and elbow surgeon states, there has been absolutely no evidence to support the fact that cracking your joints causes arthritis. Either way, some choose to take the safe route and don’t even think about cracking their joints.

There’s a complete division between people who approve and disapprove about cracking your joints. Well, how about KISians? What do they have to say about cracking their joints? Looks like it’s time for some real talk. *gong*

YES: “Let’s crack ALL the joints!”

“I sometimes crack my joints and I don’t think it’s bad for me at all. It’s not scientifically proven. But I just do it when I’m stressed or bored.”

 – William Lee (’18)

“I crack my knuckles all the time. I don’t believe in any of the rumors about how cracking your knuckles is bad for you, because cracking your knuckles is just taking out the oxygen in between your bones. So it doesn’t make your fingers thicker.”

– Emily Lee (‘17)

“It feels good especially for athletes when they crack their knuckles. I don’t think it’s good, but I still do it anyways.”

– Stella Yun (’18)

“Personally, I just like the sound of it.”

– Brian Choi (‘17)

“Well I think that there is no harm in doing it, since there were studies done on it. It can get addicting and could be annoying to others, but I do it often… Some people say that you get arthritis from cracking your knuckles but it has been proved that it doesn’t.”

– Alex Kim (‘17)

NO: “Can you not?!”

“I mean…it sounds like your fingers are just going to pop off. And I’m pretty sure cracking your joints like your knuckles makes your fingers thicker and bent”.

– Grace Kim (’17)

“I don’t crack my joints because it hurts my bone, and I think it makes your finger distorted. I don’t really care about other people doing it but if they do it continuously, like every minute, it’s annoying to hear”.

– Lisa Han (‘17)

“I want to crack my joints but I can’t. People say it feels good so I want to try it but I heard that your fingers might break and get chopped off”.

– Claire Yoon (’18)

“I try not to crack my knuckles because I’m scared my fingers are going to break!”

– Ashley Dhong (‘16)

Whether you’re for or against cracking your joints, both sides can equally be supported. It obviously doesn’t sound right to purposefully make your joints pop, but there has been no proof to establish the fact that cracking your joints lead to any sort of major consequences. Rather, there has been more proof to show that arthritis theories and fat finger theories are all hoax. So to those of you who crack your knuckles: fear not, you’ll be fine. I think. Probably!


– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

(Featured Image: Peter Oumanski for TIME)

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