Cracking your joints is something that a lot of people do, either through habit or to help relieve pressure or stress. It’s something that we do automatically, without even thinking about, and though it won’t cause much damage or harm, if you keep doing it for long periods of time, there is the chance that it could cause you problems.
Some people will say that the urge to crack their knuckles for example, is the same at needing to scratch an itch. It’s something natural and is done as a reflex reaction, rather than anything premeditated.
Why do we crack our joints
The sensation that we get when we crack joints such as our neck, knuckles or toes is due to endorphins that are released. Our joints are surrounded by capsules that are filled with a fluid which is for lubrication and consists of a range of dissolved gases, with nitrogen being the most prominent.
The cracking or popping noise that we sometimes hear is when the fluid inside capsules that surround our joints are stretched, which leads to a decrease in the pressure, resulting in a small bubble of nitrogen to quickly form and then pop.
It is claimed that when people crack their knuckles, they are actually releasing a great deal of pressure, sometimes several pounds worth, from their joints. This also explains why when people crack their neck, they do feel as though a load has been lifted from them.
Is it dangerous?
Anything can be dangerous if it’s something that you are exposed to for a prolonged period of time. If you crack your neck or other joints once in a while, this is fine. But if you are constantly cracking your neck, you may slowly start developing some problems for later life. It’s worth spending a little time to read dr. Dryer’s article on cracking neck joints, which has some interesting points you should consider.
There is also the risk that cracking your neck can lead to pinched nerves, which can be extremely painful and can severely restrict movement in your neck. There is also the risk of damaging the arteries that pass through your neck and which deliver blood to the brain. If they are put under too much pressure, it could lead to a blood clot forming.
How to break the habit
For a lot of people, cracking your neck or other joints is a habit. It’s something that a person has been doing for many years, and like all habits, will take some time and effort to break from. One thing that you will need is willpower, and the acceptance that you have to break the habit.
If you are aware that you are constantly cracking your neck, then the first thing you need to do is to speak to a doctor. You might have a misalignment of your neck or spine, and this is what is causing you to constantly crack your neck.
If this is the case, then it might be worth visiting a local chiropractor, who will be professionally trained and experienced in putting pressure on your bones and joints, and aligning everything as it should be.
Correct your posture
One reason that a lot of people may feel pressure on their neck is due to their posture. If you are someone who is sitting in front of a computer screen everyday, then you will probably have noticed that you are not moving your neck much at all and simply keeping your head still and facing forwards.
It’s a good idea to take a break from sitting in front of the screen, and stepping back and taking a short break for a few minutes. You could walk around the office and stretch your leg muscles, as well as do a little stretching of your neck and shoulders. Try looking side to side for a minute or so, which is a great way to get your neck muscles working without putting too much strain or pressure on them.
Examine how you sleep
If you are using a soft pillow, or one without proper support, this could be causing you a problem with your neck and the surrounding muscles, which may ultimately be leading you to have the urge to crack your neck.
Having proper support for your neck when you sleep is very important, and a lot of the time, switching to an orthopedic pillow can really help the situation.
Are you overdoing a workout or other activity?
Another factor that could be causing you pains in your neck could be related to your general fitness regime. Are you at the gym everyday, or constantly playing sports or other physical activities? Maybe you are simply overdoing things and pushing yourself too far.
It might be worth holding back on your regular workouts for a short period of time and see if that has any effect on your neck and the feeling of pressure and the need to crack your joints.