Snap, Crackle & Pop: Not your morning cereal!

Joint noise may be just that—noise!

WAC Personal Training Coordinator is smiling as she leans with one shoulder against a wall.By Michelle Payne (née Fogg), Personal Training Coordinator

Client: “Michelle my wrist keeps popping!”

My response: “Does it hurt?”

A very common question trainers get asked is why a joint is making a particular noise.

Joint cracking can be loud and unsettling. It might also make you feel uneasy doing a particular exercise or movement. It is not surprising that people think there is something wrong with their joints when they hear them snap, crackle and pop.  Rest assured in most cases it is a normal, common occurrence.

Creaking joints might be annoying, but usually there is nothing to worry about. That “cereal” noise you hear is the result of a change occurring at the joint or muscle and tendons. The popping noise is crepitus, a naturally process in which built-up gas bubbles pop in your joints. If the cracking is accompanied by pain or swelling, you may have an injury that requires treatment. This would be a good time to see a doctor. If it is not painful, joint noise is OK.

Different motions and exercises affect different joints. Squatting motions are more likely to produce noise in your knees and ankles, while bench pressing is more likely to make your elbows crackle or pop. It is important that your muscles and joints stay strong—regular exercise is the key to this. Vary your workout routine to achieve a balance in strength, flexibility, and proprioception. Exercising regularly keeps your joints healthy!

And remember, motion is key to smoother joint movement. The more you move, the more your body lubricates itself.

—Posted July 21, 2021

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