Knuckle cracking isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

By Roberto Lachner

   For countless years, teenagers and adults alike have religiously done one specific action that many say can be harmful: Cracking your knuckles. Most people are under the assumption that knuckle cracking is bad for you and can lead to serious problems revolving around your wrists and hands in the distant future. The question is, are these problems actually factual, and does cracking your knuckles cause any harm to your body.

Alice Looney’s knuckles

   This old wife’s tale has been told for years on end, but recent research may prove that this action may be less catastrophic as it’s currently described. According to Harvard Health Publishing “Cracking the knuckles is probably harmless. Although there have been occasional reports of dislocations or tendon injuries from overly vigorous knuckle cracking, such problems seem very much to be the exception and not the rule.” The research shown in this article was supported by an experiment a California physician performed over his lifetime.  The article states that “Over his lifetime, he regularly cracked the knuckles of only one hand. He checked x-rays on himself after decades of this behavior and found no difference in arthritis between his hands. A larger study came to a similar conclusion.” This experiment effectively demonstrates that a lifetime of hand-cracking does not lead to dangerous events for everyone’s future. The final experiment produced for this article was a group of three-hundred people, some who cracked their knuckles, and some who did not. The goal of the experiment was to test the grip strength of those who did crack their knuckles, as well as the indication of arthritis. Among the three-hundred people in the experiment, seventy-four people regularly cracked their knuckles, and those people showed weaker amounts of grip strength in comparison to the remaining two-hundred and twenty-six people, who’s grip strength was normal to above average.  The interesting statistic found in the experiment, however, was both groups of people showed the same incidence of arthritis, nothing between the two was differing in that regard.

   Cracking knuckles will forever be referred to as a bad habit, but as more and more research begins to surface, this old wife’s tale may have just read its final chapter.


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