Crack is not so bad.

Forcefully pushing valuable bones in your body until you hear and feel a ‘pop’ sound does not sound too healthy. Unfortunately, I am a knuckle cracker. Honestly, before I began to type I had to crack my knuckles just from the thought of it. I recently made a knew friend who cracks his knuckles even more than I do, which led me to this topic. Advice and common sense tells me that this is probably a terrible habit to continue, but I still do it every day, several times a day.



Scientific processes within the body lead to the cracking. Tina Saey refers to the process as cavitation, where as Every Day Health call it tribonucleatioin, but the name is not too important for the sake of this argument. According to Saey and Every Day Health, when you make your bones separate, it makes a space and then you hear the crack. I achieve this by sticking my finger out and pushing it towards my wrist until it cracks. I’ve seen people pull their finger straight out, or curl their finger and push down on the joint.

There are many different claims of the long term side effects cracking your knuckles can have. Perhaps the most trivial supposed side effect is enlarging your knuckles leading to an unpleasant appearance of your hands. Allie Firestone references a study that proves this to be true. She says that over time, people who crack their knuckles have a higher chance of having bigger hands. A minor impact cracking knuckles has been proven to have by Jorge Castellanos and David Axelrod is reducing grip strength. A link to the pdf of their full study can be found here . Arthritis is the other claim that is a lot more scary. One study by Kevin DeWeber  surveyed people 50-89 years old and did not find a causal link between cracking knuckles and causing arthritis. Unless this result is a false positive, this is great new for me because I can continue to crack my knuckles without fear of it catching up with me later in life in the form of a painful disease. Cracking my knuckles is not as bad as it seems.

For some people, cracking knuckles may need to be a habit worth kicking. Cracking my knuckles is mentally satisfying, so it is worth the minor risks. Over time, I probably will not even notice if my hands get bigger, and it is not 100% that they will increase in size. I do not think my grip strength needs to be extremely high in everyday life, but of course I would not want to lose it all together. I imagine I will still be able to function perfectly fine with a slightly lower grip strength that I once again, may not even notice. Knuckle cracking is an overall okay habit.

10 thoughts on “Crack is not so bad.

  1. Grace Anne Walker

    I play the piano so when I was younger and used to crack my knuckles I would get yelled at saying my knuckles would swell up and I would not be able to play anymore. Most of my friends seem to crack every single thing in their body which amazes me because I can only crack my knuckles and my back. It seems like its painful to crack everything but now I realize that its just a habit and causes no serious damage besides swelling. Also, I loved your post title because it drew me into your blog! Here are some tips if you want to stop cracking your knuckles!

  2. John Rutledge

    First off, I love the title. Its funny and clever. And cracking knuckles I always knew wasn’t good for your body, but I also heard that the results of doing it are exaggerated. All in all, I always did it to be rebellious and because it was very satisfying.

  3. Annalise Marie Pilitowski

    I have always been on to crack my knuckles. I do it constantly ever single day. In fact, someone told me when I was younger that knuckles can be “rechecked” every 30 minutes. After being told this, when I was in school I would always crack my hands and look at the clock and then wait the 30 minutes and then crack them again. I haven’t had any problems with cracking my knuckles and I hope it says that way because cracking my knuckles has become a habit of mine. Ive even cracked them while writing this comment. Here is an article that talks a little bit about a study that proves that cracking knuckles is actually good for you.

  4. Francis Patrick Cotter

    This post may benefit from explaining the mechanism for knuckle popping in order to explain its effects. According to Harvard Health (, the popping sound that occurs is due to bubbles bursting. This happens in the synovial fluid which is responsible for lubricating the joints as Harvard Health explains.
    It can then be inferred that lessening the effects of the synovial fluid would be unhealthy for your hands, regardless of whether or not the action causes arthritis.

  5. Jen Malespina

    I don’t crack my knuckles but I have seen many people that do and have always wondered whether it would affect them later in life. There is such a negative connotation associated with knuckle cracking, it is surprising seeing that it is really not that bad. You should check out this article, it takes a positive look at this topic, differing from the usual harsh, critical outlook:

  6. Casey Patrick Brennan

    First off very creative title. I never knew that cracking knuckles could lead to one’s hands becoming bigger and having a different appearance later on life. I have heard of the arthritis claims, but I don’t believe its ever been truly confirmed. Here is an article about a man who cracked his knuckles on his left hand everyday for 60 years, and didn’t crack his right hand at all. He showed no signs of arthritis.

  7. Hannah Marie Helmes

    I remember when I was a kid, my parents would tell me that I would get arthritis if I crack my knuckles. That did not stop me.. Probably because I was 10 and I didn’t really know what arthritis is. I still crack my knuckles on the time . I would like to look more into why we crack our backs and crack our necks and if that is beneficial or harmful. I find the Chiropractors very interesting because they’re actually not real doctors and considered an alternative form of medicine. If you would like to read about the differences between doctors and chiropractors, read this article:

  8. Ashton Blair Pinter

    Thanks for the article, I found it very informative. I personally crack my thumbs overtime before I start to write. It helps my hands more loose. I was awaiting the part in your article that would talk about cracking leading to arthritis. I would definitely say that the results from the study are a false positive because of friend of my Moms says he got arthritis from cracking his knuckles. Something I crack more than my thumbs is my back. I am curious if there is a health risk from constantly cracking my back. In a video called “Is Cracking Your own back BAD?” a doctor explains that it is in fact not bad. Cracking your back just creates more mobility.

  9. Mansi M Patel

    I crack my knuckles and have noticed an increase in finger/hand size! I was wondering whether or not this was correlated for so long. It hasn’t necessarily deformed my appearance enough to make me kick the habit altogether, so I agree that since it is mentally satisfying, it is worth it. I am pleased to know there are no completely negative side effects of doing this.

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