You've probably felt your joints crack or pop when you exercise. There are a few reasons why this happens, but unless there's pain or swelling, you have nothing to worry about. Here's why.
Some of that popping is crepitus, a natural process where gas bubbles pop in your joints. You may also hear cracking or popping sounds as your cartilage loses its smoothness. When this happens, your bones and tissue make more noise as they rub together.
However, if the sound comes with other symptoms, it could be more than crepitus. For example, if you notice that the cracking sound happens when you lock your knees, you may have a meniscus tear. If it's painful, it could be arthritis. If you have either of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.
If this cracking noise happens while you're squatting at the gym, you may be going too low. You put excessive stress on your joints (almost eight times body weight) when your hips are below your knees.
Ask Well: Noisy Knees [The New York Times' Well blog]