Why Your Joints Crack And Pop When You Exercise

Why Your Joints Crack and Pop When You ExerciseImage: iStock

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]


    Two key issues with this article:

    1) Cover image is really poorly chosen. Behind the neck lat pulldowns can put your shoulders in a highly vulnerable position for rotator cuff damage - potentially causing the clicking you're describing due to shoulder impingement! Antiquated version of the movement.

    2) Clicking in these joints, particularly the shoulder, can be a sign of impingement, either due to tightness or poor form. If you're noticing this behaviour regularly, better to get a fitness professional or physio to take a look at what you're doing and determine whether you need to alter your form, or add stretching and strengthening of supporting muscles to your routine. May not hurt initially, but repeating an incorrect movement is a recipe for disaster.

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