Back in the 80’s the common conception of what health and fitness was were leotards and muscular men in tank tops at the beach, though people understood how important it was to stay healthy and fit it was something that was out of the norm. As the years passed by trends and norms, more ailments and medical conditions have been found and more and more people have started to engage in physical activities in an effort to stay healthy and avoid the troubles that these conditions may bring. Gyms have become more populated with people working out and lifting weights, joggers have become more common and yoga has become something both men and women have been participating in. People have found ways to fit these activities into their daily routines going to their favorite track or hitting the gym before or after work.
The pursuit of health and fitness is ideal for people who want to stay in good shape. It does not however come without risks, at times we may find some obstructions to our physical activities in the form of bodily ailments. Our joints which are stressed on a day to day basis are vital parts of our body that are often neglected. These joints can get overworked, get worn out, or even damaged while working out. While some who have higher pain tolerance are able to work through the pain as long as it is still bearable for them, others however find it hard to continue with their physical activities especially when the knees or ankles begin to hurt. These pains are most commonly caused by overuse injuries stemming from repeated stress to the joints and should not be disregarded. Other than pain a cracking or popping noises when walking, running or even when standing up may also be a symptom of damage to the affected joints.
Before we smile at their predicament, it might be prudent to consider that this can be quite unnerving – especially if it doesn’t stop. After all, it can be worrisome to constantly hear unusual sounds coming from parts of the body that in our experience typically don’t – and the question then next becomes whether or not they’re working properly. Nevertheless, doctors typically reassure us that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the knee joint if we hear crackling and popping – these usually aren’t indicators of a problem, especially if there’s no pain. Plenty of joints in the body can crackle and pop, and as long as pain and swelling are absent this tends to not be a big issue.
Why do my knees crackle? It doesn’t hurt so it may not be bad right? These questions haunt those who experience knee noises and the answers to the question lie in the knowledge of how the knees work. The knees are joints, joints are a system of cartilages and tendons which link the bones allowing us to move our limbs on a day to day basis. The link between the upper and lower leg bones are our knees which support the movement when we jog or run, they absorb the shock when we walk, run, jump, even when we lift weights our knees play an important role by supporting the weight. The cartilages in the joints are uneven surfaces that may rub against each other causing pain and produce a popping sound. Although the rubbing of surfaces against each other is part of its normal functionality It should not be something that should worry us. Ligaments connect our bones to each other which tighten as they are stressed, they at times cause a crackling sound when they do and as earlier is normal and should not be something that should worry us.
If the crackling and popping noises however are accompanied by pain and swelling and becomes frequent even when only doing light work, you may have to be concerned as if they are not attended to further use of the joints may cause more damage that would prevent us from performing basic things such as walking or jogging rendering us immobile. These things are caused by a lot of things that we should be familiar with.
Cartilage wear – though as mentioned earlier cartilages make popping sounds when we move and the surfaces glide against each other, they also make similar sounds when they are damaged and is accompanied by sharp pain. Damage or wearing out of the cartilage may also cause an inflammation in the affected area. Cartilages commonly reduce the friction between bones when we flex or bend the joints and when damaged this basic action may cause a lot of pain and is followed by inflammation. Over-use thins the cartilages and is represented by a grinding feeling when moving and crackling sounds when we move the joints.
Meniscus tears – the meniscus is a c-shaped disc found in the knee that acts as a shock-absorber for the joint. It prevents the bones from rubbing against each other making movement more fluid. Applying too much pressure or overextending the knee which is common when engaged in sports can tear the meniscus preventing it from functioning.
If in any case you experience pain or swelling in the knees accompanied by sounds coming from the joint, it would be a good idea to see a doctor at the soonest to identify the reason and immediately act on it. Although there are a lot of home remedies available it would still always be best to seek professional advice as continued use of the joint without proper treatment may lead to further damage.
So how do we avoid knee pain that comes with crackling and popping sounds from the knees?
Make sure to warm up before exercising. While we all aim to stay physically fit through exercise some disregard the importance of a proper warm up and jump the gun. Warm-ups are a way to prepare our joints for the strenuous activities ahead. Working out cold muscles and joints is one of the leading causes of injury and joint damage.
When warming up, focus on flexibility. Use dynamic stretches that allow the muscles and joints to explore a full range of motion. After working out, use static stretches as a cool-down. This will help prevent injury while still allowing them to establish a wide range of motion.
Watch your weight. As we have said our knees support our weight through various activities, less weight means there is less to support and stress to the joint is easier distributed to the muscles when we move. This reduces the risks of over-use injuries and help us keep our knees strong and healthy.