November 14, 2008 10:13 PM   Subscribe

How do I stop cracking my knuckles? Along with every other joint in my body?

Whether it's harmful or not, I would like to stop. All my cracks are SO loud, and I crack my knuckles about once every 2 minutes, usually without even realizing it until I am done.

Here are all the things I crack and how I crack them:
- Knuckles. Usually without realizing it. I do it more often if it's cold, if I'm nervous, if I am typing/gripping onto something.
- Neck. Once an hour or so. It just feels SO SO good, and once I start thinking about how good it'd feel to crack my neck, I pretty much have no self control.
- Back. Every 15 minutes. In various spots - all down my spine and the side to side twist that cracks something near my lower spine/hips. Makes my back hurt less.
- Knees and ankles. They crack on their own (not me wanting to crack them!) when I get up after sitting for a while. It's pretty terrible, as soon as I get up it's like 5 cracks with the first few steps.
- Toes. When I'm at home just chilling barefoot.

Any tips on how to stop all this?! From having the self control to not crack my neck, to helping my back not hurt and not feel the need to be cracked (would a chiropractor help?), to realizing that I am cracking my knuckles before I finish cracking all of them, to fixing my joints so they don't crack on their own when I get up or bend my knees.

Has ANYONE ever been successful at stopping? Seems like it'd be harder to quit than smoking. Any tips will be appreciated!

Oh, and after looking at other posts about this - I do work out, I don't think my muscles are weak. And besides, my knuckles and fingers are the WORST of everything, so working out wouldn't fix that, I don't think. I need more behavioral/will-power tips for that.
posted by KateHasQuestions to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I was an obsessive knuckle-cracker until about a year ago. I cracked my knuckes constantly, probably every 20 minutes or so. It started as a temporary relief of tension in my joints, but then it just became a habit that needed to be broken. I put a note on my computer at work to remind me not to do it, and after about 3 weeks I stopped. Now I only do it about 2 times each day, which I'm OK with.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:24 PM on November 14, 2008

You could try the elastic band trick. Put one around your wrist and snap it to give yourself a bit of a zap every time you crack something.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:18 PM on November 14, 2008

oh my goodness, did i post this?? i am a religious cracker. huh, reading that sentence out of context may stir up other thoughts...but anyway.

I kind of go through phases of more cracking and less cracking. How old are you? I was SO bad in high school and college, and I have sort of grown out of it, I guess. I have found that when I am under more stress I crack more. I also have a really bad habit of biting the skin off the inside of my mouth...I know it sounds really sick and horrible, but it is sort of the same as cracking any joint in my body, I think. See if you notice any other obsessive habits. I have several others, but as long as they don't interfere with my everyday life or with my happiness I let it go.
posted by junipero at 11:44 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

I used to be terrible about knuckle cracking in high school, I'm still pretty bad about neck and back cracking. Its a tough habit to break - for me, back cracking feels like a string of happy fire crackers.

What has worked most for me is to be conscientious of my posture, and taking breaks to stretch when I'm at the computer/on the couch etc. If I am mindful of my posture and gently stretch regularly, it becomes very difficult to crack my joints.
posted by Orrorin at 3:32 AM on November 15, 2008

The hand/wrist stretches I learned in my Aikido classes pretty much cured me of knuckle cracking.

This video and the related videos on the sidebar might be worth a shot.
posted by Orrorin at 3:38 AM on November 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding the rubber band around the wrist trick. That's how I stopped biting my nails. You'll learn to dread the coming snap to your tender wrist!
posted by cdmwebs at 6:59 AM on November 15, 2008

Response by poster: I'm 23. Been cracking knuckles since I was 8, possibly younger. Every other joint is more recent (last few years). Is that relevant?

And the post about biting the inside of your mouth... I totally bite the inside of my cheeks too, just the top skin layer that doesn't hurt. I never even noticed I did that until I read that post, and of course, I was biting at the time. Great, now I'm aware of another bad habit.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 9:34 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: What has worked for me is to put a band-aid around my index finger (I crack my fingers in series, starting with the index). The sticky-note and rubber-band methods don't work for me because I crack while my concentration is on something else and I barely notice I'm doing it. But the texture of the band-aid is different enough from the texture of my skin that it gets my attention and stops me.

This "works" in that it gets me out of the habit for awhile, but it always seems to come back eventually. I think I'll try to adopt the stretches Orrorin posted as a daily habit.
posted by [user was fined for this post] at 9:42 AM on November 15, 2008

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