The sound of knee cracking is perfectly normal, but it can still be disconcerting. Did you know that regular exercise and training are needed to help strengthen the leg muscles and are critical to alleviating the knee cracking sound? You may hear occasional pops, snaps, and crackles when you bend or straighten your knees, when you walk, or go up and down the stairs. Knee cracking is painless for most people and could come from multiple sources. Doctors call this crackling Crepitus, which happens for various reasons, apart from osteoarthritis. Here are some of them:
Over time, gas can build up in the areas surrounding the joint, forming tiny bubbles in the synovial fluid. When you bend your knees, some of the bubbles burst. This is normal and happens to everyone from time to time, and it does not cause pain.
The ligaments and tendons around the knee joint may stretch slightly as they pass over a small bony lump. As they snap back into place, you may hear a clicking sound in the knee.
Size of Your Kneecap
Everyone’s body is slightly different. Your knees may flex more than another person’s, or your kneecaps may move more freely. This might mean that your knees could be noisier than the next person’s.
Again, there are other reasons such as degeneration, injury, or previous surgery that could cause noisy knees. If this is a cause of concern to you, see your doctor or a specialist to determine what your best treatment path should be.
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Tips On How To Protect And Get Rid Of Cracking Knees
Regular Exercise: Weight Training, resistance training, or bodyweight exercises (like squats or lunges) should be a part of your routine fitness plan.
Warm-up before training: Muscles should be warmed up before your workout. Try a low-impact machine like a bike or elliptical. Start slow, begin to get those joints moving, and warm up those muscles!
Stretching: Stretch your front and back thigh muscles regularly. We have three stretches listed below that are perfect for alleviating cracking knees.
Comfortable shoes: Find shoes that are appropriate for the activity that you’re doing and that fit your foot correctly.
Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight or obesity puts an exponentially higher strain on the functioning of your knees and joints. Obesity is also an established risk factor for the development of arthritis of the knee joint, so getting to and maintaining a healthy weight should be your first objective if cracking knees are an issue.
Stretches For Cracking Knees
You can do stretches to help with knee cracking, and you don’t even have to break a sweat! Here are three great stretches to get you started:
1. Foam Rolling
Place the foam roller on the floor and place your front quads on top of it.
Make sure you don’t go over your kneecap.
Move up and down slowly the entire length of the quad muscle, finding tight spots. Let it sit for a moment on the thick parts of the thigh so it can work deeper into the tissue.
2. Deep Squat Stretch
Sit in a squat position (if necessary, you can do this in front of a wall for additional balance or support).
Hold the squat position for about 30 seconds, focusing on your core, glutes, and ankles to stay balanced.
3. Quad Band Stretch
Laying on your stomach, get a band and wrap it around one foot.
Pull the band over your shoulder, leading your foot to move towards your glute area.
Once your front quad feels a stretch, hold for about 45 seconds.
Exercises For Cracking Knees
Now that you’ve done your warm-up and stretching, let’s perform the following exercises for cracking knees:
1. Static Lunge
The purpose of the static lunge is to reduce tension in the knees by stretching the thigh muscle. This can also be considered a stretch, but for the purposes of exercise, it can be done at a faster pace to get the heart rate up.
How to do a static lunge:
Start standing up.
Take a small step forward with your right foot, and then take a half step back with your left foot.
Without moving your feet, lower your rear leg until your knee almost touches the floor while bending your front leg.
Keep your upper body aligned and abs contracted.
Stay in this position for 20 seconds, and then switch legs.
2. Walking Lunge
Just as with the static lunge, the walking lunge works to strengthen the leg muscles as well as the core, hips, and glutes. The stronger these muscle groups are, the more pressure they will take off your knees. By adding the “walk” to the static lunge, you will also be progressing through a workout to get your heart rate up and burn calories. For an added challenge, you can also hold a set of dumbbells while doing the walking lunge. However, if you want to keep that added pressure off of your knees, perform this exercise with no additional weight.
How to do a walking lunge:
Step forward with your right leg, putting the weight into your heel.
Bend the right knee, lowering down so that it’s parallel to the floor in a lunge position.
Pause for a beat.
Without moving the right leg, move your left foot forward, repeating the same movement on the left leg.
3. Deadlift With Dumbbells
The deadlift exercise works to strengthen the hips to reduce the load on the knees. This exercise can be performed with or without weight, depending on your fitness level.
How to do a deadlift with dumbbells:
Pick up a pair of dumbbells with an overhand grip and hold them in front of your sides
Stand with your knees slightly bent, and your feet placed shoulder-width apart.
Bend at the hips and knees, lowering your torso until it’s almost parallel with the floor.
Allow your arms to hang down in front of your knees and shins.
From this position, stand straight, squeezing your glutes as you straighten upward, pushing through the ball and heel of your foot.
While there are additional stretches and exercises you can do for cracking knees, these are a perfect set of 3 stretches and 3 exercises that are perfect to consistently add to your routine.