Is it bad to crack your knuckles?

February 24, 2006 at 05:48 AM · Is it unhealthy (particularly from a violinist standpoint) to crack your knuckles?

After all, isn't that just what a chiropractor does to a patient's back?

Does anyone have any personal experience? Any useful information?

Replies (100)

February 24, 2006 at 07:22 AM · I'd say don't ask anybody that, except a medical doctor. Chiropractors aren't medical doctors either... I'm sure some people will take exception to that, sorry, but it's true. Don't flame the messenger.

Everybody will have their own 'take' on it, which would include accounts from family members, or what they've read, or even experienced first hand.

I'll tell you myself, I've cracked my knuckles all my life. My father is an MD and he told me it's all a bunch of wives tales that cracking knuckles causes arthritus. He's over 80 now and he also cracks his knuckles. I love the other argument of cracking knuckles causes large knuckles. Hee hee that's a good one;)

Anyway, don't take my word for it, ask your doctor.


February 24, 2006 at 10:31 AM · True that taking medical advice over the internet is a bad idea, but I was informed by the best British orthopaedic consultant that cracking any joint releases the negative pressure, so it's actually a good thing. He might be wrong, but I'm going with his line until I hear differently.

I think we're probabl told it's bad for you because it's so annoying.

February 24, 2006 at 11:19 AM · Traditionally, it all depends during what part of the piece you are playing you decide to do it. Much also depends upon the timing, and the rhythymic background; it is especially bad to do during a largo or adagio, but might be perfectly acceptable in a tarantella, for example, or during a piece involving castanets. But don't let anyone try to make you believe, as some may, that it is a valid substitute for pizzicato.

February 24, 2006 at 11:29 AM · I just cracked my knuckles and looook whatt iit didd tooo mmy typinnnngg.

February 24, 2006 at 01:34 PM · I used to crack my knuckles quite a lot. I found that it made them more free. If i left it for a while I found that they would get stiff after a while.

Now, I spend about 20 minutes each morning, listening to some nice music, and spend have about 10 minutes on each hand with some Chinese Health Balls. There was a rather long discussion about these once, and I decided to get them. I've noticed already that my hands feel free all day, and I have no desire to crack my knuckles. Plus it's a nice little settler before I start my day :)

February 24, 2006 at 02:12 PM · Didn't George Crumb wite a piece with knuckle cracking? wasn't it called 'ancient knuckle cracking of children'?

Actually I heard that the popping sound comes from synovial fluid bursting where the bones meet.

February 24, 2006 at 02:16 PM · Chinese Health Balls!

I use them also. They are great.


February 24, 2006 at 02:23 PM · My first finger has been hurting all night and all's never felt this way I popped it just now, and it feels a lot better.

(wonder if it has anything to do with practicing for four hours yesterday...and finishing my last half hour with fast smear- and minor chord- filled jazz...)

February 24, 2006 at 03:03 PM · It's a bad habit because it's rude...not sure about being time I went to a funeral home service and this guy across from me wouldn't stop popping his knuckles...that was about the time I started to not do it quite so often...

February 24, 2006 at 04:14 PM · I was asking purely for health reasons. I didn't know it would be considered rude! But, I guess see I how it could be.

February 24, 2006 at 04:00 PM · Hmmmm... I've also heard that cracking your knuckles doesn't cause arthritis. However, maybe it's a bit like sticking your finger in your belly button- I mean, we've all been TOLD that your finger won't go into your guts, but WHO REALLY KNOWS??? I don't want to find out the hard way and besides, it's gross to do it in public. So, err on the side of caution, I say, and don't crack your knuckles, especially on stage.

On a more serious note, I'd be willing to bet that playing the violin for even a short time is probably worse for your joints than cracking your knuckles, unless you do the latter for four or five hours a day. When you think of the kinds of forces that the hands experience during a practice session or performance, it's amazing that we can do it at all, let alone do it for six or seven decades.

February 24, 2006 at 04:22 PM · I crack just about everywhere: neck, knees, elbows, knuckles, back, rib cage (not joking) and it feels GGRRREEEAT!

After all, if it feels good it can't possibly be bad! ;-)


P.S. I too asked my doctor years ago about cracking knuckles and he said it's not bad, it's just stuff your mom tells you to make you stop.

February 24, 2006 at 06:31 PM · I like the sound it makes when I pop them against the neck of my amplifies the lower part of the pop just a little. (How do you pop your rib cage?)

Occasionally, I pop my jaw, and I don't intend to, since it kinda hurts. I told my dentist it happens maybe a few times while eating or talking during the same week, roughly two or three months between it doing another series of pops...she had never heard of this before, so I began wondering if a popping left jaw is something that many violinists (or right, for lefties) experience?

February 24, 2006 at 07:56 PM · Ok this thread stops here, anymore talk of 'popping' and im gonna pop a cap in someones a##. Cracking knuckes and stuff is sick, it makes me cringe, go away

February 24, 2006 at 08:48 PM · Can anybody else here pop their big toe? :)(without using your hands).

I also tend to pop in all sorts of places, often without any intention...

February 24, 2006 at 08:59 PM · stop. please.

February 24, 2006 at 09:06 PM · "Can anybody else here pop their big toe? :)(without using your hands)."

Yep, I can do it with my other toe. It's really quite simple.

Sorry John, you don't have to use this thread...

February 24, 2006 at 09:29 PM · Oh ya, I forgot about my toes...I crack all of them!

And my jaw...

Rob, I don't know how I began popping my rib change but it's more like that small knobby point right between the upper pectoral muscles. I just push one shoulder back and the other forward and twist. Feels goooooood!


February 24, 2006 at 09:24 PM · EW! You guys are disgusting! I can't stand the crack of knuckles! Ekk! *runs away to the fruit punch snapples*

February 24, 2006 at 09:25 PM · presumably everyone on this thread is on crack?

February 24, 2006 at 09:28 PM · Stephen, from the response this board has gotten within the past hour, I would say don't try it in public...stick to doing it at home! It grosses everyone out, or at least annoys most of them anyway,...

I'm not ON crack, just crackING of these days your jaw will pop while you're eating...or worse, while you're talking...and you're going to hurt really bad...that's what happens if you pop your jaw too much...and I'm only 19...

February 24, 2006 at 09:31 PM · Oh Rob, you're still wet behind the ears in terms of jaw popping. I'm 24 and I've been doing it since I was at least 10.

*grins evily at all the squeemish people*


P.S. Just don't start talking about open wounds or operations...I'll pass out.

February 24, 2006 at 09:33 PM · uh..."Wet behind the ears"?

What do you mean?

Maybe I have some weird sort of jaw disorder that they will discover my mom and I are the only ones who have it, and they will call it Schnautz's Jaw Popping Disorder.

February 24, 2006 at 09:35 PM · "Schnautz's Jaw Popping Disorder"


"wet behind the ears": Young, inexperienced etc.

February 24, 2006 at 10:18 PM · I can click my big toes just by scrunching all my toes up! Gross huh.

Oh and my jaw clicks too, possibly related to my appauling posture and rubbish chin rest.

February 24, 2006 at 10:23 PM · *cracks neck*

Shall I describe my past knee surgery Preston? :-0

February 24, 2006 at 10:35 PM · *heave*

February 24, 2006 at 10:46 PM · None of my joints will pop, even if I try.

February 24, 2006 at 10:52 PM · I pop my big toe against the ground, and occasionally I can pop my shoulder, like how the other dude said. I am fourteen, and have managed to lose the habit of cracking my knuckles.

February 24, 2006 at 11:24 PM · you crack me up people. no crack intended.


February 25, 2006 at 02:48 AM · Now I'm not pointing any fingers, but it seems to be a joint force of people who crack their knuckles. But you've just got to hand it to the people who can pop n joints where n is high in the double digits.

thritis = new word for clock.

Now I'm not sure what your thritis is telling you now our-thritis is telling us to go to bed.

February 25, 2006 at 03:00 AM · Was that too obscure?

I'm all thumbs

when it comes to puns.

February 25, 2006 at 03:02 AM · it's about time we joint forces and cracked our knuckles.


February 25, 2006 at 03:03 AM · or rather joint forceps


February 25, 2006 at 08:54 AM · I might try cracking my knuckles during a col legno passage. Same sound yeah.

February 25, 2006 at 09:35 AM · You weird people...

February 25, 2006 at 09:40 AM · I recently discovered that I can crack my ankle...

February 25, 2006 at 11:32 AM · it's about time we singled out all the knuckleheads and all the crackheads.


February 25, 2006 at 02:52 PM · My goes sort of reddish-pinky at the thought of the awful ring of puns I just posted. Perhaps we should keep an index on everything we say? Hey, I'm just trying to strike middle ground somewhere!

Ilya, I can crack my knuckles and my back, but how do you crack your head? I mean, of course, without the use of a blackjack.

Perhaps, I am just too boneheaded to understand.

February 25, 2006 at 05:32 PM · Yep, cracking the ribcage is most gratifying. The loud pop feels so good. The cracking achieved by pulling my big toe back, inside the shoe, comes a distant second. Knuckles and neck pale in comparison.

Robby, you probably have shades of TMJ.

Cracking joints was never my thing, just an addictive habit. :-)

February 25, 2006 at 05:35 PM · LOL

The google ad that flanks this thread (at the moment anyway):

"Habit Busting - Break any habit"

February 25, 2006 at 05:53 PM · You guys are sick

February 25, 2006 at 06:00 PM · Um... Aside from being able to pop all my fingers, I can pop both my knees.

Feels great! After popping my knees, I almost feel as if I can bend them either way! :-)

My joints generally seem to loosen up after a bit of cracking. But I don't want to do it everyday.

I agree with people who think that "if it feels good, it can't be bad." However, I also believe that there's such a thing as "too much of a good thing."

Like, um, well... most basic body processes ^___^

February 25, 2006 at 06:15 PM · John,

We're not sick. Just a bit cracked.

February 25, 2006 at 06:21 PM · Stephen has created a real mayhew around here


February 25, 2006 at 09:41 PM · A real what? :)

Yeah, sometimes we get letters to Mr. Mayhem.

February 26, 2006 at 10:25 AM · hi, this is a little off the topic, but seeing as though the thread is about fingers, does anyone know how it is to play witha healed broken finger? does it affect your technique? I'm considering giving up playing netball,in case of breaking fingers, but i dont really want to if it's not necessary

February 26, 2006 at 10:33 AM · Busted finger no problem. Just play on.

February 26, 2006 at 02:25 PM · And the busted finger played on...

The Knucklecracker.

February 26, 2006 at 05:21 PM · Jim, that is not entirely true. Sometimes the broken finger will not "set" exactly 100% in the correct position where it was previously, causing incredible difficulties in playing. I know, this happened to somebody I know who broke her finger...months of physiotherapy and the finger is still stiff and is a bit skew, making good intonation impossible.

Sorry to say, but if you think you risk breaking a finger in netball, and you are very serious about your violin (and it's more important to you than netball) then find another sport that you enjoy equally!

February 26, 2006 at 07:31 PM · Well, I didn't mean it to be entirely true.

February 26, 2006 at 07:50 PM · I broke a toe once and the bones fused together funny when they healed, so it doesn't bend at the base joint anymore. I'll never be able to play the violin with my toes now.

February 26, 2006 at 07:53 PM · Seiji Ozawa started out to be a pianist but loved to play soccer. He knew he should give it up, so he decided at some point "OK, just this one final game." At that game, he broke both his index fingers (I think he was goalie), and a career as a pianist was impossible.

Ask around. Everybody has stories of people they know, or friends-of-friends, whose promising career was ended by a sports injury. IMHO each person has to decide for him/herself how important the sport is, vs. how important playing the instrument is.

February 26, 2006 at 08:12 PM · It's always the "OK, just this one final..." that gets you.

February 26, 2006 at 08:56 PM · Greetngs,

and how many not quite famous baseball players are there out there who lost there pitching ar to an excess of Kreutzer?

Sad thought



February 26, 2006 at 11:20 PM · "...and the finger is still stiff and is a bit skew, making good intonation impossible."

This shouldn't cause bad intonation. It's just a matter of retraining yourself if that happens. One of my previous teacher's fingers are very crooked from arthritis and she continues to play perfectly in tune.

Good intonation has VERY little to do with ones fingers. It has nearly EVERYTHING to do with ones ears.


February 27, 2006 at 12:35 AM · I played 5 concerts with a broken left collar-bone once. ouch.


P.S. I didn't know it was broken at the time. All in your head?

February 27, 2006 at 01:25 AM · Greetings,

it can be done but a proper violin sounds better,



February 27, 2006 at 01:35 AM · tehe

February 27, 2006 at 01:51 AM · Buri,

it was YOUR collar-bone.


February 27, 2006 at 03:26 AM · Greetings,

that`s why these days I only use my funny bone,



February 27, 2006 at 11:03 AM · Preston, I don't know about your teacher, but I can promise you that it would be impossible to play quickly with crooked fingers (unless they are all equally crooked or something!) purely because the finger "groups" are completely irrelevant for that finger. You would have to adjust your hand every time you play that finger, just to get it in tune, and then adjust back, and that takes some is not impossible, of course.

February 27, 2006 at 01:40 PM · Hey, Seiji Ozawa turned out pretty well, even though he cracked his knuckles pretty badly.

The moral of that story is that you shouldn't let a soccer ball crack your knuckles...

February 27, 2006 at 03:02 PM · Larry,

You're looking at it from the perspective of someone with straight fingers. Of course if the finger is horribly damaged and very crooked that's a different story, but f someone with a finger that is slightly crooked (as is the usual result of a break) it's not that they have to adjust every time they put it down. It's just relearning the distances.

It's like saying someone who breaks their ankle which makes their leg slightly shorter will never be able to climb stairs or run because the distances aren't normal. No, they just have to relearn a bit.


February 27, 2006 at 03:28 PM · Preston, ok I forgot to mention that this person's finger was permanently tilted a little upwards at the last phalange (joint) at the top on (I think) their third (violin) finger. It is this tilting upwards that caused the major problem. And lack of flexibility in that joint too. Let's just say that in their circumstance it made playing violin again normally a very difficult task...

Anybody here want to compose Concerto for People Cracking Joints and Orchestra? hahaha

February 27, 2006 at 09:21 PM · In general one's health is at considerably more risk when one cracks other people's knuckles (unless of course this activity is engaged in by two [or more] consenting adult violinists in the privacy of their own bedroom or practice room).

February 27, 2006 at 10:52 PM · Greetings,

is `adult violinist` an oxymoron?



February 28, 2006 at 02:27 AM · who is in for a knuckle-cracking orgy?


February 28, 2006 at 02:58 AM · I'll host!

February 28, 2006 at 03:36 AM · Wow...I thought this was a music site...count me in Ilya!

February 28, 2006 at 04:08 AM · we can put some music on...


February 28, 2006 at 05:17 AM · Sounds tempting...

February 28, 2006 at 05:24 AM · I thought this was going to involve chix. Count me out!

February 28, 2006 at 05:53 AM · I'm with Jim ... ahhh I mean about the chix part ... not in any other kind of way ... I mean I'm sure he's a nice guy an' all, but ... well you know.

Who wants a beer?!?! SPIT!


February 28, 2006 at 06:43 AM · Just knuckes Ilya?


February 28, 2006 at 06:55 AM · I don't know you well enough Preston. I am afraid knuckles will have to do for now.


February 28, 2006 at 07:10 AM · No second position for Preston.

February 28, 2006 at 07:39 AM · O don't worry, Ilya comes cheap. Throw in a Musafia case and he'll crack anything you want while humming Glazounov.

February 28, 2006 at 02:46 PM · Wow. And the kids on Neopets think I'm funny...I'm cracking up as I read what's been posted since my last post on Friday.

February 28, 2006 at 10:35 PM · HAHA!

February 28, 2006 at 10:38 PM · Pieter,

Yes, there must be a piece of rosin inside that Musafia please. Thank you. And maybe a set of strings, the cheapest kind, I am not fussy.


March 1, 2006 at 12:34 AM · I think you should also get a mute in the case. A big rubber mute. A humidifier is also a must. Oh, and a picture of Jack Benny.

March 1, 2006 at 12:46 AM · Wow we're talking Ilya and rubber? I can't leave this site for a minute can I!?

March 1, 2006 at 02:42 AM · Get a job.

March 1, 2006 at 03:58 AM · We do... it's our job to be FABULOUS!!!

March 1, 2006 at 09:07 PM · Oh, no! Schnautz's Jaw Popping Disorder kicked back in this morning!

Maybe it has something to do with that heart disorder--Anderson's Syndrome-- my whole family (all the descendants from a set of great-grandparents down) is going to be tested for this month...I'm nervous about it...but it'll be like a family reunion!

What does the humidifier do...regulate the humidity, or measure it?

March 1, 2006 at 09:53 PM · Isn't Antal's pinkie broken? Sure doesn't sound like it, but I think it should be x-rayed.

March 1, 2006 at 10:53 PM · Does anybody else here always register "mafia" when they see the word Musafia?

And also Mustaffa (the Arab name...)

It's like half between Mafia and Mustaffa hehe.

And we all know that all Mafia members have to have a machine gun hidden inside a violin case, so why not a Musafia violin case! :P

March 1, 2006 at 10:57 PM · I always carry a piece of baklava in my Musafia


March 2, 2006 at 07:22 AM · Wow, this discussion is SO warped hahaha

March 2, 2006 at 08:33 AM · hahaha Ilya!!! I love that word too!! (baklava) Reminds me every time of balaclava!! (and I thought it was just me) I assume that's what you are joking about LOL.

Are there any other "dodgy" words that you guys like?

March 2, 2006 at 08:39 AM · No Larry, I really do think he meant baklava. He likes everything to be sticky... I heard a rumor that he rosins his strings so that a puff of powder sails into the air dramatically when he plays in front of the audience. It makes him feel alive.

March 2, 2006 at 01:35 PM · Pieter,

I resent that. Factually I use liquid soap for my strings to give my slides more vibrancy. Baklava is just for my piece of mind. If there is no baklava at hand, I put a piece of pashmina instead.


P.S. I need a new shipment of arab words. ASAP

March 2, 2006 at 02:06 PM · no one answered my question...does the humidifier measure or regulate humidity?

March 2, 2006 at 02:19 PM · humidifier humidifies



March 2, 2006 at 02:30 PM · Ilya,

Arab words???

Pashmina is hindi/urdu...

March 2, 2006 at 03:38 PM · thank you. baklava is not arab either. i guess i better start using smileys before i start world war 3


March 2, 2006 at 03:40 PM · A hygrometer measures humidity

March 2, 2006 at 03:41 PM · yes smilies are a good thing. :)

March 2, 2006 at 04:19 PM · In conclusion: *crack*

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