Ever been worried about those cracking noises coming from your joints when you move? Concerned that “overuse” is going to lead to “wear and tear”? Think that osteoarthritis is an inevitable result of getting older?
Let me ease your fears!
There’s NO evidence that exercise wears out your joints
One study, conducted at Stanford University in 2008, looked at nearly 1,000 runners and healthy non-runners over 20 years. It demonstrated that regular runners have no greater risk of arthritis in their knees than active non-runners. A further study, from the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism in 2007, suggests that vigorous exercise results in thicker, healthier knee cartilage – thus protecting from arthritis.
It’s normal for joints to click
When it comes to those awful cracking noises – again, don’t be fearful. Pain-free clicking or cracking is not a sign of developing damage, wearing out cartilage, or imminent arthritis. The sound isn’t bone grinding against bone, and moving these joints isn’t going to cause damage. In fact, there’s some evidence that cracking or clicking on movement is the sign of joint health, rather than joint damage. A joint, such as your knee joint, is enclosed in a bag that’s full of fluid. Movement changes the pressure inside the bag, and can cause the formation and collapse of gas bubbles (a bit like popping bubbles when you open a bottle of fizzy drink). The bubbles are the source of the noise – even though it can be quite loud! In fact, knees that have arthritic changes tend to have less of this effect, probably because there is less fluid and less movement in arthritic knees. So, your popping knee is a sign of its good health!
The message is, activity is good for your joints. It’s what they’re designed for. Keep them moving now, they’ll keep you moving for years to come.