On occasion, the joints in our bodies make a variety of noises such as popping, cracking, clicking, clunking, or creaking. This can happen when we stand up, complete exercise or simply when turning around. Often, these noises can be loud and regular which is why it is understandable that people sometimes assume that something is wrong, or it could be damaging to our bodies. This is simply untrue.

Although these noises can be annoying, most of the time this is completely normal and nothing to worry about. The main consideration is that as long as there is no constant pain, swelling or new trauma associated with the joint noise then everything should be okay. It should also be noted that these noises do not lead to degeneration of our joints or implies something is ‘out of place’.

So why do our bodies make these noises?

Different noises may indicate a variety of structures in our bodies. Some common noises heard are described below.

  • Clicking or snapping – a single noise at a certain part of a movement is likely to be tendons moving over or within a joint.
  • Clunking – a single noise at a certain part of a movement probably indicates structures trying to find an optimal position within the joint.
  • Creaking – this can feel or sound like a creaking sensation within the joint which can be due to lack of lubrication. Therefore, movement is required. Remember motion is lotion. 
  • Popping or cracking – if this is spontaneous or through manipulations, this is the compression and release of nitrogen bubbles that naturally occur in the joint spaces. If the popping or cracking is associated with trauma and swelling, then this is more likely to be a soft tissue or bony injury and seeking a medical professional is advised.

Most of the noises we hear are during movement or exercise. This does not mean it is harmful for our bodies. In fact, the opposite is true and many forms of movement, whether this is walking, swimming, or working out in a gym can be beneficial for our joints and surrounding muscles. Our bodies are very strong, and these sounds should not make you fearful to move. Here at RU Active Sports and Rehabilitation Centre we can answer any of your questions or queries in order to help you achieve your movement goals and keep you doing what you love!