Are you hearing popping and cracking noises every time you bend your knees?
Chances are, your muscles and connective tissues probably just need a good stretch.
Why Do My Knees Crack?
Tired of sounding like Rice Krispies in milk whenever you stand or sit? Cracking and popping in the knees can be the sound of fluid getting pushed about or it can be something more serious involving bones and connective tissues.
Cavitation occurs when joints move and the synovial fluid changes pressure, releasing carbon dioxide bubbles. This is common and no cause for alarm.
Some people may also feel a grinding sensation in the knees when squatting; if it doesn’t hurt, it’s known as benign crepitus.
If you experience knee pain when sitting or squatting, however, there may be more going on.
Crepitus (the non-benign kind) occurs when cartilage rubs against the bones and tissues in the joint, eventually wearing the cartilage and causing pain upon movement, often a precursor to osteoarthritis. Strain or injury to the knee joint can result in tears in the meniscus (cartilage) or patellofemoral pain syndrome—pressure build-up behind the kneecap. These conditions should be reviewed with a medical professional.
To ease the harmless but sometimes disconcerting creaks in the knees, here are six stretches you can do to loosen and strengthen muscles and connective tissue to reduce the sound effects.
Six Stretches To Get Rid of Knee Popping and Cracking Noises
1. Calf Release
This exercise uses pressure to relieve muscle tension in the calves. Remember that all muscles in the body are connected to one another—calf muscles join the upper part of the leg at the knees.
Sit on the floor with a tennis or other firm ball under the top of the left calf. Lay your right leg on top of your left, crossed at the ankles. Place your hands flat on the floor however they feel most comfortable. With weight on your hands, roll your calf forward and back over the ball. If you find a tender spot, stop rolling and flex your left foot back and forth for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat as necessary.
2. Hip Flexor Release
Sometimes knee discomfort can be caused by a misaligned hip or tight hip flexor muscles in your pelvis. Releasing these muscles can bring relief all the way down your leg.
Tape or wrap 2 tennis balls together and place on the floor. With upper body weight on your hands, lie face-down with the balls just below the left hip bone, allowing your lower body to rest on the balls. Bend your left knee up to a 90° angle and slowly swing it from side to side for 30 seconds—stop if the knee hurts. Repeat with the balls under the right hip and as necessary.