Here’s something many are guilty off: Cracking their knuckles for that much needed release of tension. "There’s not any hard science to explain why it’s so addictive, but certainly people speculate it’s one of these activities that releases nervous energy,” explains Rachel Vreeman, MD., assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine "They find it to feel good or comfortable, or it even gives them some physical release,” she adds.

But while the act can feel good, here’s something you need to know: Sure, popping your joints (whether via pulling each fingertip one at a time or bending your fingers backwards) may not cause arthritis, but it can still do some damage. A study from the John Hopkins’ Arthritis Center found that knuckle cracking tends to injure the ligaments surrounding the joint, can cause dislocation of the tendons (or the attachments of muscles to bones), and can reduce your grip strength.

Want to rehab your knuckle-cracking ways? Try these tricks:
1. If you feel the need to start popping, try diverting your actions to punching your other hand or fanning out your fingers.

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2. Keep your hands busy by twirling a pencil, taking up a hobby (that involves your hands, of course, like calligraphy or crafting), or using the rubber band method.

3. Try stretching your fingers or making a “close and open” motion with your hands to lessen the stiffness.

Photo: Mike Dee

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