If Your Joints Crunch When You Stand All of a Sudden, Here’s What’s Going On
Your body has a lot of different ways of communicating that something is wrong—like muscle and joint pain, or soreness that lasts longer than the standard two days. But what, exactly, is your body trying to tell you when your joints make a concerning “crunching” sound every time you stand? According to a stretch pro, while it’s likely no big deal (phew!), it is a sign that your muscles need some extra TLC.
Usually, joints crunching or cracking simply means that there are air bubbles in between our bones that release as we move. This happens more as we age because the collagen that surrounds these areas starts to wear away. And there’s also another phenomenon at play: “When thinking about the causes of ‘crunching,’ we can start by looking at our tendons,” says Jorden Gold, the chief stretch officer at Stretch Zone. “Tendons are like elastic bands in that they link muscles to bone and stretch over our joints, so a common cause of snapping or cracking around a joint is due to tendons running over the bone or moving back into their original position, or even tight muscles causing bone friction.”
The “crunch” sound occurs when your tendon moves across the joint quickly, then snaps back into place. “They’re like guitar strings: The tighter they are, the more noise they make,” says Gold, who adds that he frequently sees this happening in people’s knees and backs.
Though the noises may sound freaky, they’re generally nothing to worry about as long as they don’t come along with any joint pain. According to Gold, all it means is that you need to stretch. “If you want to prevent your joints from popping, the best prevention is to stretch, or to get stretched at a practitioner-assisted facility,” he says. “Stretching the surrounding muscles of your joints is a great way to mitigate muscle tightness and keep your joints lubricated, which in turn, stops the pop.” So, for example, if your knees are crunching every time you stand up, treat your hips, quads, glutes, and hamstrings to some juicy loosening movements. That said, it’s important to pay attention to the area that’s crunching, and if any pain or swelling does arise, check in with a doctor or physical therapist.
In addition to lubricating your joints, Gold notes that stretching will also help to boost your energy, improve your posture, and increase your flexibility, so spend some time wringing out your body on the mat for the sake of your muscles, joints, and everything in between.