It’s arguably my worst habit. I started when I was a small child. It makes some people feel sick when they see it or hear it. It’s not a habit normally associated with a small and relatively feminine woman, more the trait of a large, muscled gangster giving his knuckles a good pop before beating your head in. However, it is my habit, and I have now had it for well over twenty years.
It isn’t just fingers, either. My snappy-cracky-poppy routine (ok now I’m beginning to sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies) includes sides of neck, base of skull, shoulders and shoulder blades, lower back, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and toes. I have a serious problem.
The key to changing a habit is first to want to change, and then commit to the 30 days it takes to break out of established routines. The sticking point is that I don’t want to. Cracking feels A M A Z I N G. In fact, I think my neighbours probably imagine I’m getting much more action than I’m actually getting (i.e. none), just due to the orgasmic noises a good crack can create in me.
It makes me feel relaxed before going to sleep, and flexible upon waking up. Its a gorgeous way to ssssttttrrrreeeetcccch out when you’ve been sitting still for too long. It’s a release of tension and a satisfaction almost exactly like that of popping bubble wrap, except within your own body.
Actually the bubble wrap analogy is more accurate than you realise. The snapping sound is caused by the rapid separation of your joints causing a gas bubble to form in the synovial fluid between. If you’re not too squeamish about it, watch a video of a cracking knuckle under a fluoroscope here.
It’s relatively safe, too. It might disgust people, but it’s a myth that cracking causes arthritis. There was a study done that showed a tentative link between cracking and swelling of hands/ weakening of joints in the long term, but it doesn’t seem to have affected me, nor my father, who cracked until the day he died (and never developed arthritis either).
I also personally think that doing it regularly has helped me stay flexible. I can attest to having a finger bent all the way back with a football at school and not breaking (bloody hurt though), and I put this down to the springiness of my ligaments due to persistent cracking.
On reflection, I think the habit is too entrenched now to even try to change it. It’s fun and provides stress relief, and I try not to do it in public, so why not? It may mean I’ll always end up sleeping alone, however. I think it’s probably a relationship deal-breaker for a lot of people. Argh, that’s a sobering thought. I know how to make myself feel better though.
C R R R A A C K.
What’s your worst habit that you have no intention of giving up? Comment below (clean stuff only please, we don’t want to know about your self-love habits) as I’d be interested to hear!