Does cracking your knuckles make your fingers fat: Does Cracking Your Knuckle Increase Your Likelihood of Arthritis


Does Cracking Your Knuckle Increase Your Likelihood of Arthritis

Snap. Crackle. Pop!

Many people wonder why their knuckles and joints pop when stretched. The answer is actually quite simple; the popping sound you hear when you crack your finger knuckles or other joints is due to a something called cavitation. Cavitation occurs when a sudden space is opened within the joint, creating a negative pressure which draws in fluid to fill.

It should also be mentioned that as people age they may find that their joints naturally make popping sounds from time to time when they are rising up from a seated position or in the process of sitting down. The cracking and or popping sound is often linked to tendons snapping over tissues as they adjust their glide path. 

Cracking Your Knuckles, may be Annoying, but is Not harmful

For many years people have asserted that cracking your knuckles will make them fat or give you arthritis. Studies, however, have consistently shown that cracking your knuckles does not improve or harm your joints. There is no proven link between arthritis of any kind and cracking your knuckles.

There is one thing that you should be aware of though, if the cracking causes pain, then you may have legitimate cause for concern. An injury to a joint, even a severe sprain, can make you seven times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in later years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, osteoarthritis affects an estimated 27 million people in the United States alone. Osteoarthritis is associated with damage due to ‘wear and tear’ as well as injuries to joints, bones, tendons and ligaments.

Additionally, some patients who have tendinitis or bursitis say that they do notice more frequent cracking sounds around inflamed, often painful joints. This is due to an underlying abnormality caused by joint damage. The tissues are swollen, which causes interference with their motion that may become audible.

Neither osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis are caused by cracking your knuckles. That is not to say that you should allow other, untrained people to crack your back or your neck. The chance of someone pushing a joint or tissue too far and causing injury is very real.  They are more likely to use brute force without any real skill and can easily cause severe damage to your spine.

Bottom line, painlessly cracking your knuckles is not likely to cause any form of lasting damage. If you have questions about old injuries, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, knee, hip, shoulder or spine injuries, joint replacement surgery or would like more information about sports medicine, please call Dr. Jeffrey Carroll at Movement Orthopedics. Dr. Carroll has the advanced orthopedic training and surgical experience you need to get to and stay at, the top of your game–both on the field of glory, and in the game of life.  Please call us today at (586) 436-3785 or request an appointment online.

What Really Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles

“Don’t crack your knuckles!” Most of us have heard that admonishment from our elders at one time or other regarding the so-called dangers of knuckle-cracking. Somehow these hidden dangers would provoke me to secretly crack my knuckles, even if it was to just hear that loud noise.

We have pondered what happens when knuckles are cracked for decades. In fact, since the 1940s, studies have been done on this very topic. Since then, two schools of thought emerged. One group of researchers initially concluded that joint cracking occurs when the two bones close to one another are stretched to a critical point where the cracking occurs. Subsequently, this leads to formation of a cavity within the joint due to the negative pressure resulting from the stretching. Several decades later, this view was challenged by another group. They proposed that the actual cracking is a result of the collapse of bubbles in the joints.

Why Knuckles Crack

So what really happens when we crack those knuckles? A group in Alberta, Canada, recently set out to explain this phenomenon from a more modern scientific point of view. In their recently published article in PLOS One, Gregory N. Kawchuk, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Alberta evaluated the events that take place inside the finger joint when a knuckle is cracked.

They studied one candidate who allowed all 10 of his knuckles to be imaged via an MRI. The fingers of the test patient were connected to a device which essentially cracked his knuckles. This was all captured on MRI, and on video:

Essentially, the research found in favor of the earlier school of thought. When a joint is cracked, the opposing bones that form the joint are stretched to a certain critical point. Enough negative pressure is formed inside the joint to cause the cracking sound and create a cavity. This cavity occurs as a result of the quick separation of the joints, causing dissolved gases in the joint fluid to emerge. What’s taking place is called tribonucleation. After cracking, the joint will remain in a refractory (or resistant) state for approximately 20 minutes, during which you are usually unable to crack the same knuckle again.

It’s Okay to Crack Your Knuckles Unless …

First and foremost, you may not have to feel so guilty for occasionally cracking your joints. This group found that right after cracking, the joint space is not altered in any way, whereas previously it was thought that by cracking your joints, you increased the joint space. Occasional knuckle-cracking shouldn’t have any major ramifications. The finding that the joint rebounds back to its normal position after knuckle-cracking supports this.

However, people with underlying inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, have vulnerable, often fragile joints due to the underlying inflammation in the joint synovium. In this group, repetitive knuckle-cracking may potentially place them at higher risk of injury and pain.

Cracking an Age-Old Myth

There is no evidence that knuckle-cracking will lead to arthritis. However, you should be aware that part of getting knuckles to crack entails the gliding of tendons past one another. Whenever there is excessive repetitive activity in the tendons, the risk of inflammation also increases. Therefore, if you are looking to pick up a new hobby, knuckle-cracking should not be at the top of your list.

How to Protect Against Joint Damage

There is a strong association between trauma and later joint damage. Trauma can lead to degenerative arthritis in the joints. The best medicine we can practice now is preventive. Joint protective techniques can help maintain your joints in great shape. Scientists have found hormonal compounds released from fat cells that can increase arthritis risk. Therefore, maintaining your weight in a normal BMI range is one crucial joint-protective measure. Another is to quit smoking. Cigarette smoking leads to a very specific biochemical reaction (citrullination) that may predispose some people to rheumatoid arthritis, so if you haven’t already, KICK the habit.

Knuckle cracking: Annoying and harmful, or just annoying? – Harvard Health Blog

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Knuckle cracking is a common behavior enjoyed by many. It can become a habit or a way to deal with nervous energy; some describe it as a way to “release tension.” For some, it’s simply an annoying thing that other people do.

If you’ve ever wondered why stretching the fingers in certain ways causes that familiar noise or whether knuckle cracking is harmful in some way, read on. Despite how common it is, there has been considerable debate regarding where the noise comes from. Fortunately — at least for those of us who are curious about it — knuckle cracking has been the subject of a fair amount of research.

Here’s some of what we know about knuckle cracking

  • The “cracking” of knuckle cracking seems to be produced by increasing the space between finger joints. This causes gas bubbles in the joint fluid to collapse or burst. It’s a bit like blowing up a balloon and then stretching the walls of the balloon outward until it pops.
  • The reason you can’t crack the same knuckle or joint twice right away is that it takes some time for the gas bubbles to accumulate again in the joint.
  • Cracking the knuckles is probably harmless. Although there have been occasional reports of dislocations or tendon injuries from overly vigorous knuckle cracking, such problems seem very much to be the exception and not the rule.

How do we know that knuckle cracking is harmless?

One of the most convincing bits of evidence suggesting that knuckle cracking is harmless comes from a California physician who reported on an experiment he conducted on himself. Over his lifetime, he regularly cracked the knuckles of only one hand. He checked x-rays on himself after decades of this behavior and found no difference in arthritis between his hands. A larger study came to a similar conclusion.

There are rare medical reports of problems associated with this behavior that may relate to how much force is applied and one’s particular technique. For example, joint dislocations and tendon injuries have been described after attempts to crack knuckles. One study published in 1990 found that among 74 people who regularly cracked their knuckles, their average grip strength was lower and there were more instances of hand swelling than among 226 people who did not crack their knuckles. However, the incidence of arthritis was the same in both groups.

And a new study created a mathematical model of a knuckle that helped confirm that the noise comes from collapsing gas bubbles.

What about other sounds coming from the joints?

The origin of most joint noises, such as popping sounds or cracking of the knees when squatting, is uncertain. They may come from the kneecap rubbing on the bones below, or a tendon sliding across an irregular surface. However, in the absence of pain, swelling, or other joint symptoms, these sounds are probably nothing to be concerned about, and there is no reliable way to silence them.

The bottom line on knuckle cracking

If you want to crack your knuckles, it’s unlikely to cause you harm. But if you want someone else to stop cracking their knuckles, you’ll need a better reason than telling them they’re ruining their joints.

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

Don’t crack your knuckles, you’ll get arthritis, they said. Your knuckles will get fat, they said. Maybe you’ve recited it yourself as a concerned friend, or maybe a co-worker has fed you the myth in a pseudo-polite tone to get you to stop your incessant cracking. The truth of the matter, though, is that cracking your knuckles is completely harmless. “They” (your mom or grandma, or whoever said it) were all wrong.

The cracking noise you hear is actually just the air bubbles in your joints popping.

“All joints have a normal range of motion they can go through,” Nader Paksima, D.O., clinical associate professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center and surgeon at the Hand Center, tells SELF. When you push your knuckles, you can make them go just a little further beyond that normal range of motion. “You’re stretching the lining of the joint. The ligaments have a little bit of give to them, so there’s some degree of stretching you can do,” Paksima explains. There’s also some fluid inside the joints to keep them lubricated. Inside the fluid, there are dissolved gases, like nitrogen and oxygen. “When you push your joints beyond normal range, it creates a temporary vacuum inside. The pressure decreases, which allows the gas to come out of the liquid and form a small bubble.” The “crack” or “pop” you hear is that air bubble popping.

Cracking obsessively may lead to ligament damage, but still no arthritis.

If you habitually crack your knuckles all the time, over time it is possible it could cause problems in the ligaments between your joints. “Continuously stretching your ligaments beyond where they’re supposed to go can create sprains and you can get degenerative tears over time,” Paksima says. “So moms are partially right.” But this concern is really for people who get obsessive about it and do it over and over again every day—and no matter how much you crack, you’re not going to give yourself arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, happens when the cartilage tissue between the bones wears away and the bones start to rub together.

We get the urge to crack simply because we know it feels good.

Just like stretching a stiff neck, cracking our knuckles feels really good sometimes. “When a joint hasn’t moved in awhile, it gets stiff in that position,” Paksima says. “Once you bring it to that maximum point of motion and it cracks, it loosens things up.” Cracking can also just become a habit, which is why you usually have to go through all 10 fingers instead of stopping at one. It just wouldn’t be fair to all your other pent-up digits, now would it?

Posible Side Effects & 10 Easy Ways to Stop Knuckle Cracking Habit

Knuckle cracking habit is surely addictive but not exactly flattering. Many people like to pop their fingers or crack their knuckles – and yes, it becomes a habit. The fluid that surrounds the joints has air bubbles in it. When the knuckles are cracked, the bubble inside the fluid burst which cause snapping, or other annoying sounds. It is believed that popping of joints can lead to joint problems or arthritis. There is no evidence to prove that it is extremely bad, but it does annoy people around.

What Is Knuckle Cracking And Why Are People Addicted to it?

Knuckle cracking sound is audible when joints are stretched. It sometimes gets embedded in the lifestyle and turns into an addiction. It gives a feeling of satisfaction when the bones get realigned, and the urge for knuckle cracking is as natural as scratching. The synovial fluid in the joints has nitrogen as a dissolved gas in it. When the joints are stretched, a small bubble forms which create an audible crack when the bubble collapses. The same joint can be cracked after the refractory period when the gas forms in the joints again. The cracking of the knuckles provides relief when pressure is released from the joints.

What Are the Dangers of Knuckle Cracking?

Knuckle cracking is done deliberately and routinely to manipulate, mobilize, or adjust the joints. Knuckle cracking and hand osteoarthritis are closely related. There are some latent dangers of cracking knuckles which are as follows:

  • It may lead to joint problems or knuckles cracking arthritis.
  • Repetitive and intentional cracking triggers pain in the joints.
  • An abnormality can occur in the structure of the joints like injured ligaments or loose cartilage.
  • Habitual popping can lead to dislocated fingers, overstretched ligaments, swelling in the hands, or poor grip strength.
  • Continuous cracking of knuckles can create a possibility of joints to crack because of the loosening of the synovial membrane.

Simple Tips to Quit the Habit of Knuckle Cracking

Some people do realize that cracking of knuckles is a habit they should get rid of, or their friends and family members do convey their annoyance frequently. There are some simple steps to follow which can help in outgrowing this habit.

1. Engage Yourself in a New Hobby

Drawing, art, craft or writing are hobbies that you can inculcate to keep your hands and mind busy and engaged in your spare time. This will not leave you with any time to think about cracking the knuckles and hence you won’t.

2. Use Behavioural Therapy Techniques

If you sincerely want to give up the habit of knuckle cracking, then you must adopt either positive or negative behavioural therapy. It can either be a positive therapy with a reward for restraining the urge or a negative therapy by punishing yourself for not being able to restrain yourself when required. These techniques will surely help you in giving up the habit.

3. Keep Your Hands Occupied

Knuckle cracking is sure to ring in some harm and so you must try to train your hands to learn a new skill. This will improve manual dexterity, finger strength and coordination in your attempt to learn to twirl a pencil or coin just the way magicians do. It can prove truly good as mastering a new skill requires concentration and practise.

4. Adopt the Rubber Band Behavioural Method

A classic way of stopping yourself from cracking your knuckles is adopting the single behavioural method. You need to wrap a rubber band on your wrist which when pulled back and released will snap into your skin. The sting of it will remind you to break the habit as the pain can be associated with knuckle cracking. We know this method is a little mean but if you want to give up your habit, you will have to take extreme measures.

5. Resort to Other Preventive Methods

The cracking habit can be curbed by some other ways too. One option can be rubbing lotion on your hands. Keep the lotion handy so that the slightest urge should remind you of it and in turn, the hands will remain moisturized and soft. The second option is to tape your fingertips to your palm so that it makes a fist. You can cover your hands with socks while watching television or when you relax. Another option is to keep a pencil or pen in your hand so that you do not start cracking your knuckles.

6. Be Aware of the Habit

Knuckle cracking is done automatically as a nervous habit, and so it is more obvious to the outsider than the person who does it. You can ask a friend to give a gentle reminder so that whenever you crack your knuckles, he will remind you.

7. Avoid Nagging the Person

Nagging or complaining is not the right way to make a person give up the cracking habit. It will only make it worse. The nervous reaction to the complaint will build stress, and so gentle reminders would be more appropriate.

8. Provide a Support System

Understanding and dealing with knuckle cracking can be much easier with a touch on the arm when a person notices the cracker unconsciously cracking knuckles. Friends and family members can play a supportive role to help a person give up the habit.

9. Find Out the Source of Anxiety

As knuckle cracking is a nervous habit, the source of stress should be identified so that the stress does not trigger the habit. Stress can be due to social acceptance, relations with parents and peers, or upcoming exams. Try to identify the graph when the urge is high by noting it in a small notebook which can really help the person.

10. Give It Some Time

Patience is an antidote which can help a person who is trying to give up the habit of cracking the knuckles. It is harmless, and once the person realizes that he should give up the habit, the person needs to be given some time to break free.

The habit of knuckle cracking should be addressed at the earliest. When the gases present in the fluid are suppressed, a bubble forms and bursts which causes the popping sound when knuckles are cracked. When this process is well understood, you may be able to give up the habit easily.

Also Read:

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What Really Causes That Popping Noise When You Crack Your Knuckles?

Tales of terror about what happens when you crack your knuckles began, at least for me, with an annoyed third-grade teacher. Tired of the boys (it was always the boys) disrupting class with constant, digit-popping fusillades, she tried to dissuade us with predictions that we were inviting golf-ball sized joints, the inability to bend our fingers, or even arthritis.

Having a grandmother who suffered mightily from that affliction, I was haunted by the vision of impossibly gnarled hands, and with them the inability to pick up a baseball bat or open a letter. But the act was so satisfying that I ignored the scare tactics.

The cracking continued, and along with it speculation as to what actually caused the sound. Playground theories were abundant. Was it tearing cartilage? A bursting gas bubble? Maybe the friction between the bones that somehow, for some reason, broke the sound barrier?

We finally have an answer. And to the surprise of nobody, all of our elementary school hypothesizing wasn’t even close.

(Not only will knuckle-cracking not give you arthritis, but drinking wine may actually prevent it. Get more info on The Weirdest Health Benefit of Drinking Wine.)

In a study published last month, a team of scientists led by Greg Kawchuk, a professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta, took an unprecedented look at knuckle-cracking in action. They asked a colleague, who Kawchuk describes as “the Wayne Gretzky of finger-cracking,” to put his hand inside an MRI scanner. Then they filmed it while pulling on the end of each of his fingers, just enough to make it crack.

Check out the video above to see the results.

What does that reveal? “Our study shows that the sound production is happening at the same time as we see the creation of a black void in the joint,” says Kawchuk. “This suggests the sound is associated with the formation of this void rather than the collapse of the void.”

In other words, there’s not some small gas bubble in your knuckle that pops when you squeeze it, like biting bubble gum. It’s actually the creation of a space within the knuckle, and begrudgingly.

There’s a word for it—and it’s a beauty. It’s called “tribonucleation”.

As it turns out, your knuckles don’t like being forced apart. They fight the pressure you exert on them until reaching a joint point of no return, where they then “separate rapidly creating sustained gas cavities.”

In a way, when you crack your knuckles, you’re giving your fingers a case of the vapors. (Kawchuk likes that comparison. “That’s a great way of saying it,” he says.)

(Related: Is It Bad That My Knees Crack When I Squat?)

The long-term consequences of continued cracking are still being studied, but Kawchuk believes there’s been enough research to suggest “that knuckle cracking is not detrimental. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s beneficial either. My advice is to not worry about cracking your knuckles unless those around you find it repulsive. In that case, show restraint and be a responsible cracker.”

I’ll continue to tribonucleate with a clear conscience, the only consequence being mild annoyance of those around me, and taking satisfaction in lasting defiance of third-grade hysteria.

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Hand Techniques in Finger Cracks: Locker Finger Cracks

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Crack Climbing: The Definitive Guide, by Pete Whittaker. Available January 1, 2020!

Finger cracks are one of the most fickle sizes, as a small variation in crack or finger size can make a big difference in difficulty. Just one millimeter larger or smaller can be the difference between a move feeling easy or impossible.

Imagine a thin crack. Two people walk up to the route. One is a ballerina and one is a lumberjack. The ballerina has hands as thin as paper and fingers the width of matchsticks. The lumberjack has hands the girth of a tree trunk and sausage-like fingers. The ballerina climbs and dances up the rock, fingers locking and jamming with ease, whereas the lumberjack can’t fit a single sausage inside the crack and topples like a felled tree. Now, if we were to widen the crack by a few millimeters and again take our two climbers, we would find that our ballerina’s fingers would rattle inside the crack and she would have to use more difficult techniques to make them stick, whereas our lumberjack’s fingers would lock and jam easily. With finger-width cracks, very small changes can make a big difference.

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The thought of sticking your body’s smallest digits into a crack, twisting them in ways they haven’t evolved to twist, and then pulling your body weight up on them, obviously makes people queasy and dislike this type of climbing. Fair enough! However, with the correct techniques, finger cracks can be climbed with relative ease.

Locker Finger Cracks

The dreamy finger jam: your fingers should sink, seat, and twist into the jam like a key in a lock. They will be buried inside the crack up to the base of your fingers and the jam will feel good.

Thumb-down jam: index finger

powerful jam, active twisting jam

As this is an active movement jam it can be used to great effect on complete splitters where there are few constrictions to passively jam between. (Remember when inserting a body part into a crack to always look for constrictions to jam passively first.)

1. Orient your hand into the thumb-down position (index finger and thumb towards the ground, pinkie finger towards the sky), pointing your elbow out to the side away from the center of your body. The back of your hand should be facing towards you, as if you were saluting someone.

2. Bend your hand, at the wrist, away from you so the tips of your fingers are now pointing towards the crack. Because you are bending from the wrist and not the knuckles your fingers should be relaxed and able to move freely. They are also in their thinnest orientation.

3. Insert your fingers into the crack up to their base, with your thumb on the outside of the crack.

4. Flatten your palm and forearm against the rock face; this creates a small amount of expansion in the finger pulp of skin at the base of your fingers.

Figure 2. Thumb-down jam: index finger. Illustration by Alex Poyzer.

5. Imagine there is a metal rod running up your forearm and through your wrist (so that you cannot bend or flex the wrist). Keeping this rigidity through the wrist and forearm, rotate your elbow and forearm down and in line with the crack. It is important to keep your forearm and palm close to the rock. If they move away from the rock, you will find yourself pulling out on the jam and not down. An outwards pull will negatively affect the quality of the jam, most likely forcing you into the dreaded elevator-door-opening technique (gastoning/backhanding the edge of the crack).

6. As you rotate with your elbow, your fingers will start to twist inside the crack (clockwise, if jamming with your right hand, anticlockwise if jamming with your left):

— your index finger will bite into the rock

— your middle finger will also bite (but slightly less so)

— your ring finger will gain some friction; however, it is common and correct for it to start rotating out of the crack and to leave it stacked on your front two fingers

— your little finger will come out the crack and should be placed against the crack wall

7. Your hand and forearm will now be parallel with the crack and you are ready to use the jam to move up on the route. When you start to pull up be careful not to move your palm and forearm away from the rock. Pull down on the jam, not out (figure 2).

Thumb-down jam: middle finger

powerful jam, active twisting jam

The same thumb-down jam can be performed but with your index finger out of the crack and your middle finger as the bottom finger in the jam. This can be useful if:

— the crack is ever so slightly too thin to fit your index finger in comfortably (it’s not uncommon for the index finger to be slightly fatter than the middle finger)you have done multiple jams using your index finger and this is becoming increasingly painful

Pinkie-down jam: little finger

powerful jam, active twisting jam

Although this jam has active movements to it, it works much better if you look for constrictions and aim to place it passively. And while there is some twisting involved in this jam, there is not as much as in thumb-down jams, which means that if you don’t find constrictions the jam can be marginal, feel like it is slipping, and be very strenuous to make work. However, if you can find the right spot, it can feel more restful than thumb-down jams—and can often be better than holding a massive jug.

1. Orient your hand into the pinkie-down position (pinkie finger towards the ground, index finger and thumb towards the sky), with the tips of your fingers pointing straight at the crack. Keep your hand relaxed. Your arm will be in line with the crack with your elbow pointing downwards—it is important to remember this and keep your arm in this position.

2. Insert your fingers into the crack, up to their base if possible. Look for constrictions that narrow down to become thinner than your pinkie finger, so that your finger can passively jam. Slide your fingers down into the constriction until your pinkie finger bites.

Figure 3. Pinke-down jam: little finger. Illustration by Alex Poyzer.

3. Whether you keep your index finger inside or outside of the crack will depend on how deep your fingers are inside the crack. As a basic rule, if three or more fingers have been inserted all the way to the base of the fingers, then keep the index finger inside. Also, if the jam is placed passively, this will reduce the need to rotate the wrist (see next step), meaning you can keep the index finger inside. If the jam isn’t placed passively, you will need to rotate more at the wrist and so the index finger will naturally start to twist out of the crack. If only one or two fingers go all the way to the knuckles, then keep the index outside. However, this is a guide: using feel to decide is often the best way.

4. This next part involves a very subtle twisting motion to make the jam work effectively. Being delicate is the key to success with this jam. Imagine placing a key into a “tricky to open” lock: using force and twisting vigorously will not work; you should gently and lightly feel for the best spot until it clicks into place. It is the same with this jam: don’t use brute force and over-twist; wait for it to click into place.

— Flatten your palm against the rock (keeping your thumb outside the crack) and then rotate it downwards. It is important with this jam to rotate from the wrist and not the arm. Your forearm should already be in line with the crack so there is no need to move it.

— Rotating from the wrist will twist the fingers into the crack, making them stick. If jamming with your right hand your fingers should start to twist anticlockwise, and vice versa (figure 3).

Pinkie-down jam: ring finger

powerful jam, active twisting jam

You can also execute pinkie-down jams with your ring finger as the bottom finger (figure 4). The same technique is used as with pinkie-down finger jams, the only difference is that your ring finger is the one biting into the constriction. Your little finger can either stay inside the crack (where it will be of limited use as it is too narrow to passively wedge) or move outside. Keeping it outside the crack will help to emphasize the twisting action on your ring finger. This technique is useful if:

— the crack is too wide for your little finger to jam, meaning it keeps sliding through the crack

— you have done multiple jams using your pinkie finger and this is becoming increasingly painful

Figure 4. Pinkie-down jam: ring finger. Illustration by Alex Poyzer.

Baggy Finger Cracks

A difficult size of jam, in between the security of good finger locks and ring locks. A large amount of twisting force is used with these jams to get enough rotation in the fingers to enable them to make solid contact with the crack wall. They are a bad size and, I won’t lie to you, can cause some discomfort on the joints and skin from the amount of twisting.

Tips Finger Cracks

This jam sits either before, on, or only just past the first finger joint. As you have minimal skin in contact with the rock, tips jams are the most marginal of the finger jam techniques. They can feel awful in the wrong circumstances, however there are subtle tricks which can make even the most impossible moves doable. File those cuticles down and get those chisel tips out as things are about to get thin and every micrometer makes a big difference. The same basic hand positions can be used with this jam as with traditional finger jams: either thumb down or pinkie down.

Ring Locks

The ring lock is a difficult jam and requires practice to perfect it. This is because it entails using two different jams (an expansion jam and a twisting jam) in combination to form the final solid jamming position. The crack will be too wide to get a solid finger lock; even twisting your fingers hard won’t prevent them from slipping through the crack. However, the crack is still too thin to be able to start getting parts of your hand in. You need to start thinking laterally now: fingers and thumb need to work in harmony to make the jam stick.

Finger Bars

The finger bar is another technique for the ring lock size of crack (bigger than baggy finger, but too small to get the back of your hand in). Although this jam can’t be pulled on as powerfully as a ring lock, it is a useful tool for occasions when it is impossible to place a ring lock due to the nature of the crack: for example, if there are other rock features—a side wall or a flare—preventing you from doing so. Finger barring can be a painful technique when you do try to pull on one powerfully as it’s the type of jam that wants to bend your fingers in the wrong direction. Imagine placing your palm on the road and resting the tips of your fingers against the angle of the curb, then getting someone to cycle over the backs of your fingers. Ouch! That may be a bit extreme, but the point is they can be slightly painful even when performed correctly. However, with a small amount of pain tolerance and practice, finger bars can come in useful when ring locks can’t be placed.

Donut Jams

Sometimes cracks can be shallow, so they have no depth into which you can sink your fingers. (This is sometimes referred to as a box crack). Or there can be lots of little constrictions on the edge of and inside the crack; these can lend themselves to a unique technique. This technique is the donut jam, which has nothing to do with jam donuts. It’s a reference to the shape your fingers make when performing the jam—a round shape, like a donut. It was made famous by Didier Berthod in the film First Ascent. Didier is seen attempting the first ascent of Cobra Crack in Squamish with a sequence that involves him inserting his middle finger upwards into an undercut mono in the crack in the forty-five-degree wall above him. The donut jam can actually be performed with one, two, or three fingers. (When four fingers are involved it is closer to fist jamming.) Whether you use one, two, or three fingers, the principles are the same.

Pin Scars

Pin scars are artificial features in the rock, a result of aid climbers hammering pegs (pins) into seams and micro-thin cracks. Over the course of years, pegs that are hammered into the rock wear the rock down, expand the seams and cracks, and enable free climbers to fit their fat, callused fingers inside the openings. Pin scars are often more rounded, shallow, and not necessarily as secure as sinker finger locks. Pin-scar-style free climbing is particularly common in Yosemite. Yosemite’s granite is popular with both aid and free climbers, and lots of the free routes follow old aid lines.

Excerpted with permission from Crack Climbing: The Definitive Guide by Pete Whittaker (Mountaineers Books, 2020).

Available now!

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Organized by width of crack (finger, hand and fist, offwidth, and chimney), Crack Climbing covers everything from basics like the hand jam through advanced techniques including the sidewinder and trout tickler. 

To keep you motivated, Whittaker includes interviews with some of the world’s top climbers. Learn from the best, including not only Whittaker but also Beth Rodden, Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold, Barbara Zangerl, Peter Croft, Hazel Findlay, Nico Favresse, and more!

Also available at Mountaineers Books, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound.

Pete Whittaker is widely regarded as one of the finest crack climbers in the world, and is best known in the US as part of the Wide Boyz duo. He has made dozens of cutting-edge first ascents and hard repeats, including the third free ascent of Norway’s Recovery Drink (5.14c) and, with partner Tom Randall, the first ascents of Century Crack (5.14b) and Black Mamba (5.14b) in Canyonlands National Park. Follow him at @petewhittaker01 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Knott’s disease (stenosing ligamentitis)

Stenosing ligamentitis (Knott’s disease or “clicking” finger) is a disease of the hand that is characterized by the typical “snapping” of the finger or fingers at maximum flexion into a fist, restriction of movement, pain at the base of the fingers upon pressure, morning stiffness in the hand. Often occurs against the background of systemic diseases – diabetes mellitus, gout, rheumatoid arthritis.

Typical signs of stenosing ligamentitis:

  • Characteristic click sensation when extending the finger or fingers
  • pain at the base of the finger on pressure
  • The presence of a dense, rounded formation at the base of the toe
  • feeling of stiffness, difficulty in flexing or extending the fingers, mainly in the morning

Allocate 4 degrees of the disease:

1 – pain, periodic snapping

2 – visible snaps of the finger, the finger unbends on its own

3 – visible snaps, you can straighten your finger only with the second hand

4 – it is impossible to straighten the finger even with the second hand


Depending on the degree of the disease, various methods of treatment are used.

At 1-2 degrees, a blockade with hormonal anti-inflammatory drugs is performed, and physiotherapeutic treatment is also prescribed.

With the ineffectiveness of the blockade, as well as with 3-4 degrees of the disease, surgical intervention is recommended – dissection of the A1 ligament at the base of the finger. This operation can be performed in two ways: openly, with a small skin incision, stitches and further dressings, or minimally invasive, through small skin punctures with a needle, without stitches and dressings.

What is needed for treatment in one visit?

Thanks to modern information technologies, it is quite possible to solve many problems in one visit. To do this, you only need to answer questions and send photographs of hands to [email protected] Our specialists will study the information received and draw up an individual treatment plan.

It is desirable to indicate in the letter:

  1. Name and year of birth
  2. Contact phone number and city of residence
  3. Do you have tight subcutaneous bands or deep folds on your palm and fingers?
  4. Do you experience snapping or snapping of your finger or fingers when extending?
  5. Do your fingers go numb (do you wake up feeling that your hand is lying down?)
  6. Can you forcefully extend your finger or fingers with your other hand?
  7. Do you have problems with your arm after your injury?
  8. Have you been operated on before? If so, where and when (it is advisable to send a copy of the discharge summary after the operation, and mark the postoperative scar on the photo of the hand with a marker)
  9. Attach a photo of the hand (top view, side view), it is advisable to indicate problem areas on the hand with a marker or pen
  10. Do you have any chronic diseases – rheumatoid arthritis, gout, diabetes mellitus, etc. P.?

In an arbitrary form, describe the problem (what worries and for how long), to whom you turned for help (what kind of treatment you received and whether it had an effect), what studies were carried out (if any, you must attach copies of medical documents).

In addition, you can simply make an appointment by phone 8 (812) 406-88-88 for an operation for Knott’s disease without answering questions and sending photos. If there are no contraindications, you may also be offered treatment in one visit.

Hand Surgery Center

How to choose a ring according to the shape of your fingers

We all love beautiful jewelry rings, but sometimes we remain at a loss as to why we never got a chance to hear a compliment about “this new one with a diamond scattering” or when we are told in a confidential whisper in our ear that “there’s yours, worn on Masha’s wedding, perhaps, was too much. ” It is with the help of rings that you can either emphasize the beauty of the hands, or completely discourage the desire for a handshake.We propose to start reading our advice, repeating like a mantra the famous phrase of Madame Chanel “hands are a girl’s calling card”, and at the same time take an attentive look at your own.

Thin and long fingers

This would be the envy of any pianist: an elegant brush is a matter of special pride for its owner.

Okay: you can be congratulated. As they say, you can afford both the first and the second, and dessert. Choose any, even the most extravagant, options: rings with large stones, abundant decor and intricate designs.

Forget it like a dream: one “but” will come from us. You should not give preference to rings with a very elongated shape, albeit with a minimalist design. If you want to try on the “iron fingers” that have remained in trends for several years in a row – rings-cases that cover the finger from the base to the upper phalanx, let them be emphasized brutal and in no way pointed. If your fingers are too thin, look into a jewelry store for rings with horizontal decorative elements, preferably wide ones.

Toes plump

Such pens used to be considered a sign of an aristocrat, but do not rush to choose attributes corresponding to this status.

Give the go-ahead: your “friend” is asymmetry, and in any form, but not massive ornaments that make your hand heavier. Choose rings with elements of triangular, diamond-shaped and other unusual shapes. Of course, we will not undertake to completely prohibit you from wearing precious stones – your favorites among them are those that are distinguished by an oval (pear-shaped) and rectangular shape – it is easiest for her to “stretch” a finger.

Forget it like a dream: no stripes, fixtures or horizontal shapes, if you don’t want the optical expansion effect to play into your hands. Also, give up very delicate jewelry with miniature elements or their complete absence and fashionable phalanx rings. A completely disastrous option is to bring out two or three family jewels at once, tightly “hugging” each of the fingers.

Narrow fingers

Too narrow fingers should not be hidden in the sleeves.On the contrary, show the world their beauty and grace, and take the heroes of the following recommendation as assistants.

Okay: showcases with rings of medium width without stones – the first thing to which you need to keep your way in a jewelry store. If you still want diamonds, sapphires and emeralds to sparkle with colored facets on your hands, from all the others, choose those rings that take all the attention to yourself: even if their stones should be small or medium, but – of non-trivial shapes: fit all kinds of rhombuses, parallelepipeds and triangles.The rings themselves can have complex textured compositions and an intricate ligature framing them.

Forget it like a dream: a good half of the geometric figures known from the school bench on an enlarged scale, with which you quarreled for the first time in mathematics lesson. Bulky rectangular, square and round stones that have settled, especially on thin rings, will immediately attract unnecessary glances to overly fragile fingers.

Large long fingers

Large long fingers and a wide palm are actually a reason for pride and the ability to afford a little more than others.

We give the go-ahead: as if the very rings from the pages of children’s fairy tales were created for you, where in the last chapter in the picture illustrating the happy ending, the blond prince hands the princess a piece of jewelry with an impressive oval diamond. Or a diamond. Or a ruby. In other words, massive jewelry is like your story with a happy ending. If the brush is dense, such rings will only help to visually “narrow” it.

Forget it like a dream: too small and thin ring is not the best companion for a wide hand with large fingers: it will optically disrupt the proportions of the hand overnight, and it will instantly “get lost” without receiving a single flattering review.

Short toes

The rules state that they are visually lengthened by classic oval-shaped nails, a glossy nude manicure and rings with regular shapes and stones.

We give the go-ahead: do not listen to pseudo-advisers who convince you that large stones on the rings are unfaithful friends for you. Let your keen eye notice among them those that have tear-drop or oval-shaped stones. In addition to them, rather drag into your treasury rings with vertically arranged rectangular stones or inserts and decorative elements of elongated shapes.You can do without stones at all: in this case, give preference to rings with unusual shapes – let them be angular, asymmetrical, ribbed, but not convex.

Forgetting like a dream: remember that everything in breadth is taboo. Horizontal elements – all kinds of stripes, long rows of small pebbles and colored inserts – will not add elegance to short fingers, rings “blown” around the entire circumference will give them unnecessary volume, and wide rings for two fingers will visually “cut” the hand – if you really like them, take a closer look at more subtle, feminine options.

Toes with too visible joints

Let’s try to assure you that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to wear spectacular jewelry on your hands, fearing to draw undue attention to them. Visual masking of the “knotty” of the joints with the help of rings is really possible – it remains to choose them correctly.

Okay: carte blanche among the rings, in this case, are again received by all those who can easily be suspected of self-centeredness: they are distinguished by bright stones, fancy decor and a striking play of proportions, which makes them full-fledged accessories in the image.Volume and width are welcome – they are your allies in shifting focus away from large joints. We give you an orientation: when you go to a jewelry store, a picture should pop up in your head with an unfamiliar lady walking towards you, asking with genuine interest: “Tell me, please, where did you buy this interesting ring?” – then you will not be mistaken with the choice.

Forget it like a dream: inconspicuous thin rings – there are no distracting maneuvers in their functionality, but there are as many attractive ones that we don’t need.

Do you pay attention to the shape of your fingers and hand when choosing rings? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Is it harmful to crunch knuckles? – Look At Me

Each week, Look At Me explores common misconceptions and explains why they are wrong. This week we are talking about what the habit of crunching joints leads to.


Cracking your fingers, back and neck is harmful: joints are slowly damaged and arthritis begins over time.

Many have a habit of crunching their joints. Shrill trills flow from their fingers, their neck clicks alarmingly, like a fire in the night, and their lower back, like a judge, gravely interrupts the conversation with a dull blow. Having crushed the bones, these people usually squint barely noticeably, to the obvious displeasure of everyone else. Then someone recalls the advice of unknown doctors and predicts torment in old age.

Igor Lazarev


“The habit of crunching your fingers is harmful.Trying to restore the ratio of the articular surfaces in this way, we destabilize the joint. And this, in turn, is fraught with all sorts of subluxations, dislocations, nerve entrapments in the future ”.


Why is it wrong:

No study found significant harm from joint crunching habit.

There are two hypotheses to explain the crunch in the joints. The first assumes that regardless of your favorite technique – whether you twitch your finger or twist your neck – the same thing happens: the joint capsule stretches, its volume increases, and the pressure, on the contrary, decreases.Because of this, the joint fluid spreads and gas bubbles form in it. These bubbles burst with a characteristic sound. After 10–20 minutes, the gases dissolve again in the liquid – then you can crunch again. According to the second hypothesis, crunching occurs during movement due to rapidly stretching ligaments and tendons. When the capsule, tendons and ligaments are stretched, the joint becomes more mobile and the person feels comfortable. Well, some just like the sound.

No scientist found convincing evidence,
that lovers of kneading bones undermine health

Several research groups have tried to find out if the habit of crunching joints is harmful, in particular, if it leads to arthritis.No scientist has found convincing evidence that lovers of kneading bones undermine health. True, in 1990, Jorge Castellanos and David Axelrod admitted that, due to the habit of crunching the hand, it may work worse: those who love it, more often noticeable swelling, in addition, they squeezed the palm less.