There are the habitual knuckle-crackers, neck-poppers, and back-twisters. They often send shivers down the spines of those around them which is often accompanied by a the admonishment "you're going to give yourself arthritis!".
However, all medical research seems to say the same thing: painless popping is not harmful and there is no proof it contributes to arthritis.
Painless cracking of joints is as a rule not harmful.
Knuckle "cracking" has not been shown to be harmful or beneficial. More specifically, knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis.
I do not crack my knuckles or my back (anymore now that I am preggo). But for a long time I have cracked my right ankle. It started years ago in ballet - it cracked once on it's own performing a simple plié (french for "bend"; specifically, bending of the knees) and it felt good. From that point on, if I bent my knees enough, my right ankle would "pop" and it always feels good.
Like all joints, you can only "crack" it once every 15 minutes or so. It drives my husband crazy as he firmly believes that it will cause "damage" to my joint.
"You're destroying your ankle!!" He'll yell when he hears it. But, it is to the point that walking down stairs is enough pressure to make the ankle pop now so it happens even without my intention.
Not only do I not have any intention of stopping, I don't think I can at this point!
What about you? Any habitual joint poppers on NewsVine? Anyone with a horror story about how we'll "stay that way"?
But in all seriousness...there was one bit of evidence I found about the negative side of joint popping:
This study, done by Raymond Brodeur and published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, examined 300 knuckle crackers for evidence of joint damage. The results revealed no apparent connection between joint cracking and arthritis; however, habitual knuckle poppers did show signs of other types of damage, including soft tissue damage to the joint capsule and a decrease in grip strength. This damage is most likely a result of the rapid, repeated stretching of the ligaments surrounding the joint.
So pop if you will or must, but know that someone, somewhere, is gonna yell at you sooner or later!