Click, Clunks and Pops

This is something that often comes up in class. Shoulders, ankles, hips, knees that click when you do an exercise. Sometimes the click does a bit of a Mexican wave around the class as we warm up. Sometimes it seeks out one person and proceeds to annoy them repeatedly.

So what are these clicks and pop, are they anything to be concerned about.

  1. The sound of cracking knuckles – that is gas or air popping out of a joint as pulling the joint, stretches it and releases bubbles of gas. Usually due to a lax joint that is moved in a different range. The laxity gives it more movement than usual and….. It could be that the joint has sustained an injury at some stage and so is unstable and moves around more in the joint. Should you worry? Only if you are hypermobile as there could be risk of the joint dislocating. Either way Pilates will help.
  1. The tendons supporting the muscle can catch on the bone as you move/stretch. This can be due to poor alignment and joint positioning. Should you worry? No, not in the short term but it is good to work on fixing the problem. See my tips below.
  1. Crunching and grinding can be noises to be concerned about as they could be signs of osteoarthritis or worn cartliage. If you get any pain then you should certain seek medical advice.

Top tips:

TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE: this can not be emphasised enough. Having not just good, but great technique will really make a difference.

Reduce the range of movement and check your alignment. Are your hip bones level, are you lengthening through the hips and legs. Are you using the right muscles in the exercise?

I’m going to use the hips as my example as that is where the majority of people get a clicking noise. This is often due to an imbalance in the muscles around the hip joint. The femur struggles to stay in the hip joint and doesn’t move smoothly.

It could be your hip flexors are overactive, so work on switching those off. Exercising with the legs outstretched in turnout for the hundred so the inner thigh works more can help, or place a ball between your knees to activate the inner thigh on the mat for anything with curl ups. Nail those curls ups first and then add in the legs. Your bum muscles may need strengthening. Squats, spine curls and oysters are all good ones for this.

The position of the hip in the socket is key. Whether it is reaching too far out or sinking too far back into the socket. Experimenting will help you find out or book a 1-2-1 session with a good Pilates teacher to help you figure it out. Lengthening is what works for me. I tend to sink down into my hip and I have to think of length in the hip area.

Common exercises that lead to clicks are the one leg circle and single leg stretch. One of my hips clicks in these if I’m not concentrating hard enough!  In the single leg circle turn your foot out as you move it away from your body and make sure the movement is initiated from your hip and you aren’t moving from your knee or thigh. In the single leg stretch focus on not over activating your hip flexors as you curl up and keeping length through the hip area as you stretch the leg away.

If you need any 1-2-1 support with this don’t hesitate to get in touch.

See you on the mat/reformer.