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How Knuckle Cracking Reveals Potential Injury. Hey, I’m Sarah from mostmotion® and I’m here with another video for every sport and fitness coach who wants to help their clients avoid injury, but don’t want to get all technical about it.

So, why is knuckle cracking important? Well, first of all it’s seen from the body language professionals from most body language experts as a pacifying behaviour that is helping to soothe emotional anxiety. That is important to you, because emotional stress is the leading cause, and the leading risk factor of injury in most sporting circles and injury in general, actually (I don’t know where my brain is today). But not many people know that it’s also a sign of physical distress. And what do I mean by that, I mean, that there’s tightness somewhere in your body that is causing that feeling of not sitting is just not right, it’s too tight. And it’s not your job as a coach to know whether the knuckle cracking behaviour is a sign of the physical stress, or is a sign of the emotional stress, all you need to know is that both of those things, increase the muscle tightness in the body. And that increases the risk of injury.

How? well, this is what I’m going to show you. If your hand… when there’s tightness in the hand, basically the joints sit in different places, so that can be anywhere along the fingers, it can be down the centre of the hand here. And when muscles are too tight, the shortened ones anyway, when they get too tight, they make your hand kind of go to the centerline of the body. So everything kind of curls inwards, like this, and then it follows down, because the muscles in of your fingers do not finish in your hand, they finished down here at your elbow, both sides, lots of them doesn’t matter where they are. But essentially, all this down here becomes very tight, and it makes your elbow sit in a different place. So instead of being flat up like this, with my hand palm up and my elbow flat like this, it makes a comfortable position more like this. Then there’s a constant twist in your elbow, which puts strain on the bicep, that rotates the arm inwards. And that can create tension through the chest and down the side of the ribcage as well. But it also works both ways. So if your participants have a tight chest, tight lats, tight area around the chest, that can feed the tightness into the hand, and that can create that knuckle cracking behaviour.

In the same way that emotional stress increases the muscle tightness in the body increases that tension, that feeling of distress in the body, physical muscle tightness does the same to your emotions. And that’s important, because you don’t really need to know the causes, you just need to know what to do about it. And that makes it really, really easy for you to simplify your response to somebody who is cracking their knuckles, for example.

So what can you do? At this point, you have two choices, you can either spend lots of time dealing with the individual joints, so you could deal with the fingers, you could deal with the wrist, you could deal with the elbow, and you could deal with the shoulder and all area around the shoulder. Or you can do something simple, that allows the body to lengthen all of that at the same time. And the simplest, simplest thing to do is hanging. And I don’t mean like hanging off a pull up bar, when your feet don’t touch the floor, that’s very stressful, that’s a lot of strain through the body, we want the body to unwind the tightness, we want to help it relax, okay, so if you hang off a pull up bar or a tree branch, or even if you don’t have that you hang up a doorway, and I’ve even done it with my hand resting on a wall and just dropping my body down bending my knees to allow that traction through the shoulder here, because all of the muscle fibres from down the sternum, across the under the ribcage and all the way to the hand, all the muscle fibres point to your hand. So if you’re using what nature gave you, then you can attack this from multiple angles all at once. But attack is very strong word and we don’t need to do that. If we add gentle movement to this hanging position (with your feet on the floor), then we can cover the physical and the emotional at the same time.

Why? Because movement finds the combinations of muscle tightness, that static stretching will never find and dynamic stretching in one direction we’ll never find. Just moving around in any direction you like really, very gently allows the brain to investigate for itself, where those tightness is are and what it needs to do about it. Also, the movement itself because it’s very gentle, because it’s very slow, is really soothing to the body, which calms the emotional stress that people might be feeling. It also allows the human brain to be curious. And that is a really, really exciting prospect for your brain. So when it can investigate new things it’s like. And when we do that with a movement, it’s tapping into what your brain really enjoys. We’re allowing your body to do what nature intended. And that is very soothing to the body.

So what else might you see? Well, you might see from all the tightness through the arm and all the rest of it, if you’re trying to get somebody to do an overhead position, you might find that they can’t quite straighten their arms out properly, they might find that they they feel very weak, or they can’t create power, the grip particularly tends to disappear first. So if they’re dropping off a pull up bar, shaking my hands like this, or, you know, they can’t continue to move around in a way that feels comfortable to them. And it may well be the tightness there’s giving out first, okay, I used to work with motocross riders, and they’re constantly on their handlebars. And their brakes are always doing this. And they have lots of arm pump, they used to call it arm pump. And we’d do a lot of work to open the hands out and things like that.

So why is that important? Because if we don’t relieve this tightness first, okay, then all those little actions that we ask our clients to do to get the correct technique can cause problems because their body is fighting against that tightness. An example of this would be trying to hold on to a barbell, for example, in this way, my hands you can see them, if you’re trying to force your hands into a flat position, because they don’t feel comfortable like that the tension in your elbow is creating this as a natural hand position view. If you’re asking your clients to fight that, and push their hands into that position, if you do that you can feel the back of your shoulder here, you can feel those muscles firing up. If those muscles are strained, because they’re pulled too long, because the arm is in a different position, then over time, that little action of trying to force your hands into it into a flat position can cause problems in the shoulder, they call that particular area of the body, the deltoid muscle strain, it can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, it can cause cause over time over a long time, it can cause osteoarthritis, especially in the hands of tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, all that stuff, it can cause all of these injury problems.

But not every single coach wants to know the details about these injury problems. And that’s cool, because we can simplify everything, which means that every coach knows exactly what to do to help prevent these problems coming. Simple things like that hanging example, with a little bit of movement. Or even if you had a group, let’s say you had a group in a sports hall, if you did, we used to play crab football when I was a kid. So you’d sit on the floor, put your hands behind you and lift your hips and try and run around with your hands behind you in a position like that. That’s a really good way of stretching the chest out and using the arms in a different way as well. It’s very fun. So that helps to reduce the anxiety around all this stuff.

So we can do this very, very simply. And this is a process I call injury hacking. So is where we are all hanging out. It’s a Facebook group. It’s a free Facebook group. So if you like the idea of simplifying all of these potential problems that your clients are going through, you like the idea of being able to spot these things happening just from simple clues, like knuckle cracking, then come and join us over in the Facebook group. We’d love to have you at Thanks for watching. I’ll see you again next time.

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