Are Cracking Joints when Squatting Healthy?

Goran asks…

Wwhen I do squats, and I do them really rock bottom, well below parallel, there is cracking sound in both of my knees. It just happens on deep squats, if I go to parallel or slightly below it doesn’t “crack”. But I do squats as deep as almost touching my heels with ass. They “crack” on 0 kg, on 50, on 110, 120, doesn’t matter.

I’ve got no pain in knees, no problems at all. But I’d like to hear your opinion: should I stop ass to grass squats and just go to parallel to avoid that cracking sound, or is it safe? Thanks, Goran.

The cause of cracking joints is unclear. My body has been cracking for years (especially my upper-back and shoulders). One theory is that the pop is gas released from your joints. I quit cracking my knuckles years ago, but there is no evidence that would cause arthritis (source wikipedia). As you point out, the cracking is painless, so there’s nothing to be afraid of.

One thing that seems to diminish the cracking is soft tissue work. Some say the cracking/popping joints is evidence of trigger points causing joint stress. You can eliminate those trigger points yourself with a foam roller. For cracking knees I recommend foam rolling your calves, but also your IT band etc.

For your Squats, stop going so deep. I haven’t seen you Squat, but a lot of people don’t have the flexibility to go deep, “ATG”. And it’s easy to do them wrong by bouncing off your knees instead off your hamstrings. So Squat to parallel, no need to go lower.

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