Why Do My Knees Crack? – Exercises for Injuries

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Snap, crackle, pop!

It’s pretty safe to say most of us have heard these noises coming from our knees at one time or another. 

So why do our knees crack? Should we be worried about this?

Reason Why the Knees May Crack

Knee cracking isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we understand it can be a little unsettling to hear it.

Most of the time when the knees crack or pop, it’s not a painful sensation. Some of the possible reasons behind this pain-free cracking can include the following:

  • Natural release of gas within the joint
  • Arthritic changes
  • Release of scar tissue breaking up from a previous injury or surgery
  • Surrounding muscle imbalances leading to a lack of support around the knee joint
  • Naturally misaligned knee joint
  • Being overweight may lead to stress on the knee joints

Sometimes though, you may be experiencing pain with knee cracking and popping if you’ve suffered from a recent trauma or injury. Some of these injuries may include the following:

  • Acute knee dislocation or subluxation
  • Meniscus tear
  • Cartilage tear
  • Knee ligament sprain or tear 
  • Fracture

How Can I Get Rid of These Sounds?

how to get rid of knees crack sound

First and foremost, if your knee cracking started with a recent injury or trauma AND it’s painful… You need to seek medical attention to have it looked at right away. 

If your knee cracking is not painful and is not related to a recent injury, then there’s a few treatment options.

Even without pain or a recent injury, it doesn’t hurt to consult with a medical professional, such as a physical therapist, to get to the bottom of why your knees are cracking so much.

You can also consult with a dietician or nutritionist if your doctor thinks weight management is a part of the problem.

Many times cracking knee joints need more support and stability around them. This means making sure you have a good home exercise program in place to achieve this goal.

If you’re not sure where to start, we have a few ideas for you! The following exercises are basic starting points to get you moving.

If you feel you need more one-on-one guidance, remember you can always consult with an exercise professional, such as a physical therapist or personal trainer.

6 Best Exercises for Knee Cracking 

1. Long Arc Quad

long arc quad step 1
long arc quad step 2
  • Position yourself seated upright in a chair with the feet flat on the floor.
  • Use either a 2-3# ankle weight or tie a resistance band (light, medium or heavy resistance) around the ankles.
  • While one foot remains flat on the floor, kick the opposite foot off the floor, allowing the knee to fully straighten.
  • Hold at the top of the motion for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

2. Standing Hamstring Curl

standing hamstring curl
  • You can use 2-3# ankle weights or tie a resistance band around the ankles.
  • Stand in front of a sturdy surface, such as a countertop.
  • Bend one knee, allowing the foot to kick up towards the bottom.
  • Return to your starting position.
  • Make sure the thighs remain close together.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

3. Lateral Walk

lateral walk step 1
lateral walk step 2
  • Tie a resistance band around the legs with the feet together touching. To make it a little easier, tie the band around the thighs. For more of a challenge, tie it around the ankles.
  • Position yourself facing a sturdy surface you can walk along, such as the countertop.
  • Sit the hips back and allow the knees to bend so that you’re in a mini squat.
  • Maintain this mini squat and allow your leading leg to step out so that the legs are hip width apart.
  • Next, allow the following legs to step in so that the feet are touching again.
  • Continue with sideways or lateral walk along the surface you’re in front of, then walk back the other way.
  • Practice 3-5 laps of this resisted walk.

4. Mini Squat

mini squat step 1
mini squat step 2
  • Position yourself in front of a sturdy surface, such as your countertop.
  • Stand tall with the feet about hip width apart. 
  • Bend the knees to a 45-degree angle and sit back slightly towards the heels.
  • Hold for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.

5. Forward Step Ups

forward step ups step 1
forward step ups step 2
  • Position yourself in front of a 4-6 inch step.
  • Stand next to a supportive surface, such as a wall or countertop for balance support.
  • Place one foot on the step. Make sure the knee and thigh are pointing straight forward.
  • Step up onto the step. The second leg can either hang behind or join the other leg on the step.
  • Return to your starting position, keeping the original leg on the step.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

6. Lateral Step Ups

lateral step ups step 1
lateral step ups step 2
  • Position yourself sideways next to a 4-6 inch step.
  • Make sure something sturdy is in front of you for balance support.
  • Place the leg closest to the step onto it.
  • Allow the leg on the floor to be positioned right next to the step, but slightly behind the other leg.
  • Keeping the knee and thigh pointing straight forward, step up onto the step.
  • The second leg will dangle during this.
  • Return back to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15x for 2-3 sets.
  • Practice on both legs.

Just in case the difference in positioning between a forward and lateral step up is a little confusing, take a look at this video demonstration showing the differences between the two!

Stay Consistent 

You may notice your knee cracking getting less and less as you start a regular exercise routine and overall keep a healthy, active lifestyle.

The most important thing is to gradually progress your home routine if you’re just starting out. 

Keep up the hard work and you’ll see results in no time!

Wondering What's Next?

Discover 11 Easy, At-Home “Stretch Exercises” for Stronger, Pain-Free Joints (click below)

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