I often have a lot of clients coming to me complaining of ‘cracking’ or ‘popping noises coming from the shoulder joint, followed by the question: “Is this normal?”
FIRSTLY and most importantly, yes it is VERY normal.
The second question I get asked is: “Is it harmful?”
The simple answer to this is:
- If you aren’t experiencing pain then NO it is usually not harmful
BUT if there IS pain along with the clicking then it may be something a bit more serious!
WHAT CAUSES SHOULDER CLICKING?
There are 2 common causes:
1️. The 1ST is known as CREPITUS - this refers to the grinding and clicking in a joint.
- When we overstretch the shoulder joint capsule, the synovial fluid (which lubricates the joints in our body) releases a gas forming bubbles and when these bubbles collapse inwards this creates a popping or clicking sound.
❕CLICKING is most likely to occur when lifting the arms up, especially at shoulder height. Also when performing pushing movements at the gym e.g. push ups bench press or side raises. Other everyday activities like putting a bag over our shoulder can also cause the cracking!
2️. The 2ND is caused by bicipital groove misalignment causing cracking which is usually a result of poor posture. Making postural adjustments will help with this misalignment.
*It is also important to note that muscle tendons can flick as they move over the bone, causing popping noise. As tendons are a string like structure, when we move over bones it can make a “clicking” sound like guitar strings.*
HOW TO HELP CREPITUS:
- Yoga improves flexibility, strength and stability around joints. Helps with posture improvement and assists with breathing & relaxation which is important for stress related shoulder & neck pain
- Foam rolling
- Massage Therapy
- Heat packs
N.B. If you ARE experiencing pain with clicking & you ignore it, this could lead to a more severe condition: eg. FROZEN SHOULDER = shoulder capsule and joint become stuck in a glue-like inflammatory process. Other signs to look out for: swelling, redness or heat - this could be a sign of infection!