So does this mean I'm exploding my joints?
Knuckle cracking has been studied before, and while researchers found that it hasn't been shown to cause arthritis (yay), one of the larger studies done on the topic indicated that it seemed to be associated with swelling and decreased grip strength. This isn't something that you really want to experience, right? No. No, you do not.
In this study, though, researchers who weren't aware of the volunteers' knuckle-cracking history didn't detect anything bad happening to the volunteers immediately after the crack, which means there was no difference in strength and there wasn't any swelling. The major change uncovered was that the joints moved a little better after popping, and those of us who do pop their knuckles can attest that it can feel pretty badass and relieving.
And as far as whether everyone should hop on the knuckle-cracking train based on this study? Maybe, maybe not. "There is so much to learn about common, everyday habits that we may take for granted," says Dr. Boutin. "We just don’t have the data to give definitive answers at this time." In other words, there were no immediate issues, but long-term research needs to be done before doctors will give a definitive "yay" or "nay." Pesky doctors, with their need for evidence.