Have you ever reached for something off the top shelf of your kitchen cabinet and heard or felt a subtle crackling sound in your shoulder? Ever been at the gym about to mount a pullup bar only to feel a crunch or grind around your shoulder blade upon making contact with the bar? Or what about in your hip? If so, you’re not alone. As a physical therapist, we deal these, “snap, crackle, and pop” moments daily when treating our patients.
The most likely explanation for such events is a term called crepitation. This is defined as audible vibrations indicating an underlying fracture, the presence of gas within tissues, or the grinding of arthritic bone surfaces and tendon movement.1 A skilled physical therapist based on an initial examination can rule out fracture or gas in the tissues quite simply. Once this is accomplished, the grinding of arthritic bone surfaces and tendon movement is usually the cause. This refers the compression of bones due to tendon and muscle tightness.
The tendons, which attach muscles to bone, become so tight they restrict the movement of bones as opposed to maintaining a smooth gliding motion which can both cause and advance arthritis. The good news is, this is a very treatable symptom.
One of the simplest, most cost effective ways to address the issue is through self administered soft tissue massage, or myofascial release. This can be done by rolling over the affected areas with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or anything that essentially can dig into the tendon and muscle belly to elicit a release of the tension. A good rule of thumb is to roll over the area until you feel a sore spot. Hold or gently roll side-to-side on that spot for approximately 1 minute or until the soreness in the area dissipates. Continue this process over all areas of your body requiring the treatments. Don’t be surprised if you have to repeat the myofascial release techniques frequently. It can take several weeks for tension to subside to a manageable level. It is also recommended to implement a soft tissue massage maintenance plan into your normal exercise program. Below you will see examples of self myofascial release tools and 2 ideas for areas to foam roll. To learn more about techniques that can help eliminate the snap, crackle and, pop in your life contact us at Innovative Therapy and Wellness 757-486-8663.
1. crepitation. (n.d.) Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing. (2012). Retrieved July 1 2016 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/crepitation
Basic Self Myofascial Release Tools- Foam rollers and Lacrosse Balls
Self Release of QL (Quadratus Lumborum) muscle
Self Release of Rotator Cuff muscles and Latissimus muscle
Self release of hip rotators and glut muscles