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? Or maybe been at the gym about to mount a pull-up bar only to feel a crunch or grind around your shoulder blade when making contact with the bar? Or what about in your hip?
If so, you’re not alone. As physical therapists, 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. Based on an initial examination, a skilled physical therapist 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.
Tendons, tough bands of fibrous connective tissue which connects muscles to bone, can become so tight that they restrict the movement of bones as opposed to maintaining a smooth gliding motion. This can both cause and advance arthritis. The good news? 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 area with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or anything which will essentially 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. Once this is accomplished, 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 may 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 are some examples of self myofascial release tools and a couple ideas for areas to foam roll.
To learn more about techniques which can help eliminate the snap, crackle and, pop in your life, contact Innovative Therapy and Wellness by calling (757) 486-8663 or email by clicking contact us located under the connect tab.
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
A collaborative effort from the experienced staff at IT&W