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Yoga & Sternum Cracking

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
Yoga & Sternum Cracking
Bow pose is a chest opener that can cause sternum cracking. Photo Credit f9photos/iStock/Getty Images

Don't panic if you're moving through your favorite chest-opening asana, such as bow pose, and you hear a little pop coming from your sternum, the bone in front of your chest. Joints pop regularly in the same way that your knuckles do when you crack them. It's caused by movement of gas around the joint or your tendon snapping into place. Although it's alarming, most of the time the popping sound from your sternum is harmless and might even feel good.

Sternum Anatomy

Your sternum is a long, flat bone in front of your chest. The top of the sternum is called the manubrium, and connects to your collar bones and top ribs. The body of the sternum is the longest part and connects to most of your ribs. The bottom of your sternum is a small, triangular bone called the xiphoid process.

Read More: Sternum Pain With Exercise

With so many different bones connecting to your sternum, it's no wonder that things might get a little noisy when you move it around. Each spot that a rib or collar bone attaches to your sternum is a joint, and there are 16 joints total on your sternum. Each joint is just as capable of cracking as one of your knuckles.

Joint Popping and Cracking

There are a couple of different reasons why you hear a popping sound coming from your joints. The first reason is called articular release. Another name for a joint is an articulation, because that's where two bones meet and move against each other.

If the space between the bones becomes too close it can lead to arthritis over time. When the joint gets bigger and creates more space you may or may not hear a pop and feel some relief. An articular release can even help prevent arthritis in the long term, according to a paper from Johns Hopkins University.

Tendons Snapping

Your joints sometimes crack or pop when tendons move around and snap into place. Some of your tendons form grooves in bones where they sit comfortably and help connect your muscles to bone. Sometimes they move out of their groove and then snap back into place because they are under a lot of tension. However, rest assured that this is normal and nothing to be concerned about.

When It's A Problem

It is important to note that while a cracking or popping sound coming from your sternum is typically no big deal, occasionally it indicates a real problem. The easiest way to tell if you actually injured yourself is swelling in the joint where you heard the popping sound. If you feel swelling, consult a medical professional.

Yoga poses use a lot of range of motion, which is why it's common to hear popping or cracking.
Yoga poses use a lot of range of motion, which is why it's common to hear popping or cracking. Photo Credit Bychykhin_Olexandr/iStock/Getty Images

Chest Openers and Sternum Cracking

There are plenty of opportunities for the joints around your sternum to pop during a yoga class with the broad ranges of motion and various chest opening poses that are typically incorporated. Pulling your shoulders and arms back in something like Bow pose will stretch out the chest muscles that lie on top of the sternum as well as pull on your ribs and collar bone, which attach to the sternum. Wheel, Dancer and Fish are examples of other stretches that could also affect your sternum.

Read More: Why Does My Rib Cage Pop When Stretching?

With all of this movement around the bone and at the joints connected to the bone, there is plenty of opportunity for a tendon to snap or a joint to pop back to normal. That's why you shouldn't be worried about the occasional crack or pop around your sternum during yoga class.

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