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To Crack or Not To Crack?

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

Neck stretch

Have you ever heard your back make a 'cracking' noise when moving, or maybe you have intentionally 'cracked' or self-adjusted your spine due to that frustrating tension that keeps returning? Well, if you wondered at the time if it's good for you, we have more on the topic this week. It's a popular question we receive in practice about whether it is harmful to crack your own back. But unfortunately, the answer is not a straightforward "yes" or "no”. While self-adjusting and hearing a ‘crack’ can offer temporary relief, there are some things to consider if you feel the need to do it all the time, which we will discuss in this week's blog. But first, let's talk about the noise itself. If you move a joint beyond its normal range and hear the 'crack' or 'popping' noise, you can hear it due to the build-up and release of gas within the joint. If you have visited a chiropractor, you may have heard this during your adjustment visit, however, it is not always present or required for an adjustment to be effective. The second thing to consider is why you may need to crack your back, or another area of your body in the first place. The urge to self-adjust is often due to tension or discomfort in an area. It can feel satisfying and may provide temporary relief from stiffness or discomfort. However, if you need to do it regularly, it's important to consider whether it is resolving the issue. Could there be lifestyle factors that are causing the problem and need addressing instead? For example, this may include incorporating specific stretching, increasing hydration, adapting posture, or factoring in more intentional movement during the day. Another consideration is the risk of hurting yourself. The spine is a complex part of your body and houses your spinal cord, along with a network of nerves that travel from it. So, let's take a stiff neck as an example. If you feel the need to self-adjust it frequently to relieve the tension, there is always a risk that you could put too much force through the area or move it incorrectly, resulting in an injury. The movement will likely lack specificity too. The joints of your spine are intricate, so as chiropractors, we are very intentional about focusing on a specific joint during an adjustment. When adjusting your own spine, you will likely move multiple joints, which may not be beneficial. The final thing to think about is how wonderfully connected your body is. Your spine is one fluid structure, and what happens at the top of your spine can impact the lower spine, and vice versa. It may be the case that you are getting lower back pain and feel the need to crack it, but the source of the issue may be coming from your upper spine. Therefore, it doesn't matter how often you self-adjust; the problem will likely return. Therefore, we recommend getting checked out by a professional if you are experiencing repeated tension or discomfort that is causing you to want to crack your own spine. As chiropractors, we have extensive training and experience in assessing the spine to find the root cause of the issue and delivering safe and specific adjustments where needed. So, is cracking your own back bad? Well, while it can provide temporary relief, there are also factors to consider about its safety and effectiveness. If in doubt, we encourage you to seek help. Our door is always open if you need some guidance, or you are welcome to schedule a visit to experience tailored chiropractic care that can help to relieve that tension and need to self-adjust for good.

The content of this blog is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

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