Is Cracking Your Back Good For You?

We all get the urge. Just one simple movement and the joints will give that satisfactory pop. But are the wives’ tales true? Can cracking your back whenever you get the urge lead to serious health problems like Mom always said?


Is it a bad thing when you crack a joint on your own?

Technically, cracking your back, neck, or other joints on your own once in awhile isn’t harmful. (Unless, of course, you have a displaced disk or other spinal injury that you didn’t know about.) However, if you get up from your desk, stiff-necked, every day and have started to make a habit of cracking your joints, then there’s potential for serious damage.

All of your joints are made up of ligaments, tendons, and soft tissue. Constantly popping these areas, although it may alleviate tension for the short term, can lead to premature breakdown and hypermobility in the long run. When you stretch your back and feel the glorious pop, the muscles surrounding the spine stretch. If it’s a repeated stretching, the elasticity (or mobility) of the muscles begins to decrease. (Think of a rubber band being constantly pulled: Eventually, it loses its stretchiness.) Cracking a joint repeatedly can lead to problems such as swollen joints, pain, less mobility, or the worst of all: arthritis.


What’s the physiology behind why a joint like your back or neck makes that popping noise?

The first time you cracked a knuckle or your back, there was most likely the infamous popping noise, one that may have left you wondering if you just broke something vital. Although this sound may be alarming, it doesn’t mean you’ve torn anything. Between your muscles, joints, and ligaments lies fluid that provides a space so the joints don’t rub against each other. Every time the area is cracked or stretched, the fluid is expelled. When this substance is under pressure, the gas escapes and creates that popping sound.


What signs should you look for when it’s time to get a chiropractor involved?

The first sign you should look for when considering finding a chiropractor is if you’re constantly seeking back relief in the form of cracking your own joints. By getting the opinion and help of a chiropractor, you can determine if you have any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your stiffness. When a chiropractor works on your back, the joints and spine are manipulated in a controlled manner, using exercises and stretches that won’t harm the body. This also ensures that attention is given to the specific areas of discomfort.

A few other signs that suggest it’s time to make that appointment are chronic pain; frequent headaches; recent trauma to the body (i.e. car accident or other serious injury); limited range of motion; the soles of your shoes wearing out differently (this suggests that your body is out of alignment and could use readjusting).

So next time you’re about to give your back that routine oh-so-satisfying pop into place (or you notice another warning sign), make an appointment with Kelly Chiropractic.

Kelly Chiropractic 9390 Ford Ave Suite #2
Richmond Hill, GA 31324
(912) 756-8080