Not All That it’s Cracked Up to Be: Cracking Your Back


I would come home from a long day at work, lie down on the floor, tuck my knees at the hips and slowly twist to the right and to the left. Excluding the fact that the sound of my back popping was akin to someone stepping on a bag of peanuts, cracking my back in this way was pure nirvana. As I have gotten older I can no longer do this on my own. Lack of flexibility means I must go to a chiropractor and have them do it. 

This begs the question: Is cracking your own back at home a good thing? Let’s break this down (no pun intended) and see what we come up with.


First off, if you are cracking your back to alleviate tension, it’s probably better to stretch. That said, health professionals point out that your joints (spine included) are composed of ligaments and tendons which can wear out with the passage of time. When you are sitting or standing all day, all these joints can constrict. So what happens? You crack your back like I did for so many years.

WebMD, in an article on the same topic, points out that “Although this cracking or popping noise you hear may sound alarming, it doesn’t mean anything is breaking.” The truth is, our joints contain fluids and gases and when pressure is applied these elements get expelled. Hence the popping sound.

Better to Stretch

The short term benefits of cracking your back are minimal: You can pop your back or crack your neck but most likely you find yourself doing the same thing again and again which may be your body telling you that something is wrong. In the meantime though, simple stretching can be a tremendous help. And it’s never too late to start.

FoxNewsHealth explains that “A simple way to stretch a tight back is to get into the shower and stretch your back out gently. After roughly 5 minutes [of showering], flex forward, extend backwards, and bend from side to side. Make sure not to bounce or over-do it.” Also, don’t slip. You’ve got to remember bathroom safety.

As I mentioned earlier, cracking your back may not cause any major damage to your bones and joints. And in the bigger scheme of things, there has not been any significant research on whether “self-cracking” can be detrimental to you. Unless of course you do it wrong, which is yet another reason to see a professional. And, frankly, is that a risk you want to take? After all, the back (which protects your central nervous system) is really, really important. 

This fact is underscored by FoxNewsHealth, which points out, “If your back pain persists a chiropractor is an excellent choice as a first line of defense for back pain.”

When a professional manipulates the spine or any joint in the body, it is performed in a controlled manner and followed by specific exercises or stretches. This approach ensures attention is given to both the joint and its surrounding tissues.

Why improvise when a professional chiropractor can get you back on your feet? The staff at The Joint at the Friendly Center has the knowledge and the right touch that can make your aches and pains a thing of the past.  

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Warm-Up by Nicholas A. Tonelli is licensed under CC BY 4.0

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

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