Many people assume that “cracking” your back is bad for you, but is that actually the case? In this physical therapy education article, we are going to talk about the act of “cracking” your back and whether or not it’s damaging to your spine.
Why Do We Do It?
There is a capsule in every joint that houses synovial fluid. The fluid acts as a lubricant to make sure that two surfaces don’t rub together and wear down. The fluid is in cased by a synovial membrane and cartilage. Pressure can build up inside the capsule and feel like it needs to “pop”. When you hear that popping sound that is the sound of that pressure and gas being released from the capsule. So whether you are cracking your knuckles during the day or hear a pop during chiropractic adjustment you know that it is the result of that pressure being released. No matter what the intent is however there is an endorphin release after the release of pressure. An endorphin is your bodies “feel good” hormone, so much of the time you will feel good right after the release, especially around the spine.As a result you will often see or hear other people “popping” each others backs, walking on each other or can hear the “pop” as they are stretching for that good feeling afterwards.
The Difference Between the “Pop” and a Chiropractic Adjustment
Many people get confused when they hear the same noise at a chiropractors office as they do when they walk on each others back. (It is important to note that not all chiropractic offices utilize the same technique. For example our office uses a low forces, specific adjustment that does not require twisting, cracking or popping.) We have to look at what the INTENT of the two scenarios are. The intent when someone pops their own neck or back is to release pressure that will momentarily make them feel better or that pressure was reduced.
The intent behind a specific chiropractic adjustment is to move a bone into proper position with the bones above and below it, enlarge the areas where nerves pass between the bones thus taking pressure of the nerve. Both can make you feel better instantaneously but only one takes pressure of a nerve and allows your body function better.
We have had a few practice members that have started care due to headaches or neck pain that would constantly “pop” their own neck. They would feel their neckgetting tight and would grab their chin and twist their neck both ways. They said it would make them feel better for a short period of time but over weeks and months the neck pain and headaches would come back with a greater intensity and frequency. Everything we do in our office is specifically designed to find the exact bone that is misaligned and putting pressure on a nerve; once we know that exact location we can very gently and specifically restore its proper position and relieve pressure on the nerves. We locate these areas with state-of-the-art neurological scans, digital X-Ray and an in depth chiropractic exam.
Can you imagine an auto mechanic with a wrench in hand blind folding himself and trying to fix your engine? That is what it is like when individuals try to correct their own spine!
More so, there is the potential that you are putting additional pressure on nerves and training your spine to rest in a bad position. The most important system in the body is the Nervous System. Your bones are there to protect that valuable system! Why would you take the chance of moving the bones around in a random fashion? Your health is your most important asset in life and your nervous system is the most important system in your body. I personally would not trust anyone that has not gone through an entire doctorate program specifically designed around your spine and nervous system to pop, twist or crack my bones.