Cracking Your Back? Leave it to the Pros
By Donna Kostiew
Cracking our own back or neck can be as habit-forming as biting our nails. We often don’t realize when we start doing it, but for most people, it is done several times per day. Sometimes we even ask members of our family to participate. “Hey Jenny … walk on mommy’s back please,” or we cross our arms over our chest and ask our sweetheart to lift us up from behind and shake our bones loose. Or so it feels like. But is all of our “self-adjusting” safe?
What Happens When You Crack Your Back or Neck
The joints in your spine (there are a lot) can often become stiff, or even stuck. Self-adjusting the neck or back is essentially the same as pulling the joint surface in that area apart and reducing the pressure inside of it. As this occurs, a vacuum is created and the dissolved gases that normally exist in the synovial fluid start to form bubbles. The cracking sound you hear are the bubbles popping … and the end result you get is relief and a greater range of motion.
Relief … That Must Mean it’s OK to do, Right?
Well, not necessarily. Although the body doesn't like to be stuck and was designed to move, cracking your own back and neck shouldn’t be your final solution. The back and neck are complex structures that include discs, ligaments, nerves and the spinal cord (which controls the necessary functions for life). It is extremely important to know what you are doing when any kind of force is applied to this part of the body. It’s also possible to have issues that are undiagnosed which could be made worse by pulling or moving a certain area in a certain way.
Self-adjusting may give you relief for a bit, but more than likely, it will only be temporary … hence the beginning of that bad habit … and oftentimes, it really won't fix a thing. When the relief is gone, and the stiffness comes back (which it will) the urge to stretch and twist may become all-consuming. It’s understandable to feed that urge, but over time, all of this self-adjusting can become a problem for the structure and stability that your neck and back need to function properly. It’s a continuous circle of pain, relief, stiffness, relief, decreased range of motion, relief, and back to pain. Sound familiar? Then it’s time to step off that crazy train and see your chiropractor.
Isn’t a Chiropractor Doing Exactly What I am Doing … Just Cracking my Back?
The short answer is no. Your chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic will align your spine with targeted adjustments that focus on the specific underlying issues at hand. They're not doing it willy-nilly. They will perform a complete examination of your back and neck to find the specific joints that are creating the stress you are experiencing and will come up with a treatment plan that will increase joint mobility, promote a properly functioning nervous system and reduce the urge that you have to crack your own back.
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lakewood, Colo.