We’ve all experienced it – that satisfying “pop” that seems to instantly relieve tightness or pain in your back.
That sensation can feel so good that some people develop a habit of cracking their backs often. Doing this once in a while when needed is okay, but it is important to understand that habitual back cracking – if done by an untrained individual – can lead to some damaging and lasting effects. Here is what cracking your back really does.
Unexpected Hazards of Untrained Spinal Adjustments
It is never recommended for untrained individuals to make purposeful spinal adjustments by cracking joints. This practice can cause a relatively benign issue to become a massive problem. Without adequate education about human anatomy and appropriate adjustment techniques, untrained individuals can aggravate active issues or cause problems with spinal alignment where before there may have been only slight muscle stiffness.
The aggravated issue can lead to the development of scar tissue due to a breakdown of delicate joint and muscle tissue, which can reduce flexibility by up to 60%, and could lead to other injuries in the future.
Hypermobile Individuals Are More Susceptible to Injury
While being flexible is a desired trait, those people who are genetically predisposed to hypermobility – commonly known as being “double jointed” – may be more susceptible to injury and to the addictive traits of back cracking. Because people with this condition are able to move beyond the normal range of motion – usually by approximately 10% to 15% – they will often push past safe limits for joints that don’t have sufficient muscle mass to support the motion. These individuals are also the most prone to joint clicking, which often progresses to regular cracking and potential injurious results.
Adjustments By a Trained Chiropractor
Repeated, untrained cracking can lead to premature breakdown of joints and ligaments. So when your spine feels out of alignment or there’s muscle tension, it’s time to seek professional chiropractic treatment to resolve the issue. A chiropractor will be able to teach you better habits to resolve small issues on your own, such as warming the body through exercise or a warm shower, and doing some light stretching or yoga to relieve tension. In addition, you will receive appropriate, site-specific adjustments to help address spinal alignment.