Perhaps you crack your back regularly, or maybe you’re too scared. A lot of people love the feeling of release that comes along with stretching, bending, and twisting their backs to make loud cracking noises when they’re experiencing pain. But is this cracking helping anything? Read to find out if you should wait for a professional to crack it for you.
What is the cracking noise from your bones?
Contrary to popular belief, the cracking noise produced is not bones “cracking” it’s a release of nitrogen gas built up in joints from the bone’s lubricant, known as synovial fluid. When you pop or crack any joint, the joint capsule is stretched, releasing gas bubbles. Surrounding tissue will quickly reabsorb gasses after cracking, and in order to hear that sound again you’ll have to wait until the gasses build up again. The longer you wait, the louder the crack.
Why does it feel satisfying?
The reason people love cracking is not just for the noise, but also for the release of tension. That satisfactory feeling is from loosening the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that build up stress from activities like sitting at a computer all day. Your spinal cord is surrounded by ganglia that send sensory information to your brain, like pain and relief. When your spinal cord receives information about the joint releasing gas, it tells the brain that the muscles are more relaxed, giving you a brief stress relief.
Does cracking help anything?
There are really no benefits or drawbacks from cracking other than being able to take some pressure away for a few minutes.
Is it okay to crack your own back?
Generally, cracking your own back is harmless. It is difficult to injure yourself, unless you have a condition related to bones and joints, because you can feel the pressure you need. Having a friend walk on your back or crack it is not advisable, especially if they are not licensed. A licensed chiropractor, physical therapist, or osteopath know the correct amount of pressure and places to focus on.
If at any point cracking your back becomes painful instead of soothing, stop immediately and contact your doctor.
Habitual cracking is an issue not on the bones, but on the tendons, muscles, and ligaments surrounding the joints that are stretched too much over time.
As always, every body is different, and you should consult your doctor before introducing anything new into your routine.
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