When you’ve got a tight or sore back, one of the most satisfying feelings is twisting yourself just right and hearing that “pop” that leads to near-immediate relief. However, is cracking your back safe? The short answer is yes — if done correctly. This article discusses five tips for cracking your back safely at home.
Cracking your back at home is generally safe when performed correctly.
Safe techniques for cracking your back at home include the sitting rotation, knees to chest stretch, standing spiral, and back of chair stretch.
It is best to avoid having another person attempt to crack your back because it may be performed with a poor technique and lead to medical problems.
If you need to crack your back multiple times a day to find relief, you may likely need to seek care from a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of discomfort.
Though you might hear a “pop” or cracking sound, thankfully, nothing is actually breaking when you crack your back. Instead, the sound is the result of gas and pressure being released from the spinal joints when stretched. This release of built-up pressure results in that immediate feeling of relief and comfort, just like you feel after getting a massage that relieves muscle tension.
5 tips for cracking your back safely
Cracking your back at home can be done safely if you use the correct posturing and techniques. Keep reading for five tips to help you ease back discomfort and crack your own back at home. The techniques listed below involve stretching the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that allow a release of gases at the spinal joint. None of these techniques involve a high velocity but slow stretching to achieve the audible pop.
1. Sitting rotation
One of the safest positions to crack your back at home involves what is called a sitting rotation.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of your body. Bend one leg and cross it over the other and then slowly twist your whole upper body toward the bent leg. Your backhand can be placed on the floor behind you for extra support if needed, and the hand closest to your leg can be used to push against the bent leg for a deeper twist. As you twist, you may hear your back pop.
This movement should not hurt, so be sure to stop twisting if it becomes uncomfortable.
2. Knees to chest
For this position, lay on the floor and bring your knees to your chest one at a time.
When you bring your knee to your chest, use your hands to pull your knee closer to your body for a deeper stretch. While this position doesn’t always result in a crack, it can help stretch out your muscles, making it easier to achieve that satisfying crack with another safe position.
3. Standing spiral
Stand up straight and extend your arms out in front of your body.
Slowly begin turning your body from side to side with a slight hip rotation but keeping your feet facing forward at all times. After rotating back and forth a few times, you may get your back to crack at least once or twice.
4. Back of chair stretch
This position is especially helpful if you feel the need to stretch or crack your middle or upper back.
Find a chair with a supportive back piece where your shoulder blades can fit over the top. Sit comfortably in the chair, lace your fingers behind your head, and slowly lean your shoulders back over the top until you hear a crack or feel like you have stretched your back.
The main safety concern with this position is finding a chair that is rigid and will not fall over when you put your weight over the back of it.
5. Non-professional manipulation
It may seem helpful to ask a friend to crack your back for you, but these techniques are often unsafe. They usually involve pushing, walking on, or manually manipulating your back, which can be dangerous if not performed correctly. Therefore, unless your friend is trained in chiropractic medicine, physical therapy, or osteopathic medicine, it is not recommended.
How often can I safely crack my back?
Experts typically recommend limiting at-home back cracking to about once per day. If you need to perform these maneuvers multiple times a day to find relief, you may likely need to seek care from a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause. In these situations, you may need help from a chiropractor, massage therapist, or physical therapist to treat your discomfort.
Risks of cracking your back
Though typically safe if done in moderation and using the above-listed techniques, there are some risks associated with back cracking that you should keep in mind. These risks include damage to the muscles, nerves, or ligaments.
Certain individuals, including those with a history of back problems or those that are pregnant, should avoid cracking their back as they are at higher risk for injury.
Ultimately, while cracking your back at home can be safe, you may want to consider seeking help from a healthcare professional like a chiropractor. If you decide to try it on your own, use these safety tips to limit your risk of injury. Furthermore, as with anything, if you are unsure if it is safe for you, be sure to consult a healthcare provider before trying it.