As much as we try to remain conscious of it, many of us don’t have good posture and often forget to “sit up straight”. We might start the day off well and sit properly in front of the computer but check in several hours later and our position is more likely to resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
This can lead to an uncomfortable, tight back. So what’s one of the first things we do when we get home? Crack it. On a foam roller, by stretching or even by asking a loved one for a massive bear hug because that “pop” sound coming from our joints usually gives us some super sweet relief.
What makes the “popping” sound?
Joints contain oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide gasses as well as fluid which lubricates the area where the bones meet. When you put put pressure on a joint the tiny gas bubbles in the joint are released, creating a cracking or popping sound.
When the gas bubbles are released, the fluid within the joints lubricates the joint surfaces restoring movement and nerve function. That’s why it feels so good! But, according to experts it actually isn’t safe to be cracking our own backs regularly.
Experts advise against routine joint cracking
New York chiropractor Doctor Christopher Anselmi says cracking your back technically isn’t bad for you, but routinely cracking your back is a different story.
“Cracking or self-adjusting any joint within the body is bad for you if it is done in a habitual manner,” he told Fox News.
“These joints are composed of ligaments, tendons and other soft tissue structures which can wear out over time. Any undue pressure placed on these joints can lead to premature breakdown.”
Victorian osteopath Raissa Anin says the long-term effects of frequent DIY back cracking can be bad.
“In short, it isn’t recommended … if your cracking action crushes your joints together, you are potentially causing wear and tear damage to the cartilage lining your joints,” she wrote in a blog post.
“Wear and tear may lead to osteoarthritis, which is the pathology associated with degradation of cartilage in a joint.”
Cracking “safe” if carried out by professionals
“Many manipulative therapists, such as osteopaths use a cracking technique known as high velocity low amplitude manipulation,” Dr Anin said.
“It uses a short direct thrust to a joint that is bound up to its restricted point at its end range of motion.”
Essentially creating a pocket of pressure which then releases.
“It is generally a safe technique that is used to release pressure at the joint, but also to send … signals to the brain to release restrictions at the joint,” she said.
“A qualified and skilled practitioner will be able to direct the force correctly to provide welcome therapeutic results for the patient.”
Experts agree a spine that is functioning normally has the ability to heal and maintain proper function without relying on constant manipulation.
Cracking your own joints may feel good temporarily, but if it creates long-term structural problems, it’s probably not worth the risk.
If your injured and want to see a home doctor in Sunshine Coast call House Call Doctor at 13 55 66.