Is It Safe To Crack Your Back At Home?

When that uncomfortable stiffness starts to settle into your upper or lower back, you may feel the urge to take matters into your own hands and give your back a crack. And we understand why. When your back is in pain, it's hard not to think about anything else but that satisfying popping sound followed by the sweet relief of better mobility. Though considering our spines are vital to our physical health, it may be worth considering. Is it really safe to crack your back on your own?

First off, we need to understand what cracking your back really means. After all, we're not talking about literally cracking our backs. "'Cracking your back' is a non-clinical term that usually involves a certain maneuver that leads to [a] popping sound," says Charla Fischer, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon at NYU Langone Health, in an Allure article. "The maneuvers can include twisting, bending forward, or leaning backward. The popping sound is the movement of air pockets in joints," she explains.

So is it safe to "crack" your back? To answer that question, you may want to first ask yourself why you are experiencing back pain in the first place. Daniel Shaye , D.C., of Performance Chiropractic in Williamsburg, Virginia explains to Spinenation why this is so important to diagnose.

It may feel good, but it can lead to more pain in the future

"If a joint is hypermobile (moves too much), it might feel good to 'self-crack,' but you'll be making your problem worse," Dr. Shaye says via Spinenation. Adding, "The spine is wired in a way that it's sometimes hard to tell what the pain generator is going by symptoms alone. Having a neutral (and trained) third party evaluate and treat the cause(s) is wise."

We agree visiting a chiropractor would likely be the safest choice to ease back pain. Though you now might be worried about all the years you've cracked your back on your own and what it can do to your health. Orthopedic chiropractor David W. Flatt, D.C., of Northwestern Medicine Integrated Spine Program in St. Charles, Illinois, tells Allure that a history of cracking your back on your own can lead to more pain down the road. "The greatest risk I see is with people that crack their spines too much on their own can create hypermobility of the joints, which could lead to increased pain and predispose them to increased vulnerability at those joints," he says.

It sounds to us that we need to be especially aware of not cracking our backs too often. And if the urge to hear that satisfying popping sound becomes overwhelming, the safest bet would be to make an appointment with a chiropractor you trust to crack your back for you.