Cracking Your Back

Presented here is basic information about cracking your back, the effects it may have on the joints and how to crack your back...
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Sep 11, 2018
The cracking of the back is a movement of our body in which the joints present in spinal region produce a popping or cracking sound after being twisted. The common form of joint cracking is the one in which knuckles of fingers are cracked.
One might have experienced such kind of cracking during a visit to a chiropractor. The chiropractors are concerned with studying the relation between muscles, skeletons and nerves. The basic idea behind this type of treatment is to set the misaligned joints back to their original position. 
However, a lay person wouldn't know how to perform the exact treatment. Still, people crack their back and knuckles out of habit and obviously to obtain some relief from stiff joints. The information deals with different aspects of back cracking and thereby provides with some useful information.
In the process of cracking the back, gases present in synovial membranes of joints are released. The pressure between joints is thus, reduced, and it provides relief. The feeling of stress relief, in most cases is only temporary and the back pain may return again.
How to Crack the Back
The act of cracking the back can be performed in many different positions, however, it is easily done while sitting on a chair. One should hold either side of the chair and stretch the torso until the back cracks.
For example, while holding the right side of a chair with the left hand, one should twist his body to the right side. One can also crack the back in a reclining position. To crack the back in this position, one should lie with the left leg bent and placed on the floor. The right leg should be stretched.
The next step is to stretch the left leg (i.e. the one which is bent) towards the right. The previous action causes a cracking noise of back and thus, releases the tension. Same action can also be repeated with the right leg.
Cracking Your Neck and Back
Man with neck pain after long hours of work
Though the cracking of back and neck provides instant relief, it can also lead to certain health issues. The risk of strokes might increase due to excessive neck cracking. The practice of neck cracking can also result into loss of ligament elasticity. The loss of elasticity causes muscles to work harder and thereby makes them tired very easily. 
Cracking the back while being pregnant is safe only if a professional chiropractor performs it. In case of a back pain, soaking in warm bath is an advisable thing to do. One can also use heating pads for back pain relief.
Back Cracking - Good or Bad
There are many questions that arise in the mind while one is thinking about back cracking: is cracking your back harmful, what effect does it have on the joints, does the spine get damaged due to cracking, etc. One can say that the use of physical pressure on the back, or more precisely, spinal region, as a form of treatment is a debatable issue.
Not many physicians support the idea of cracking the back for providing relief from pain/pressure. According to a paper published in the American Medical Association's journal, twisting maneuvers performed on patients by osteopaths can be successful only in the short term. There is still a certain amount of doubt regarding its effectiveness in the long term.
Generally, people prefer cracking their backs after stressful study sessions, sitting on computer for long hours, etc. However, one should be careful while back cracking, since it may damage the vertebrae.
As per guidelines of the US Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, spinal manipulation for lower back pain can be safely conducted by trained professionals having enough experience. The realignment of vertebrae of the neck and back in chiropractic treatment is carried out with special equipment.
The research on effects of back cracking does not provide decisive or concrete evidence as to whether cracking your back is completely good or bad. One should avoid putting undue pressure on the joints and consult a professional chiropractor for proper guidance.