Is it okay to crack my own back?

Time to shed some light on this common question I get asked as a chiropractor all the time. 

What is causing the popping?
It’s usually from the formation and release of gas that builds up in the joint space.  As you take a joint towards the end of its range of motion a vacuum forms causing the release, which subsequently makes a popping noise. 

Will it cause arthritis?
No.  There is no evidence to show that popping your joints will lead to arthritis.

When is popping your back, neck, or other joints bad?

  1. When you force it.  You certainly don’t want to force a joint into a position, especially the neck.  The neck has a lot of important structures you don’t want to fool with. Every other joint is surrounded my ligaments and other tissue that can become irritated with excessive popping.  Just me mindful. 

  2. When it’s habitual.  When you feel like you need to keep doing something to provide relief there’s probably another underlying issue.  

If popping your own back really helped anything
you wouldn’t need to keep doing it.  

What’s the difference between popping my own back and having a chiropractor do it?
When you pop your own back you’re going for low hanging fruit.  You’re moving joints that you’re already really good at moving. When you get adjusted by a chiropractor it’s typically a novel stimulus to your brain, which has numerous neurologic and pain reductive benefits.  A good chiropractor will also follow up an adjustment with some active movements that help what you felt during the adjustment last.