Have you ever moved in a certain way and you’re back cracked? Do you enjoy having your back intentionally cracked? Whichever the scenario, the concept of back cracking is pretty much the same as that of knuckle cracking. That popping sound you hear is not cracking bones but instead gas escaping from the joints. It is an indication of your spinal joint shifting to let trapped gas out.
What causes back cracking?
What exactly happens inside our bodies when or backs crack? Well, the spine sometimes gets out of alignment, causing the joints to swell. These swellings are usually gas pockets comprising of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen. When you back cracks, it is this gas that is usually escaping.
Cracking back mostly occurs if you have been maintaining one position for a long period of time e.g. slumping or hunching all day on your seat. Once you try to bend, move or get up, your back will crack as your spine gets back into its normal position. As you’ve probably noticed, it is impossible to crack the same joint twice in a row. Why? Because it takes time for the gases to accumulate.
Benefits of back cracking
Sometimes back cracking is accidental. However, there are those who enjoy the relief that comes with it and either visit a practitioner to have their backs cracked or even move in certain ways to induce it. What are some of the benefits you stand to gain from a cracking back?
There is some kind of discomfort that comes with stiff muscles and joints pressure. It can even get painful. Once your back is cracked, you feel some form of relief. It is, however, important to note that the relief is only temporary.
Improves range of motion
When you’ve been sitting in one position for long, your back muscles become stiff. Your movement is temporarily restricted and back cracking rectifies that by realigning the spinal joints into their original position.
It is satisfying
Let’s face it, one of the reasons why so many people occasionally enjoy back cracking is because it is so satisfying. There is a sense of satisfaction that just comes with hearing that pop sound and feeling your joints realigning.
Technically, there are no health benefits associated with back cracking but it has been proven to offer temporary relief.
Side effects of back cracking
The good news is that when done occasionally, cracking your back causes no major damage. However, if it becomes a habit, it could lead to the following side effects:
Wearing out of ligaments, soft tissues fractures and tendons surrounding the affected area.
Spine hypermobility – this is where the normal elasticity of the back muscles is considerably reduced.
Reduced ability to return to normal positions after a long period of holding the same position.
Incorrect spinal positioning as a result of continuous cracking of your spine.
If your back builds a high tolerance to back cracking, it could lead to spinal damage. Therefore, in order to avoid any spinal damages, it is recommended that you work on your spinal muscles constantly to make them stronger.
Tips on how to crack your own back
The thing about stiff joints is that it almost always happens at the most inconveniencing times and places. Sometimes the discomfort is so minute that seeing a chiropractor would not be reasonable. What do you do when that feeling of restriction to the back muscles and joints starts creeping up on you? Here are some tips on how to safely crack your own back!
1.Sit in a short backed chair.
You should then slide towards the chair’s edge until its back is touching the affected area. Put your palms on the forehead and slowly exhale. This will lead to your head and shoulders sinking down thus cracking your back.
2.Press on your spine.
Put your hands in the spinal region and place them on top of each other. Press the spine on the highest point your hands can reach and then stretch backwards. The hands will exert pressure on the spine causing a cracking back.
You can assume the following positions to crack your back; slow crunch, child’s pose, cobra pose, leg over leg pose or through an exercise ball.
Should the above tips to crack by ourselves not work, then you should set an appointment with a chiropractor. If not safely done, cracking your back at home can have adverse effects.