Chiropractic adjustments feel so great, you might wish you could do them at home.
But before you figure out how to crack your back on your own, there’s something you should know.
You love the relaxed, limber feeling you get after an adjustment. Cracking your back felt so amazing, you want to feel like that every day!
If you’re like most of our patients, this invariably turns into researching how to crack your back at home to get those same benefits on a daily basis.
Not so fast!
Turns out, there’s a reason why chiropractic care is a $12 billion dollar industry: it’s not a good idea to crack your own back at home.
What Happens When You Crack Your Joints
There is a big difference between a chiropractic adjustment and cracking your back. For starters, nothing actually “cracks” when you pop your knuckles, crack your neck, or twist your spine.
Between joints that move against each other (like your knuckles or knee) is a slippery material called synovial fluid. As you move these joints, pressure builds within the synovial membrane and gas bubbles develop.
What most people call “cracking their joints” is simply the popping of these gas bubbles and there’s nothing inherently therapeutic about it.
During a chiropractic adjustment, on the other hand, your chiropractor is using targeted force to coerce the joints into proper alignment. It is common to hear a “popping” sound during this process, but not necessary to be sure of a “good” adjustment.
5 Reasons Not To Crack Your Back
Cracking your back yourself isn’t quite the same as getting a professional chiropractic adjustment. But is there a way you can learn how to crack your back at home?
Here are five main reasons NOT to crack your back yourself.
1. You’re Not a Chiropractor
Chiropractors study for four years to receive their Doctorate of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree. They take extensive courses in biology, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, genetics, and diagnostic imaging.
They know the “why” behind the techniques they are doing and can properly align your joints without injury.
2. You Don’t Have an Inside Look at Your Body
Sure, you probably think you know what’s causing your pain. But the body isn’t always as straightforward as we like to think. And you don’t have access to the same knowledge and resources as a professional chiropractor.
Different conditions need to be treated in different ways. Unless you know exactly what’s going on inside your body, you won’t be able to effectively heal anything. Chiropractors utilize X-rays and other imaging techniques to get an accurate diagnosis first…before they begin treating you.
3. You Can’t Do Every Technique
Manual adjustments are the foundation of chiropractic care, but that’s not all they offer. And these additional techniques aren’t something you can do yourself.
You can’t perform a medical massage (which is different from a spa massage!) or flexion-distraction on yourself at home. These techniques require specialized equipment and a licensed professional (chiropractor and/or massage therapist) to be done correctly.
4. You Risk Further Injury
Lack of knowledge, lack of equipment, physical limitations…. This is a dangerous combination that will only add up to one thing: injury.
Without knowing what you’re doing, it’s easy to injure yourself further when you try to crack your own back. In addition to muscle strains and misalignment, you could be at risk for hypermobility, a loosening of the ligaments that makes it easier for your joints to slip out of alignment.
The only thing more risky is enlisting others to help you crack your back. Another person doesn’t know what’s “too much” and could easily apply too much force without realizing it.
5. You’re Physically Limited
It may be easy to crack your own knuckles, neck, or lower back, but there are some parts of your body that you simply can’t crack by yourself. Pain in the upper or mid-back? It’s not going to be so easy to find the right angle. The same goes for the hip, knee, or ankle.
Even if you don’t injure yourself, you’re not going to get as satisfactory an experience without a professional’s help.
What To Do Instead
Knowing that you’re not supposed to crack your own back won’t stop it from hurting. Here are some other options for relieving your discomfort.
- Practice better posture to keep your spine and other joints properly aligned. If you work in an office, set up an ergonomic workspace.
- Stretch regularly to keep your muscles flexible.
- Apply hot/cold packs to the area or use a medicated gel, such as Biofreeze, to relieve short-term pain
- Finally, visit a chiropractor or massage therapist to treat the source of your pain.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with your back cracking. The problem occurs when you try to crack it or perform an adjustment on yourself. The human body is a remarkable thing, but it is also quite easily injured, especially if you don’t have the right anatomical training.
If your back cracks while you’re simply stretching or moving normally, that’s no cause for concern. But don’t force your joints to pop just because you’ve grown accustomed to it, either.
Instead, chronic pain and injuries should be treated by a licensed professional, such as a chiropractor or medical massage therapist. (It’s more affordable than you think.)
Besides, even getting a chiropractic adjustment every day isn’t necessary. At Oviedo Chiropractic, we typically recommend our patients with non-complicated issues come back every 3-4 weeks.
Schedule an appointment today to see how we can start you off on the road to pain-free living!