How Bad Is It To Crack Your Own Back?

It might make people who live with you cringe, but let's admit it: Sometimes nothing is quite as satisfying as good back crack. Especially if you spent all day hunched over a laptop or slept in an uncomfortable position, stretching your back until you hear an audible popping noise somehow just set things right and makes you feel like yourself again. But some people — like that roommate of yours who can't stand to hear your spine popping — claim that cracking your own back is a dangerous habit that can cause arthritis, slipped discs, and even stunted growth for those kids who got an early start on their back-cracking habit (per Healthline). Experts say these concerns are overblown. 

"Research shows that there is no link between cracking your own joints on a regular basis and an increased risk for arthritis. You would have to self crack a joint multiple times a day for years to potentially have any negative impact," osteopath Fiona Hooper told Body + Soul. Does that mean it's good for you to crack your own back? Maybe not. "When a body is happy and in harmony, the body doesn't crave this release of pressure," Hooper explained.

What it means if you want to crack your back

Chiropractor B.J. Hardick agreed with Hooper that while back-cracking likely won't cause a serious injury, it almost always means your body isn't in optimal condition. "About 99 percent of the time, when [patients] tell me that they can crack their own spine, I can clearly see that whatever they're doing is not working," he wrote in MindBodyGreen. "If somebody is cracking their own spine or they feel a need to, they are usually subconsciously aware that they have a problem." That problem may relate to your posture or muscle tone, Hardick added. And seeing a chiropractor might help. 

Instead of cracking your own back, yoga poses that stretch your back effectively are a healthier way to manage that frustrating sensation of a stiff spine, according to Medical News Today. Grab your mat and do cat and camel while on your knees, then flip over and make a bridge with your hips. Childs' pose, which is a kneeling back extension, and cobra, in which you are lying on your stomach and extending your chest and shoulders, are also back-friendly yoga exercises to add to your routine.