Is it bad to crack your spine or joints?
Waking up to some stiffness on your neck or back. After a few hours of sitting in front of the computer or sitting through a meeting feeling achy in the neck and back. Those are the common situation when it is so tempting just to twist and turn your neck or back and make a soothing ”pop” sound to release the stiffness and tension. Some of you maybe even your young children walk on your back and get it crack. Your neck or back feels slightly loosen for a short period. After a while it tightens up again, you crack it again hoping of the quick relieve. Slowly it turns into a habit and turning your head or turning your back easily causes popping and cracking.
Is it Bad? YES! We are talking about purposely cracking your spine or joints. And do not worry too much if your spine or joints do crack once or twice a day. The cracking sound itself is just the gas bubbles (carbon dioxide) releasing from the joint.
Why is it bad for you?
- Create instability This especially applies to your spine. The level of the spine you are cracking or popping is usually in a hypermobile (too much movement) segment of the spine. The more you are trying to crack your back, these hypermobile segments will become unstable while the restricted and problematic segment will be accumulating more stress. Self-cracking mostly moves the hypermobile joint and is not specific to the root of the problem. Thus, ache or discomfort usually comes back in a few hours.
- Strain your joints or muscle and ligament
At the beginning of building this bad cracking habit where you tried twisting and pushing your spine or joints to its end range of motion can causes injuries to the surrounding muscle, tendons or even ligament. In the long term, it gradually created muscle imbalance, joint instability, and ligament damage. It will also increase the chance of spraining that joint.