You’ve seen it many times. One friend lies on their stomach and the other friend walks all over their back. Or, you’re sitting in class, and the kid across from you takes his chin and pushes it back towards his shoulder, resulting in a bunch of pops and cracks. People crack their knuckles. They have friends give them a bear hug from behind and lift them off the ground to crack their back. Some people even stick their knee in a friend’s spine and pull their shoulders back to crack their back. These things may feel better temporarily, but they are not good for you in the long run.
If you’ve ever been to a chiropractor, you notice that he cracks your back and neck as well during an adjustment. Common sense would tell you that if a chiropractor goes through extensive education and training to do this for money that you shouldn’t let your friends do it. Bones pop and crack when they shift in certain ways, and the sound you hear is a result of gases released in the synovial fluid of your joint. Once you’ve cracked your neck, back, fingers, etc., you can’t crack them again right away because you have to wait for the gases to return to the synovial fluid.
If you’re someone who cracks your bones a lot, you may notice that you feel the “need” to crack them in order to feel better. However, the more you crack your bones and joints on your own, the more long term damage you’re doing. Think about how people go about cracking their neck or fingers. They bend them backwards, forwards, or sideways in a way they seem like they shouldn’t be going. This is because getting your joints to pop means pulling them out of their normal scale of mobility.
When you crack or pop your back or neck, you’re pulling your ligaments and muscles out of their normal range of mobility. When your muscles are stretched like this it feels better, which is why you have some relief afterward. Your muscles are what holds your ligaments in place, and when you move your body like that, they are stretched, which means the muscles will soon tense up to hold the ligaments in place again.
When your friends manipulate your body like this, they could cause a sprain or strain. A sprain is an injury to your ligaments, and a strain is an injury to your muscles. One wrong move and they could seriously hurt you.
Chiropractors have to go through years of training to be allowed to manipulate their patients. They learn all the different parts of the spine and how to move them without hurting their patient. If you want your back and neck to be treated properly, you should go get adjusted by a chiropractor. These types of appointments can even be covered by medical insurance.