It’s the end of the day and your back is stiff AF. You’re basically walking around like Frankenstein.
So you give it a good crack—and ahhhhh, sweet, sweet relief.
But you can’t help but wonder: Is it bad to crack your back?
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CRACK YOUR BACK?
Our joints are made up of tendons and ligaments, and we have cartilage in between that helps everything glide and move smoothly.
When you apply pressure to your joints by twisting or cracking your back, it releases gas (that’s the popping sound you hear).
Every once in a while, that’s okay, but cracking daily can cause the cartilage to wear out, leading to pain or possibly tendon and ligament tears.
WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF CRACKING YOUR BACK
Gentle stretching and exercising are safer ways to relieve tension. A warm shower can also help—once you step out and dry off, slowly bend forward at the waist and hang toward the ground for 15 to 30 seconds.
If the tension is centered in your upper back, foam-roll for five minutes a few times a week: Lie on back with feet flat, knees bent at 90 degrees, and the roller placed underneath shoulders, perpendicular to body. Lift butt and wrap arms like you’re giving yourself a tight hug. Use feet to slowly roll up and down.
Source: Armin Tehrany, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care