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Why you should not purposely ‘crack’ or ‘adjust’ yourself

April 29th, 2021 by
Category: Chiropractic Care Stretches

chiropractor adjusting patient

Are you someone who ‘cracks’ or ‘pops’ their back, neck or other part of your body on purpose? Today, I will talk about what adjustments are, why you may feel the need to ‘crack’ or ‘adjust’ yourself, why you should not do this, as well as what you can do instead!

What is a Chiropractor?

A Chiropractor is a allied health professional who focuses on caring for the nervous system (which consists of the brain, spine and the nerves that exit the spine) and musculoskeletal system (consisting of muscles and joints). As primary healthcare practitioners they provide ongoing comprehensive healthcare and can be seen by the public without a referral from a general practitioner and are doctors of their field.

What is a Chiropractic adjustment?

Adjustments are performed by Chiropractors with the aim to restore movement of a joint and improve function of that joint and the nervous system. By improving the movement of a joint, there is less pressure building up – taking the pressure off nerves that exit the spine, as well as reduce the load on the surrounding musculature.

What are the ‘clicks’ and ‘pops’ that may be heard during adjustments?

The ‘clicks’ and ‘pops’ you may hear during an adjustment is actually just gas being released from a joint, rather than the adjustment itself. While it can be hard to not get caught up with the noises, Chiropractors are aiming to restore movement and improve function of a joint and the nervous system – this can still occur even without the noises!

Why may you feel the need to ‘adjust’ your own joints?

When a joint is restricted,  you may get the urge to adjust it yourself to facilitate more movement and restore function. Sounds good in theory, however, Chiropractors are trained to find the specific areas where the adjustment is needed. Most of the time when we force the adjustment ourselves, we are actually doing so to the wrong joints – it is actually the adjacent joints that ‘click’. You will get that initial feeling of relief, but not long after you will likely have the urge to force an adjustment again. Why? The joint that needs more movement is still an issue and what has happened is that you have put more movement into the adjacent joints, which can lead to hypermobility.

Is it okay if my body ‘clicks’ and ‘pops’ without me trying?

Sometimes, we will hear ‘clicks’ and ‘pops’ in our joints without trying or forcing it. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this unless it becomes painful. However, sometimes it can be your body letting you know there’s a biomechanical issue in the area, so it can be a good idea to see a Chiropractor, especially if it’s concerning you.

Why shouldn’t you purposely adjust yourself or force the movement?

Chiropractic adjustments are very specific to joints that need it, in a particular direction with varying force. Especially with the spine, you are most likely adjusting the joints either side of the joint that is actually restricted. Because the issue (the restriction) still exists, relief is only felt for a very short period of time.

Additionally, Chiropractors spend five years training to ensure their adjustments are not only performed safely, but are actually safe to be done on the individual. When you adjust your own spine or joints and force the movement you are at risk of doing it incorrectly and doing more damage than good. It is best to leave it for the professionals! 

What can you do instead of ‘cracking’  your own joints?

1. Stretch

Stretching is a great way to release some stiffness in your spine without forcing an adjustment yourself. Here are a few easy stretches for the muscles near and around the spine that are a great alternative:

2. See a Chiropractor

Chiropractors have trained for many years to understand the bio mechanics of the human body and to perform the adjustments both appropriately and safely. If you are finding you have the need to ‘click’, ‘crack’ or ‘pop’ your own spine, it can be a good idea to get that checked out by someone trained in the area to ensure you are not doing any harm. We only get one body, and we need to take care of it.

Article written by Dr. Cecily Hendrickson (Chiropractor)


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