According to studies, the average American spends about 9.3 hours a day sitting.  Many of us have desk jobs, and those hours of sitting can lead to sore backs and joints. Maybe that’s why there is something about cracking your back that is so gratifying — it’s almost as if the stretch that invokes the “popping” sound is the key to relief of the tightness and soreness.  However, can cracking your back actually harm you more than it helps?


What exactly happens when you crack your back?

To understand what happens when you crack your back, you need a basic understanding of the anatomy of your back.  The spine runs down the center of your back protecting your spinal cord, which are the nerves responsible for transmitting messages from your brown to all parts of your body.  The spinal cord works in tandem with the vertebrae in supporting more than the half the weight of the body. The vertebrae connects with muscles, ligaments, and tendons throughout your back to make all movements.  When you apply force to your joints, pressure can build up and turn into dissolved gases, mostly carbon dioxide. Doing an extreme stretch make the gases shift and emit a “cracking” sound as they dissipate.


So, is cracking your back bad for you?


Technically, cracking your back isn’t bad for you, but routinely cracking your back is a different story. According to a recent study, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that if you’re feeling pain in your lower back, cracking your back only helps with short-term pain and won’t cause any significant improvements.  If you’re cracking your back to alleviate tension, easy stretches are the way to go — and the results from stretching will outlast a simple popping of your back at your desk.


In conclusion, cracking your back may not cause any major damage to your bones and joints, but if you constantly feel the need to do so, it may be necessary to visit a doctor to determine if you have any underlying, more serious conditions.  As always, CareWell is open seven days a week and extended hours on weekends with a licensed physician to help with all your health and urgent care needs.