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Self Cracking and Self-Popping The Spine

Self Cracking and Self-Popping The Spine

Self-cracking and popping the spine can feel good but should it be done without professional/chiropractic assistance? We’ve all done it getting up from bed or the couch, lean back, and wait for the sound of the spine cracking/popping. Some even have a friend help pop the spine to get that satisfying feeling. There are proper stretching techniques to follow, but cracking the spine without professional help is not recommended as it could lead to problems or worsen any underlying spinal issues.  

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Self Cracking and Self-Popping The Spine


Self cracking, popping the spine refers to the sounds the neck or back make with certain movements. The joints in the spine contain fluid and gas. When the body moves, stretches can create cracking popping sounds as different pressures are exerted. The sound is known as joint cavitation, is the normal exchange of gases like oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide around the joints.  

Spaces form in the synovial fluid that surrounds the joints. These spaces make an audible sound when the pressure changes/cavitation causing the gases to be released. The gases are naturally present in the body. A doctor of chiropractic mobilizes the joints very carefully through adjustments using their hands or specific instruments to increase the spine’s range of motion and stability. When adjustments and manipulations are not performed by a professional, problems can happen, that can include:

  • Loss of strength
  • Soft tissue swelling
  • Muscle spasms

When it’s done properly and safely injuries are prevented and any issues like swelling and tightness around the neck and spine are also avoided.


Self-cracking performed incorrectly can lead to excessive force bringing the joints to excessive ranges of motion that can potentially cause injury. Individuals need to be careful even when self-cracking as the spine can make sounds for other reasons.

  • Age-related arthritis can generate a crunching type of sound when moving known as crepitus
  • A ligament or tendon can rub over a bone or bone spur, creating different sounds
  • These sounds are usually not problematic, but when they are consistent with certain movements they could cause inflammation and/or pain.
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 Self Cracking and Self-Popping The Spine

Chiropractic Professional Adjustments

The primary reasons most individuals seek chiropractic help are for problems, like pain, tightness, and weakness. Individuals can voluntarily see a chiropractor or they could be referred to one by a different doctor. Doctors routinely work with chiropractors to help patients recover from musculoskeletal injuries and conditions. A chiropractor performs manipulations in a safe, controlled manner. They are familiar with the sounds that the joints make and know they are safe. They usually have a multidisciplinary team that is involved in the management of various musculoskeletal conditions.  

Why chiropractic care is so helpful?

All doctors of chiropractic are trained to diagnose and treat neuro-musculoskeletal conditions. During the diagnosis, the chiropractor will go through the individual’s medical history and conduct a physical exam to determine what treatment plan is best for the individual and their injury or condition. Many are now flocking to chiropractic care to avoid taking pain medications. Scientific evidence supports the health benefits of adjustments for various types of musculoskeletal pain, as well as to improve function and mobility

It is also recommended to work with a chiropractor in addition to other health professionals, like orthopedic specialists and physical therapists. They can help decrease pain, provide increased mobility and stability. If there is a constant need to self crack the back, or are having other issues with pain and tightness, talk with a doctor to see if chiropractic adjustments and manipulation will help. This will ensure that the right diagnosis is made and will help to create the optimal treatment plan to develop a stronger healthier body.

Body Composition

Increasing muscle mass is a recommended way to improve body composition and increase immune system function. Research shows senior adults with a higher skeletal muscle mass have an increased number of immune cells in the blood. This indicates that the muscles and the immune system are connected. When working out myokines or hormone-type proteins are released that strengthen the immune system to help protect and fight diseases. Regular exercise with moderate intensity increases the release of T lymphocytes/T cells improving the body’s immunity. Regular exercise also helps reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Different types of cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases

Improved body composition with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet helps maintain a healthy proportion of muscle and fat mass. The more developed the body’s muscle mass becomes strengthens the immune system and lowers the risk of diseases and various health conditions.  


The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the musculoskeletal system’s injuries or disorders. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP, CIFM, CTG* email: phone: 915-850-0900 Licensed in Texas & New Mexico  


“The audible release associated with joint manipulation.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. MarApril 1995.,released%20into%20the%20joint%20cavity.

“The Prevalence, Patterns, and Predictors of Chiropractic Use Among US Adults: Results From the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.” Spine. Dec 2017.

“Chiropractic Use in the Medicare Population: Prevalence, Patterns, and Associations With 1-Year Changes in Health and Satisfaction With Care.” Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. Oct 2014.