Learn the right way to crack your back and ease your back pain
Cracking your back can feel great in the moment, giving you the feeling that you’ve released pent-up tension -- but is it really good for your back? By cracking your back, you likely won’t feel any immediate repercussions, but you risk injuring your back and causing worse problems down the road.
Even though that sensation of popping your back can feel good, doing so will not actually address any underlying issues and could make them worse. If you continue to feel discomfort in your upper back or in your lower back, it is common to visit a local chiropractor for spinal adjustments that can relieve some of your pain, but did you know that a physical therapist can be a great advocate for recovery and relieving pain as well?
How to safely crack your back
A physical therapist can help you with gentle stretches that help strengthen muscles in your back and loosen (or crack) areas that feel tight. Here are a few stretches you can complete at home to safely crack your back and release tension along your spine.
Chair Spinal Twist. Start off by sitting sideways in a chair, this will help you gain leverage for stretching your back. Set your feet firmly on the ground and begin by twisting your torso toward the back of the chair and use it to tighten the stretch. Then move to the other side of the chair and repeat the twist. Be careful not to twist too abruptly on either side as this can cause more stress on your spine.
Rocking Floor Stretch. This stretch allows you to loosen your spinal column. For this one, you will want to lie on a comfortable mat. Holding your knees to your chest, begin slowly rocking forward and backward to feel the stretch on each area of your spine.
The Butterfly Stretch. This is great for stretching your upper back muscles in a controlled movement. For this stretch, you can be seated or standing – whichever is more comfortable for you. Place your fingertips of each hand on the same side shoulder and keep the palms of your hands facing downward. Keep your hands in place and move your elbows toward each other until you feel the stretch in your upper back. Hold this stretch for about five seconds then move your elbows back to their original starting point and repeat.
Rounded Back Stretch. Another upper back stretch -- this one is good for stretching out tight muscles. This is easiest to do from sitting in a chair. Start by stretching your arms out in front of you, then clasp your hands together, letting your palms face outward and away from your body. From this position you will round your upper back, dropping your chin to your chest and reaching out as far as you can. Lean into this stretch and hold for a few seconds.
Low-impact exercises are additionally great for improving your back health. You can also use props such as an exercise ball, foam roller, or chair to push your stretching and offer leverage for cracking your back. Just remember, if you start to feel pain during a particular exercise, do not continue. In that case, it is better to rest your muscles than push through the pain. (This is why working with a physical therapist -- and a customized plan -- is so important.)
Here's an additional resource for cracking your back:
How can you benefit from a PT helping with your back stretches?
One of the best --- and safest -- ways to relieve pain in your back is to get help from your physical therapist. They can help you with your mobility and strengthening your back muscles to recover from your persistent back pain.
Instead of needing to feel the release of popping your back every time you get home from work, your PT can help create a personalized plan for daily stretches that will lessen your pain and treat the underlying cause.
Luna’s on-demand PT offers patients an easy and accessible way to get the help they need to start healing. Luna offers in-person visits and Luna Exercises to track your progress and keep you motivated. Televisits are also available and easy to set up with your physical therapist.