How to Crack Your Back?

By Ehren Allen, PT, Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

How to Crack Your Back?

By: Ehren Allen, PT, Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

As a physical therapist that specializes in manual therapy, patients ask “how can I crack your back?” or “is cracking my neck bad for me?” “Cracking your back,” “Cracking your neck”, or self-manipulation is common but not necessarily a healthy option for relieving pressure or pain in the spine.

People who regularly self-manipulate may enjoy the euphoric sensation that occurs due to the endorphins that release when they feel the “crack or pop.” These natural chemicals can become addictive and stimulate your brain to crave a frequent release which may lead to habitual “back cracking.” Over stressing the joints of the spine with frequent self-manipulation may lead to instability and worsening of degenerative or inflammatory issues in the spine.

JOI Treats Scoliosis and Back Pain

Back Pain

Pop or Crack

A “pop” or “crack” may occur when a facet joint in the spine is rapidly separated. Facet joints are encapsulated and contain a viscous substance to lubricate the joint called synovial fluid. When the joint is quickly gapped or separated, there is a rapid change in volume of the sealed joint capsule which expands the synovial fluid. When this occurs, the fluid releases a gas which makes a popping sound. The joint is not “popping back in place” when this occurs. If the joint is irritated a quick separation of the joint surfaces also stimulates movement receptors, which inhibit pain receptors. This process may relieve pain temporarily but there is also risk of irritating or damaging tissues if the pain is due to other issues such as disk problem or sciatica.

Manipulation requires a trained professional who can perform a thorough evaluation to determine the best course of treatment within the scope of their practice. I do not recommend attempting this on your own.

A safer option to relieve pain is to consider gentle ROM exercises in a range of motion that does not increase pain. This stimulates movement receptors similarly to self manipulation, but produces significantly less risk for further injury.

JOI Rehab

Whether you are suffering from back issues, joint pain, or injuries resulting from any type of activity, JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab.


All JOI Physicians, Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists now offer Telemedicine services. These are virtual visits from the convenience of your home. Also, if you feel that it is best to stay in your own home during this time, we can still provide orthopaedic Telehealth services for you. Through the download of the free Zoom app on the your phone, tablet or laptop. Furthermore, our physicians and Telehealth for Physical Therapy can evaluate you and provide the care you need.

  • To schedule a new patient or follow up patient appointment with your MD, please call (904) JOI-2000 or read more here about our orthopedic telemedicine providers.
  • To schedule an appointment for physical or occupational therapy, call any of our 12 Rehab locations

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904) JOI-2000. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

Skip to content