Popping your Back

Popping your Back

For someone who has been sitting or standing for several consecutive hours, back tension is expected. One way to deal with this tension is to crack or pop the back. Done correctly, cracking your back can be extremely helpful in relieving tension, decreasing pain, easing joint inflammation, and improving your range of motion.

So, what exactly are those cracking sounds that occur when you pop your back? Many people find the noise disturbing and assume that it is unhealthy. The truth is that the noise is just gas being released from between your joints. In the right context and when done correctly, this is not unhealthy or dangerous.

Physical therapists and chiropractors can analyze your back pain and assist you in cracking your back. Here in this video from Carolina Chirocare, you will find some excellent examples of strategies chiropractors often use to crack peoples’ backs.



While it is best for a chiropractor to do it, some people prefer to crack their own back. In this post, we provide some exercises that we recommend for popping your back at home, as well as warnings for back-cracking. For any of these exercises, just because you don’t hear a crack doesn’t mean that it didn’t work. Even if there isn’t a loud noise, trying to crack your back can help:

  1. Sit in a chair with a medium-height back rest. Your shoulder blades should be able to fit over the top of it. With a towel over the back rest to provide extra padding, put your hands behind your head. Slowly lower your head towards the floor. You can adjust your position in the chair if you feel tension in a different area of your back.
  2. Either standing up or sitting without a backrest, put your hands together behind your back. Clench one hand into a fist and wrap your other hand around it. Push up at an angle and allow your back to bend as you push.
  3. Foam roller: Start by sitting on the floor with a foam roller positioned behind you. With bent knees, slowly lean back so that the tense section of your back is resting on the foam roller. Keeping your hands behind your head, slowly lower your head. This should crack your own upper back.
  4. Exercise ball: Start this exercise by sitting on an exercise ball. Walk your feet out until the tense portion of your back is on top of the ball. Staying on top of the ball, move your body back and forth. You can use your hands to push your head up or lower it closer to the floor.
  5. Sitting on the floor, keep your left leg straight in front of you while you cross your right leg so that your right foot is near your left hip. Press your left elbow to the outside of your right knee and look directly behind you. Hold for several seconds. Repeat several times on each side.
  6. Laying stretch: For this exercise, start by lying on your back. Bring both knees up to your stomach as you lift your head upward. Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat several times.

While popping your back can seem like the easy solution, it can have negative effects. Here are some things you need to consider before you pop your back at home:

  1. Gentle and Slow: None of these exercises—or any other back-cracking exercise for that matter—should be performed rapidly or carelessly. Each motion should be methodical and patient. While you attempt to crack your back, even your breathing should be slow and rhythmic. One reckless movement or overextension could cause significant damage to your back.
  2. Understand your pain: if you are feeling significant, consistent back pain, don’t assume popping your back all the time is the solution. Self-prescribing back-cracking when you don’t know the cause of the pain can be dangerous and cause even more damage. Give us a call or visit our office so we can help you determine the problem and find a solution.
  3. Routine Cracking: While cracking your back occasionally to relieve tension can be beneficial, over-cracking can result in more damage. Joint pain and swelling are two problems that often arise as a result of over-cracking.
  4. Stop if you feel more pain: If you are performing any back-cracking exercise and feel a jolt of pain—or any pain that is different than what you were feeling—stop immediately. Continuing could cause more harm than good to your back.

If you are uncomfortable performing these exercises on your own, be sure to schedule an appointment with us. Even if you can pop your own back, let us help you determine the cause and alleviate some of that pain. Call us at 480-986-7246 or schedule an appointment on our website.