If you've ever cracked your knuckles, then you know how satisfying those pops and snaps can be. And same goes for twisting and popping your back, your neck, and other joints. It can feel relieving, but you've probably wondered if cracking your joints is bad for you. Does this cause health problems? Or lead to arthritis?
You're also not actually "cracking" anything, when you push down on a joint. "The sound you hear is the audible release of gas, mostly nitrogen, from the joint," Dr. Christopher Brown, aka The Back Whisperer tells Bustle. "This gas inevitably re-accumulates over time, producing the feeling of a need to crack. Periodic release of this gas can actually be beneficial to the health of the joint."
So if it feels good to pop your knuckles, go ahead and do it. But when it comes to your back or neck, it may be a good idea to turn to the professionals — especially if you're having pain. "For specific joint therapy you should really seek out a licensed chiropractor to perform therapeutic joint manipulations when and where needed," Brown says. They can do so in a safe and helpful way, that won't lead to any damage.
It's OK to do the occasional back crack on your own, but keep in mind that trying to pop your joints — especially if you twist too far, or ask a friend to do it — can be dangerous, and may lead to some of the issues mentioned below. Here are seven reasons experts say to stop cracking your joints.