AT NIGHT, I OFTEN CRACK MY BACK TO RELIEVE STIFFNESS AND TENSION. IS THIS BAD FOR ME?
Now and then it’s not harmful, but it can become an issue if you rely on it as a daily fix, says orthopaedic surgeon Dr Armin Tehrany. Let’s break it down.
Our joints are made up of tendons and ligaments, and we have cartilage in between that helps everything move smoothly. When you apply pressure to your joints by twisting or cracking your back, it releases gas (that’s the popping sound you hear). “Cracking daily can cause cartilage to wear out, leading to pain or possibly tendon and ligament tears,” says Tehrany.
Gentle stretching and exercising are both safer ways to relieve tension. A warm shower can also help: once you dry off, slowly bend forward at the waist and hang towards the ground for 15 to 30 seconds. If the tension is centred in your upper back, foam-roll for five minutes a few times a week. Lie on your back with feet flat, knees bent at 90 degrees and the roller placed underneath your shoulders, perpendicular to the body. Lift your bum and wrap your arms like you’re giving yourself a tight hug. Use your feet to slowly roll up and down. Cracking.