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Is it harmful to crack my own back?

Ask an Expert: Dr. Ted Johnson

Yes, it can be. Although it may feel good at the time, you could be causing damage that may affect you down the road.

Cracking your own spine, or what chiropractors call “spinal adjustments,” should be left to trained professionals such as chiropractors. Here is why:

Your spine is complex. In fact, it’s so complex that chiropractors undergo thousands of hours of training to be able to adjust it safely. The spine can be fragile, and let’s face it, you only get one!

You could damage your nerves. Between each of your 33 spinal bones pass a network of nerves that help your brain communicate with the rest of your body. This is very sensitive tissue and if damaged can have far ranging detrimental effects.

You're likely not adjusting the area that needs it. When a chiropractor examines your spine, they find the areas of dysfunction and work to correct them. Sometimes (quite often, in fact), the area that hurts isn't actually the area where the problem lies. So, if you self-adjust you are likely doing more harm than good.

As an alternative to self-adjusting, it would be better to have a regular routine of gentle stretching and seeing your chiropractor.

Ted Johnson is a chiropractor in Powell River who has been practising for 29 years.

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