Cracking the Back : How to release tension

Cracking the Back, also called joint cavitation, feels fine and refreshing as it helps in releasing tension and increasing the motion. Cracking the back or relaxing the spinal joints of the back is generally safe. But it must be done in under supervision and controlled manner. The cracking within the normal planes of motion of the spine is always helpful.

Extension and rotation of the spine are the movements that generally create the cracking sounds of the small spinal facet joints. Visiting a joint specialist like a chiropractor or osteopath is always a good decision in case of an underlying spinal issue.

Cracking the Back : Process & Safety Measures

  • Using High-Success Methods
  • Trying Low-Risk Exercises
  • Safely Stretching Your Back Muscles

Cracking the Back : Using High-Success Methods

Stretch back over the edge of bed. Achieve more extension is to use the edge of bed as a fulcrum point, It will be placed such that the head dips below the level of the spine. The back position is effective for cracking the mid back primarily. Lying down on back on a bed, with everything above the shoulder blades for extending over the edge. Relax the back and let head and arms slowly extend and bend towards the floor. Breath out entirely while doing it. After each downward motion, hold the position for about 5 seconds and perform a full sit-up to get back to the original position. Take a breath in. Repeat if necessary.

The movement carries a little risk of injuring the spine. Ask a companion to be a spotter to ensure the safety. The movement is best for strengthening the abdominal muscles.

Get “picked up” from behind. An effective method of adjusting the mid back is getting a hug from behind as extending the thoracic spine is easier from the direction. It is assumed that person doing it is strong enough to lift off the ground by a few inches. Instead of using hands, the person lifting can use gravity and chest as they arch back.
Cross arms across the front of body and allow a stronger, taller person to hug from behind and grab elbows for support. After fully exhaling, give a signal to allow the person to lift off the ground while simultaneously squeezing and extending mid back. Maneuver is a little bit if risky for both participants as greater forces on the spines and shoulder joints.

Get a “bear hug.” The general way to crack the mid back is to get a tight hug from the front. An extension is required to release the joints. It definitely helps person performing the hug. The person must stronger and taller than who’s getting it so that to get good leverage. Be careful not to get broken ribs and lung injuries. Stand face-to-face to a person of equal or greater size. Allow the person to hug and have a clasp of hands near the area to crack while relaxing arms at sides. After breathing in and out, give a signal for the person to squeeze harder with hands in a quick thrusting manner.

Don’t get cracking on back on the floor. A technique should only be attempted with adequate training, like by an osteopath or chiropractor. Some laws do prevent health professionals from doing maneuver without adequate training. It is better to talk to a licensed professional.

Cracking the Back : Trying Low-Risk Exercises

Extend spine with help of hands. While slowly extending spine in a controlled manner, reach around the back and put pressure on the area which has the most tension to induce focused extension. The movement needs a little more flexibility, especially from upper body and arms.

Add spinal rotation while standing. The spine tends to have motion from side-to-side than in extension. Rotation tends to be a safer motion. Rotation of the spine can crack areas of back, mainly the lumbar region or low back.
While standing with feet shoulder-width apart for balance and stability, place arms in front of the body to bent at the elbows. Rotate upper body in one direction in a controlled manner, switch and do again on the other side for few seconds. Use momentum by swinging arms. Be careful not to go too far and risk pulling a muscle. Repeat as per requirement.

Use a foam roller. Rolling on firm foam is a good way to massage back and it increases the likelihood of cracking or popping spinal joints, especially in the mid back region or thoracic. Foam rollers are used in physiotherapy, yoga and pilates.

How to Use a Foam Roller. Foam rollers at a sporting goods or big-box store. They are inexpensive and indestructible.

  • Place foam roller on the ground, perpendicular to body.
  • Lie down on back, the foam roller is beneath the shoulders.
  • Put feet flat on the floor, bend knees and lift up lower back as it rolls over the foam in a back and forth manner.
  • Use feet to move body over the foam, so that the entire spine is massaged at least 10 minutes. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Rotate spine while sitting on the floor. Rotate the lower half of spine is to do it while sitting to feel more stable. It is easier to control. Use arms and hands to induce a little more rotation without having to swing body, which is likely a little safer. Sit on the floor with one leg bent at the knee and the other leg extended. Side does not matter as you will have to switch and do both sides a few times. Push with it and rotate torso in the opposite direction with the foot of the bent leg on the ground. Induce more rotation using hands to stabilize. Try to look back over the shoulder as over bent knee. Wear runners to get grip to push with.

Sit in a chair for more leverage. Rotating spine while sitting in a chair is helpful as it helps in grabbing parts of the chair to gain additional leverage and rotation. Spinal joints are required to go slightly beyond normal range of motion to crack. Use a chair to achieve best bet. Sit facing forward on a stable chair Keep buttocks and legs in the same position and rotate in one direction while holding for a few seconds. Take the other direction. Breathe normally. Grab on to the chair to gain more leverage. A wooden chair works best. Lower lumbar spine is the most likely to crack or release in this position.

Do a twisting stretch while lying on back. To crack mid-to-lower back is to lay on back (supine) and use leg / knee as a lever to rotate. Ensure the floor is cushioned or padded for comfort. Lie flat on back on a cushioned floor. Raise a leg to chest while bending at the knee. Pull on the outside the knee towards the floor with opposite hand. It will help rotation in lower back and hips. A chiropractor or osteopath will adjust low back and hips i.e., sacroiliac joints for greater relief.

Cracking the Back : Safely Stretching Back Muscles

Stretch back muscles first. Muscle tension in back is relieved with stretches without making the spinal joints cracking or popping sounds. Over joint cracking may damage the joint tissues. It may accelerate osteoarthritis which is a wear and tear type of disease. The goal is a good muscle stretch. Don’t focus much on achieving cracking sounds.

Guide to Stretching Back Muscles
Do simple stretch 3-5 times daily depending on the degree of tension in back.

  • Lay on back on an even surface with some padding like that of a carpet or a yoga mat for the spine doesn’t get bruised.
  • Bring both knees up to chest with arms until it feels mild-to-moderate stretching within back muscles.
  • Hold it there for 30 seconds.


  • Don’t hold breath. Breathe deeply and exhale while relaxing the stretch.
  • Never aggressively bounce or force motion into spine or other joints so as to cause injury. Slowly rock forward and backward in the position to get a better muscle stretch. Always do it in a controlled and gentle manner.

Stretch back by elongating spine.

A stretch can be done while on knees and facing the floor, similar to a yoga position known as the child’s pose. Again, the goal of position is to stretch the back muscles and the spine, It should not lead to cracking sounds. Avoid twisting or extending the back.
Kneel on a padded surface with buttocks resting on the soles of feet. Bend forward at the waist, walking fingers forward as far, while trying to touch nose to the floor. Hold stretch for about 30 seconds while continuing to breathe. Depending on the amount of tension in the back, try to stretch three to five times daily.
You may feel flexible after trying to extend arms as far forward as needed until you feel the back muscles and spine stretch at least a little bit.

Extend spine while standing. Extension of the spine movement creates a cracking sound. Spinal column has limited motion in this direction. Don’t be aggressive while performing it. Extending back will help stretch back muscles. Feel the pulling in the chest or abdominal muscles. Place both hands behind head and slowly push head backwards for the stomach sticks out. Hold the position for 1020 seconds. Try to do it three to five times daily depending on the tension in the back.

The area of the back to crack is the thoracic region, the part of the spine between shoulder blades. Ensure feet are firmly planted and shoulder width apart to maintain balance and reduce the risk of falling over. Keep eyes looking forward to prevent overextending neck and head backwards. All done in a instructed way, will help you in cracking the back.