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How To Crack Your Neck

How To Crack Your Neck?

Neck joints do a lot for you. Necks are important in letting you explore the world, save your head from dangers, and score a goal with your header. This pivotal joint allows forward, backwards, and sideways head movement. Thus, the neck falls under the most important joints of the body.

A lot of individuals across the globe are habitual of producing cracking noise by twisting the neck. Neck cracking is common practice. Many do it to get relief from a stiff neck. The vast majority of crackers believe that cracking your own neck helps relieve pain and reduces stiffness.

Recently, it was believed that cracking the neck joints can only have a placebo effect, and no evidence cracking benefits the body. However, recent studies have found that the cracking sound produced during cracking can cause pain relief by triggering a pain-killing pathway.

Modern research suggests that the cracking sound produced activates the release of oxytocin and neurotensin hormones. These endogenous chemicals can prove beneficial in lowering the pain status of the neck. Thus, neck cracking (if done correctly) can help you get rid of neck pain.

But the elephant in the room is “How to crack your neck?” Neck cracks are only beneficial when done in the right manner. Cracking the joints with excessive, abnormal forces or multiple times (in a day) can lead to unwanted consequences.

This article discusses the science behind craking and how you can crack your neck safely.

What Is The Science Behind Neck Cracking?

Many individuals wonder how are the cracking sounds produced on twisting the joints. Some even fear bone breakage caused by this forceful twisting. The truth is that the popping sound you hear on the neck cracking is nothing but an escape of air bubbles trapped in the joints.

Synovial joints have gas bubbles and synovial fluid inside them to prevent friction as the bones glide over each other. The gas can get trapped within the joints, and twisting/bending provides a way to escape. When escaping, the gas (nitrogen, oxygen, or carbon dioxide) produces a popping sound. The production of cracking sound has a stimulatory effect on the production of certain endogenous chemicals in the body.

Is Neck Cracking Safe For You?

An important question to answer before hopping onto the neck-cracking guide is the safety of the activity. Neck cracking can both be a blessing and a curse. It allows you to relax the muscles when done by a physical therapist or a chiropractor. But it can be a dangerous manoeuvre if carried out excessively or with too much pressure.

Can Neck Cracking Lead To Neck Pain?

Cracking the neck correctly will not pose any problems of neck discomfort. However, by bending the neck muscles in abrupt ways, you lie prone to developing cracking complications. Yes, there are chances of developing neck pain as a consequence of abnormal neck cracking. Even improper spinal manipulation has led to negative consequences.

How To Crack Your Neck Safely?

It is critical to stretch your neck properly. Twisting the neck in the wrong way has potential risks. You can safely crack your neck by following these simple steps. You should be standing or sitting upright before cracking your neck.

Warm Up Before Cracking Your Neck

You should relax and loosen your muscles before stretching and cracking your neck. An easy way of doing it is by massaging the cervical area followed by a gentle stretch. Putting your chin closer to the chest (and holding it there for 10-20 seconds) and then viewing the ceiling by pulling back your head can effectively loosen the muscles. Hold the backward position for about 20 seconds. A couple of repetitions of the positions are sufficient for a good cracking.

Properly Hold The Neck

Be sure to pay extra attention to holding the head as you crack your neck. Start by holding your neck in your fingers. Hold the chin in the fingers of your left hand such that a cup (of the fingers) is formed. The thumb should be at the chin level while the fingers touch the cheekbone.

Then, with your right hand, hold the back of your head. Get a good grip while ensuring a comfortable head and neck position. Your grip should be firm but not painful.

Rotate/Twist The Head

Now you can rotate the head in a clockwise direction. Use the fingers to move the chin while with the hand you can gently pull the back of the head. Stretch lightly to the extent that the neck muscles are fully extended. Be cautious as to not overstretch the cervical soft tissues.

You may hear a popping noise on cracking your neck. Some people (mostly experienced crackers) are relieved over the series of cracking noises produced.

Use A Foam Roller To Stretch

A foam roller will not help you with the popping noise lust but can effectively stretch neck muscles, reducing tension. All you have to do is select a flat floor and lie on your back. Put a foam roller under the neck while resting comfortably. Your arms should lie flat on the ground with your head resting on the roller.

Now lift up your back (and hips) while keeping the hands grounded (straight). With the hips and back in air slowly roll your head back and forth. You can feel a stretch in your neck muscles with head rolling. For best neck stretch, keep your head as relaxed as possible.

Be Cautious When You Crack Your Neck

If experiencing pain or other serious symptoms of neck cracking, stop immediately. Continuing neck cracking, even with symptoms, causes more harm. You should also limit the activity if you are habitual of cracking your neck frequently, as overdoing can lead to complications.

Remember to exert only less pressure on the muscles and avoid rapid pulling. Due to the potential risks, many doctors prefer neck stretching over cracking. Immediately stop cracking if you feel pain.

When To Visit A Doctor For Your Neck Cracking Habit?

You can continue stretching in the above-mentioned steps. Pain relief is the desired feeling after cracking your neck, but you should be vigilant to notice any associated symptoms. You should visit a healthcare provider. Serious symptoms that need medical attention include:

  • Neck pain that radiates to the arm
  • Numbness, burning and tingling sensations
  • Crick in the neck
  • Muscle weakness
  • Persistent headaches
  • Balance issues

Pain radiating to the left side may be indicative of a heart attack. If the neck pain is accompanied by sudden chest pain, it should not be neglected. Neck pain radiating to the upper back and left hand is generally due to myocardial infarction.

What Type Of Doctor Can Help With Your Neck Pain And Neck Cracking Habit?

A physical therapist is a medical professional that treats you without advising medications or recommending surgery. A chiropractor is trained to perform spinal manipulation that helps realign the cervical spine to its normal position. Physical therapists are also experienced in diagnosing the underlying problem causing the symptoms. Chiropractic care or supervision of a physical therapist is good for keeping the neck mobility in check.

Complications Of Cracking Your Own Neck

There are multiple complications associated with neck cracking. If you frequently crack your neck, there are greater chances of developing a health issue. Though neck cracking rarely causes serious issues, the possible ones are discussed below:

Strain Of Neck Muscles (Muscle Spasms)

Repeatedly cracking your neck can cause strain of the cervical muscles. Increased muscle tension of the neck soft tissues and muscles attatching to the shoulder blades can restrict your neck movement. A stiff neck can be easily fixed with home treatment, it still can effect your work performance.

Damage To The Blood Vesselsmg

The neck joints house several important blood vessels. Too much force while cracking your neck can injure these vessels. Cervical artery dissection is an issue that arises due to abrupt impulsive force on the neck structures. Damage to the arteries can also lead to blood clotting disorders in the brain leading to stroke.

Instability Of The Neck Joint

If you regularly crack your neck, there are chances that you may end up with weak ligaments. Continous overstretching of the neck ligaments and tendons makes them instable. The condition is called cervical instability and lays the foundation for future neck osteoarthritis.

What To Do If I Experience Neck Pain?

You can adopt different strategies to achieve pain relief. All plans aim to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. The following treatment modalities are effective for people suffering from frequent neck pain or chronic pain of the cervical region.

Conservative management is sufficient in managing pain induced by cracking your neck.

Medications

Painkiller medicines provide temporary relief by reducing localized inflammation. Muscle relaxants and analgesic medicines can be given in combination to reduce stiffness of the neck.

Massages

Massage is a potent way of curing neck pain induced by abruptly cracking your neck. You need to gently massage the cervical spine region. It helps relieve tension of the taut neck muscles and thus brings pain relief.

Sef massage is difficult when suffering from neck stiffness. In such cases, you can take help from a family member or take services from a professional massuese.

Physical Therapy

The most effective way of flushing out paain and tightness is physical therapy. This non-pharmacological treatment helps relieve pressure of the joints and improves blood flow to the muscles. In many cases, physical therapy has also shown to relieve headaches. The hands of a physical therapist release tension of the cervical tissues.

Stretches And Exercises

Gentle stretching of the muscles reduces acute pain and strengthens the spine. You need to pull your neck gently everyday to stretch the neck structures. Approproiate stretching increases the blood supply. It also removes any painful trigger points, thus; making you robust against spasms and twists.

FAQs

  1. How do you crack your neck area?The safest way to crackyour neck is by sitting or standing upright. Hold the chin with your right hand while grasping the back of the head with your left hand. Now gently pull the chin and the head in opposite directions until the muscles are fully stretched. You will notice production of a series of grinding or cracking sounds. You can also stretch your neck using a foam roller but it doesn’t let your crack your neck.
  2. How do I stop my neck from hurting?There ae multiple ways by which you can manage your neck pain. In most cases, the pain is due to muscles spasms. Hydartherapy (hot application) is an effective and simple way of managing neck pain. Medications, massage and rest are home strategies for management. Physical therapy and spinal manipulation works best in cases of spine disorders. You should also improve your sleep environment (choose a right-sized pillow) to prevent neck from hurting.
  3. What happens when a chiropractor cracks your neck?Chiropractors are medical professionals trained to realign the muscles, bones and the spine. When chiropractors crack your neck, trapped gas bubbles are released. These professionals adjust the joints, reducing pain and stiffness and increasing the range of motion and mobility.
  4. Why does my neck crunch when I roll my head?There are can be multiple causes for the neck crunch as you roll your head. The most common cause of this crunching is release of gas bubbles from the synovial joint (neck joint). Another serious cause of neck crunching is ligament damage in the joint. Soft tissues can also be the cause. Tight ligaments can snap whenever you move your head.
  5. Should I sleep without a pillow if my neck hurts?Choosing the right-sized pillow is a difficult task. However, sleep specialists suggest you take a pillow for sleeping. Some even suggest using a more than one. However, if your neck hurts, you can sleep without a pillow to minimize strain of the cervical structures.
  6. Is it OK if your neck hurts?It is not much of a concern if the neck discomfort is due to abnormal sleeping or pulling of a muscle. However, there are certain conditions in which you should get checked asap for your neck ache. You must visit a doctor if the neck hurt develops after a fall. The association of neck pain with numbness, tingling and burning is indicative of nerve issues. There may be a serious underlying problem if the pain radiates to the left arm or back of the chest.

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