Yes, it’s okay to crack your back. When you do this, you aren’t really “cracking” your back. Think of it more as adjusting, releasing pressure, or stretching your muscles. It’s the same thing that happens when you crack your fingers, toes, neck, or other joints.

If you’re just curious how to make your back feel better because you sit, exercise, or use your back muscles a lot, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get into how to crack your back safely, what precautions you need to take, and what causes may require a trip to the doctor.

There are many ways to safely and effectively adjust your back no matter where you are, as long as you have some space to lie or sit. Here are some methods to try.

This routine from GMB Fitness includes stretches that may loosen the lower back.

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  1. While you’re sitting down, bring your left leg over your right leg.
  2. Put your right elbow on your left knee, then rotate your upper body to the left.
  3. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  4. Return to your initial seated position.
  5. Repeat this with your right leg over your leg, turning the opposite way.

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  1. Get down on your hands and knees.
  2. Gradually arch your back, pulling your stomach upward and pushing your back out.
  3. Gradually push your stomach back downward and pull your back inward, letting your stomach hang towards the ground.
  4. Go back to your original position.
  5. Do a set of at least 3 of these, doing 2 sessions daily.

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  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Pull your knee up toward your chest, one leg at a time, and stabilize them as close to your chest as possible with your hands.
  3. Repeat 2 to 3 times per session, at least twice a day.

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  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Raise your knees up so they’re bent.
  3. Keeping your shoulders still, move your hips to one side so that the knee on that side is touching the ground.
  4. Hold this position for ten seconds.
  5. Slowly return your knees to their previous position.
  6. Repeat in the other direction.
  7. Do this 2 to 3 times, at least twice a day.

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  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Bring your feet up towards your butt so that your knees are up.
  3. Lift your pelvis up so that your body is straight from your shoulders to your knees.

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  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Raise your knees up so that they’re bent. Make sure the bottom of your feet are fully flat on the ground.
  3. Flex your stomach muscles so that your abdomen is firm.
  4. Hold this flex for about 5 seconds.
  5. Relax your stomach muscles.
  6. Flex your back muscles so that your back makes full contact with the ground, as if you’re trying to get your navel closer to the ground.
  7. Hold this position for about 5 seconds.
  8. Relax your back muscles.
  9. Repeat the above steps at least 5 times a day. Increase these repetitions as you feel more comfortable with the exercise until you reach 30 daily.

Whenever you try to crack your back, do it slowly, purposefully, and within a safe range of motion. Jerking your back, trying to stretch it too far — or both — can cause injury, such as muscle strains, joint sprains, or bone dislocation.

Do not crack your back and see your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:

  • You’ve recently injured your back and you feel like it’s out of alignment or can’t fully move it.
  • You can’t move your back within its full range of motion or can’t move it at all without sharp pain.
  • You feel persistent pain in your back before, during, or after cracking that doesn’t go away with pain medication.

And cracking your back should feel good. A 2011 study suggests that even just the sound of cracking can make you feel a little better.

If you feel temporary pain when you attempt to crack your back or lasting pain afterward, you might have an underlying condition that needs medical treatment. If this is the case, see your doctor or a chiropractor before you attempt any of these exercises.

Cracking your back properly shouldn’t be painful. See your doctor if you notice any unusual pain when you stretch or adjust your back, especially if it persists long after you’ve stretched.

If you have chronic back pain that stretching or cracking and other non-invasive modalities doesn’t help, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections for underlying inflammation caused by a condition like arthritis.

Arthritis is a common cause of back pain, especially lower back pain, as you get older.

Back injuries as well as arthritis pain can both have much better long-term outcomes if they’re treated early. Improperly treated back injuries can cause back joints or bones to heal irregularly. This can cause you to lose flexibility or mobility.

As arthritis progresses, joint tissues can wear away, making it harder to treat or repair joint damage. See your doctor as soon as possible to avoid some of the more severe complications of arthritis or other back conditions.

Cracking your back every now and then so that it feels fully in alignment or less sore isn’t harmful to your back or to your health in general. It’s also not a problem if you hear it crack during your normal daily activities, such as when you get up from your chair or lean across a table.

But don’t crack your back too often or forcefully. Doing it frequently can cause damage to your joint tissue or cause strains or sprains that can be painful or require surgery to treat.

And if you’re experiencing a lot of pain or soreness over a long period of time, see your doctor or a chiropractor to treat the source of the problem.