Posted by: Tanya Bindl, D. C. | February 21, 2013

Wednesday Myth Buster: You Can Adjust Yourself


Myth:  You Can Adjust Yourself.

You crane your neck and hear a crack.  It sounds much like the type of sound you would hear at the chiropractor… did you just adjust your neck yourself?  The simple answer: no.  In fact, if you are capable of “popping” or “cracking” certain areas of your body or spine, is a clear indication that underlying problems exist.

Now for the more detailed answer.  Chiropractors call the “crack” that is made by moving, twisting, turning, etc. a release.  If you actually pay attention to the feeling of the release and compare it to how you feel after an actual chiropractic adjustment, you will notice that the release has much less impact, is much more shallow-feeling.  The release may feel good initially, but fades quickly, whereas an actual chiropractic adjustment administered by a professional is a very different story.  You feel better for longer and the impact is felt at a deeper level.  There is a difference you can feel between a release and an adjustment.

There is also the fact that what happens during a release is entirely different from what happens when an adjustment is made.  For example, when you press on your knuckles, they will often emit a loud cracking sound. The sound is simply a result of gases in the joints being released.  That is really all that is going on.  The angle and approach of how you press down on your knuckles is random and is not a specific motion with a specific purpose.  The cracking sound itself, as far as research is concerned, does not have any therapeutic benefit whatsoever.  More importantly, when your neck pops or cracks, it is more often than not the segments or vertebrae either below or above the true problem area that are moving.  The segment or vertebrae which are truly in need of a correction stay still.  This puts those segments or vertebrae around the true problem at risk of becoming hypermobile, which can later lead to several instability issues.  This is why many chiropractors will advise you against purposely trying to “crack” certain joints, most notably your neck.

Chiropractic adjustments not only address the real, true problem segments or vertebrae, but adjustments also have therapeutic benefits.  The therapeutic benefits are a direct result of the high velocity and low amplitude stretch of proprioceptive musculature that surrounds the joint.  Therefore, an adjustment is needed – a specific movement administered by a trained and knowledgeable professional – in order for there to be any real, lasting benefit. Simply craning your neck or cracking your knuckles will not result in the same benefits or feeling of a chiropractor’s adjustment.  An adjustment has a purpose and doesn’t just release joint gas – it also corrects a misalignment of joints or of the spine and does indeed stretch the propioceptive musculature surrounding joints.


Thanks for reading!


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