Is It OK to Have a Friend 'Crack' Your Back?

Dr. Oz has the answer.

Q: Is it OK to have a friend "crack" your back?

Oz says: Don't let them. It's possible for the average person to use too much force, bending your body in ways the joints can't handle and damaging ligaments or disks. But doing it yourself by twisting this way or that is generally OK. When you want your back (or knuckles or neck) cracked, it's usually because you feel extra stiffness or pressure.

Pushing the joint surfaces slightly away from each other allows them to move more, and — craaack! — gives you a sense of relief, says Greg Kawchuk, Ph.D., a professor in the department of physical therapy at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

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"Cracking a joint can become a habit, like biting fingernails," says Kawchuk. "But doing it habitually doesn't seem to cause long-term problems — other than annoying whoever is listening to you."

The "cracking" noise is the sound of gas bubbles moving around the joint fluid.

This story originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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