The concept of manipulating your own spine is about as ludicrous as thinking you can fix your car’s alignment by simply running it into a curb. Nobody in their right mind would ever think that would be a logical solution for a vehicle, yet many think they are able to somehow correct something as complex as a spinal column by racking and cracking every bone that we can!
Countless times have I encountered people who are claiming to be in pain that has plagued them for months, years, and even decades. They proceed to inform me that they have been “cracking my own neck and low back forever.”
My response: “And how is that working for you?” Obviously they are not fixing anything, they’re still in pain!
If you want it done right and if you actually want the problem corrected, leave it to the pros. The person best suited for the job is a doctor of chiropractic who can perform a thorough spinal evaluation and do a complete digital x-ray analysis.
I may additionally ask the patient how they went about figuring out which vertebra was actually the misaligned segment and which were stuck simply due to compensating. Many times the body moves other bones simply to prop up another weakened area that is the true problem.
I may ask which level of the spine they just moved, using what vector, and with what intention or desired outcome. Did they test the spine before and after to make sure the desired effect was achieved?
This usually results in a blank stare and hopefully the realization that although the spine pops like knuckles do, it is much more complex and should be left to a professional. Just like a mechanic should be the one to re-align your vehicle.
Remember this forever: Being able to self-manipulate does not prove that you can adjust yourself, it simply proves that you know how to pop joints.
Many patients retaliate with “well it DOES feel better when I crack it, although not for long.” The reason it feels better is more chemical in nature than it is mechanical. What is happening is that you are only stimulating the release of endorphins, which give the temporary sensation of relief. Thirty minutes later you are back on the self-manipulation hamster wheel. Around and around it goes.
Below is a picture that visually demonstrates what happens when you self-manipulate versus having a doctor of chiropractic assess and actually adjust the spine properly:
Other issues that may arise from self-manipulating is that you can make your spine hyper-mobile over time. People who tend to manipulate themselves do so with reckless abandon and more than likely over 10 times per day (way too much). This can cause ligament laxity and destabilize the spine putting them at higher risks for injury and complications in the future.
Additionally they are manipulating several segments at once whereas a chiropractor will adjust one specific area with a very specific hand contact and a very specific purpose. That is what brings true results which is why patients under regular chiropractic care no longer feel the need to “crack” their own spine.