If you always feel like you need to crack your back, it may mean it's time to start strength training. Photo by Getty Images

The Truth About Back Cracking

There are few things more satisfying than a good back crack. But rumors say it can have negative effects on your body—and your dancing.

In truth, research has shown that spinal manipulation done by a practitioner can provide short-term pain relief and better recruitment of your deep spinal muscles. Jessica Davis, a physical therapist in Pennsylvania and lead faculty at the Institute of Clinical Excellence Performing Arts Division, says that it's reasonable to believe that self-manipulation can offer the same benefits.


Still, cracking your back shouldn't always be your go-to reaction. "When a patient feels the need to continuously self-manipulate, usually that means they're hypermobile," says Davis. "So they feel the need to crack their spine, but what they truly lack is that spinal stabilization."

Davis encourages dancers who find themselves cracking their backs repeatedly to incorporate cross-training exercises like planks, dead lifts and kettlebell swings to build up spinal strength. If back pain is persistent, seek out the help of a medical professional to get to the root of the problem.

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Topical Pain Relievers Are the Next Item on Your Dancer Self-Care Supply List

With the stressors of the pandemic still lingering more than one year later, self-care is, rightfully, a priority for everyone right now. But dancers have always known the importance of keeping their bodies and minds as healthy as possible. After all, your body is your instrument, and as we make our long-awaited returns to the studio and stage, finding self-care strategies that work for you will be crucial to getting back up to speed—mentally and physically—with your rigorous performing and training schedule.

Dancers have a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to treating minor ailments like soreness, swelling and bruising. One that's quickly gaining popularity are topical pain relievers, which provide targeted, temporary relief of minor pain. These days, there's more than just your tried-and-true Tiger Balm on the shelves. From CBD lotions to warming gels and patches, finding the product that's right for you can be as difficult as finding the perfect Rockette-red shade of lipstick…but even more beneficial to your dance career.

Read on for our breakdown of some of the most common ingredients to look out for in the topical pain relief aisle.

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May 2021