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.