1)What makes the popping sound?
2)Is it OK to do that to myself?
3)Why does it feel better when I do it?
- How is this different from what my chiropractor does to me?
#4 - How is this different?
The short answer is that it is orders of magnitude different. Imagine you have in your hand a length of chain in which some of the links have rusted together and some of the links haven’t and remain loose. Now imagine shaking the chain in front of you. Which links flex and bend? The non-rusted ones of course, or perhaps the ones that are only lightly fused with rust. To get the rusted ones to loosen you will need specific pressures applied directly to those links.
When you “pop” your own spine you are twisting or torqueing yourself in such a way as to cause something to pop. You have no control over what pops. You are popping the already loose links, or perhaps the lightly rusted ones. In contrast your chiropractor is using his long acquired skills to find the bones or joints that are truly “rusted” or stuck while he leaves the loose links alone. He applies a specific force in a specific direction (adjustment) to break the rust (scar tissue) down and slowly restore motion to the joints that need it. Lightly rusted ones are easy to fix and heavily rusted ones may never get fully loosened.
#3 – Why does it feel better?
Simple. Endorphins. These are your own natural opiates, stronger than morphine. They are released in the joint each time it is popped, whether it needs to be popped or not. When you pop your own spine you are getting addicted to the endorphins, as a high cost (see #2).
#2 – Is it OK to do that to myself?
No! Popping healthy joints is not OK. It will make them even looser which creates its own problem. Loose joints become inflamed causing more pain. Loose joints tear apart the disc cartilage leading to herniated discs. This is not OK. You end up creating more of the very problem you are trying to resolve.
Having said that, is it OK to pop your knuckles. It really doesn’t matter since there are no discs in your knuckles like in your spine. But it is really annoying to those around you.
#1 – What makes the popping sound?
The most common explanation is nitrogen gas coming out of solution when you create a vacuum during the popping action. But there are other sounds that we don’t fully understand the source of. So we are not 100% sure.
If you feel the need to pop your neck or back there is a problem called rust or scar tissue, and more self-popping will only make it worse. STOP THE POP!