Turns Out, Cracking Your Neck May Actually Be Good for You

We have all heard cracking your knuckles can give you arthritis, but is that true when it comes to your neck? You may want to reconsider your habits.

Kori Williams - Author

Apr. 16 2024, Published 4:10 p.m. ET

A man cracking his neck against a green background.
Source: iStock

So many of us crack our joints to relieve pain, deal with stiffness, or just because we like the way it feels. The light popping noise it makes may not always be welcomed, but for so many, the pros outweigh the cons. But have you ever wondered how doing this, especially cracking your neck, may affect you in the long term?

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Because popping your joints is so common, many people do it without even thinking about it. But is cracking your neck bad for you or is this a healthy habit to keep around?

If you have any concerns, be sure to ask your healthcare provider or a chiropractor about what is safe for you and your body, as this article is not medical advice. In the meantime, read on for what we know about cracking your neck.

A woman looking down while she rubs her neck.
Source: iStock
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Is cracking your neck bad for you?

According to GoodRx, cracking your neck is safe to do as long as it's only done occasionally and you don't force yourself to do so. If you crack your neck improperly or too frequently, medical issues can arise, including:

  • Hypermobility
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pinched nerves
  • Strokes.

Although having a stroke because of excessive neck cracking is incredibly rare, pinched nerves are painful and can cause numbness in your arms.

If you feel the need to crack your neck throughout the day, speak to your doctor about why this may be the case. Healthline says this could be because the ligaments in your neck have stretched permanently. This would mean you're more likely to develop osteoarthritis or joint deterioration.

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A woman cracking her neck against a tan background.
Source: iStock

Can you get arthritis from cracking your neck?

Ospina Medical says there's no direct evidence that cracking your neck causes arthritis. Plus, people who crack their joints are no more likely than anyone else to develop the condition.

In fact, there are benefits to occasionally cracking your neck, like relieving pressure or pain in a particular area. It can also help with a person's range of motion.

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How can you crack your neck at home?

Per chiropractor John Grandominico, there's a correct way to crack your neck, and you can do it in five steps. He shared these steps with Business Insider:

"1. Take a standing or seated position, with your back straight.

2. Place one hand on your lower back with your palm facing in. Place the other on top of your head, palm down, with your fingers reaching toward the opposite ear.

3. Use the hand on your head to gently pull your ear toward your shoulder. If you're starting on the right side, your right arm should be pulling your right ear toward your right shoulder.

4. Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Then, switch the hand that is on your head and repeat steps 1-4 on the opposite side."

In this method, it's pointed out that to properly crack your neck, you don't need any kind of equipment or tools. Plus, you can do this anywhere. But again, we don't recommend doing this on your own for the first time; make sure to consult with a trusted doctor or chiropractor before trying this.

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A man getting his neck cracked by a physical therapist.
Source: iStock

Can you die from cracking your neck too much?

No, it's not possible to die from simply cracking your neck. However, doing it too often can lead to various medical concerns. The most dangerous of them, a stroke, can kill you; but getting a stroke in this way is very rare. For any concerns about this or the damage cracking your neck could be causing, reach out to a medical professional about them.

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