Have you ever cracked your knuckles before or pulled one of your fingers or moved your toes and felt a crack or pop?
The sound you hear is just the result of a force of movement being applied through your knuckles or toes.
The sound occurs due to the fact that nearly every joint in our body has a synovial capsule, which contains synovial fluid. Synovial fluid lubricates our joints.
When a force of movement is applied to a joint, the pressure of the contained synovial fluid changes. This occurs quite suddenly, leading to the formation and release of a gas bubble. (1)
So basically, it is just the gaseous release of pressure from within the joint itself that creates the audible ‘crack’.
You might find that this occurs to the joints in your body when they are mobilized or manipulated by a practitioner.
When a practitioner treats your body via mobilisation or manipulation, there is the same formation and gaseous release of pressure within the joint capsule.
Contrary to popular belief, practitioners here at Spinal Symmetry don't just have the ability to “crack” your body just for the fun of it!
The aim of mobilising or manipulating the joints, is primarily to restore joint biomechanics and movement.
What this means is that by manipulating the joints, we aim to return them to a normal functioning position allowing them to move the way they should, which will decrease muscle tension and therefore can reduce pain.
You may be concerned that mobilisation or manipulation can lead to some ‘wear and tear’ or osteoarthritis. People may associate the noise or sound of the ‘crack’ with abrasion, grinding or fracturing taking place within the joint.
To reassure you, none of the above actually occurs and the “pop” or “crack” sound is not associated with any harm.
Now we know what the cracking noise is, the question is do we need the ‘crack’ to have an effect at the joint?
The answer is defiantly not!!
When you receive mobilisation or manipulation to your body the sound of the “pop” or “crack” that may happen is just a sound that may be associated with the therapeutic application of releasing a joint.
The same release of the joint may not cause the gas bubble and make the pop noise, but it is still achieving the desired result of returning correct function to the joint.
Another bonus of restoring these joints to their full potential is to improve the awareness of your joints in relation to space- which means that your brain has a better sense what the joints are doing and how your body is moving and orientated. This is called proprioception. Proprioception occurs when the ligaments that surround the joint stretches, this stretch activates a nerve response to be sent to the brain via the spinal cord. (2) (3)
In the Spinal Symmetry method, proprioception plays a big part in how the Dynamic Therapy (also known as strapping) helps to assist the healing process in the body.
As we have discussed many times, the foundation of the skeletal system resides in the pelvis and hips. The integrity of the pelvis is determined by the optimal balance and alignment of your hips, which can also be seen to represent pillars balancing the primary platform (pelvis) in gravity.
The position of the hip capsules, which are held in place to the pelvis by ligaments is where this proprioception that we spoke of earlier, takes place.
When the hips and pelvis have been balanced and corrected by a Spinal Symmetry practitioner, these ligaments have actually been given a short term proprioceptive input. This gives the brain a short term awareness of where the body is in space.
In order to allow the brain to obtain a longer term awareness, we implement the Dynamic Therapy.
Dynamic Therapy directly communicates with the ligaments of the hips and pelvis- it increases proprioception to these joints.
This communication helps the brain to understand where the body is in space, and helps to correct the tension of the ligaments required for the body to move optimally.
When the Dynamic Therapy is performed nightly and consistently, it helps to facilitate a longer lasting correction of this ligament tension.
It is this that drives the healing process to allow your body’s structure and nervous system to function as it should.
This can create a reduction in muscle tension and reduce pain in a lasting way.
1- Kawchuk GN, Fryer J, Jaremko JL, Zeng H, Rowe L, Thompson R. 2015. Real-Time Visualization of Joint Cavitation. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0119470. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0119470
2- Picker JG. 2002. Neurophysiological effects of spinal manipulation. The Spine Journal. (5):357-71
3- Clark BC , Goss DA Jr, Walkowski S, Hoffman RL, Ross A, Thomas JS. 2011. Neurophysiological effects of spinal manipulation in patients with chronic low back pain. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2011, 12:170