A person can chronically crack their neck as much as someone can knuckle crack, a common American habit. There is no real proof that cracking or cavitating, your neck causes significant damage or is dangerous. There is some thought that doing it several times a day isn’t healthy either. With some general understanding of your neck and some willpower, you may be able to learn how to stop cracking your neck. You can begin with stretching to help reduce your neck cracking habits.
How to Stop Cracking Neck
Your Neck Needs Stretching Too
Many people feel the need to crack their neck because the muscles are tight. This is usually an effort to reduce tension and discomfort. Instead of trying to crack your neck, try gently stretching the muscles. This will hopefully alleviate your neck issue and the urge to crack it. Be sure to use steady, slow movements, taking deep breaths during the time. You should hold these stretches for about 30 seconds 3-5 times daily.
Do your stretches during or right after a warm shower for the best results. Moist heat will help to make your muscles supple.
When standing, reach around your back with the right arm to grab your left wrist. Pull gently, while flexing your neck in the other direction. This should draw your right ear to right shoulder, hold for about thirty seconds and then switch sides.
Move Your Neck In All Directions
If you have a stiff neck, you have a poor range of motion. This may be a joint related problem. Instead of trying to crack your neck, you should try moving your head in circles. Over-cracking will simply crack the joints that are already looser, leaving the stiff joints unrelieved. Over time, this can cause a problem of too loose of joints causing instability.
Move your head in circles, clockwise first then counterclockwise. Do this for about 5-10 minutes each direction. There maybe small cracks and pops but try to focus on movement instead of sound.
Pay attention to the main movement of your neck. This means forward flexion, (looking at your feet) lateral flexion (ear to shoulders) and extension (turning your eyes toward the sky). Go as far as possible in each of the four directions about 10x a day. After a short week to two weeks you’ll notice more range of motion, this can negate the need to crack your neck all the time.
Improve Neck Muscle Strength
How to stop cracking neck? Getting your neck muscles strong is important for stability. These muscles help with movement, protection and bone and joint stability. Having weak neck muscles can mean you’ll have a cervical spine that is instable, making it a target for spinal joint cracks. With stronger muscles, you may not feel the need to crack them.
Use elastic exercise bands to tie around your head and something stable. Move a few steps away until you feel tension and then release. Do this for four neck movements; flexion, right/left lateral flexion and extension. Doing these ten times a day will show improvement in strength. After a week or two, you can move to a thicker band for more tension.
You can also see a physical therapist who will show you specific stretches tailored to help your neck.
Improve Sleep Situation
If your neck is stiff, it could be because your sleeping environment needs improvement. There are pillows and mattresses that are too soft or too firm, and these can lead to back and neck issues. Avoid sleeping on your stomach because it can cause your neck and head to twist, irritating the joints.
Consider sleeping on your side with your arms below your head level, keeping your knees and hips slightly flexed. This is the fetal position. Consider an orthopedic pillow for support of the natural neck curves.
Change the Work Environment
You may be performing repetitive motions at work, causing minor injuries. If the problem is work related, you can talk to your boss about switching activities or working positions. Maybe change where the computer is or get a different seat.
Change your phone skills and try the speaker function. If you do a lot of driving, change your seat position. Keep your head resting comfortably on the headrest to reduce tension.
Alternate Your Workout Routine
How to stop cracking neck? Your neck can be getting stressed with your exercise. You may need to take a break to see if you can identify what is causing your neck to stress. If you are working out aggressively, or with bad form, you will see neck discomfort.
Make sure the weights are positioned correctly to avoid cervical joint sprains. Don’t use your head as leverage when doing abdominal workouts because it can strain the neck. Be careful with head movements such as military press exercises, as they can cause neck strain.
Treat Your Neck to a Massage
You may have muscle strain that causes you to want to crack your neck. A deep tissue massage can help with moderate strains, reducing inflammation, muscle spasms and aiding in relaxation. Consider a 30-minute massage that focuses on your shoulder and neck areas. Ask the therapist to go as deep as you can tolerate. You don’t want to overdo it, so a lighter massage may be a better option.
Make sure to drink a lot of water before and after your massage, to help flush toxins, lactic acid and other inflammatory by-products. If you don’t, you may get nauseous or a headache.
Acupuncture May Help
How to stop cracking neck? Try acupuncture. This process involves very thin needles being stuck into specific energy points in your body. This can help with swelling, discomfort and tension. It has been used effectively for a variety of issues for years.
Acupuncture points can give relief to your neck but are located all over the body. Acupuncture is practiced by a variety of professionals including physical therapists, naturopaths, massage therapists, physicians, and chiropractors. It is sometimes used as an auxiliary treatment.
See a Chiropractor or Osteopath
Osteopaths and chiropractors are spinal specialists able to focus on the back and peripheral joints. They can offer adjustments to help reposition neck joints that aren’t aligned correctly. It can be odd, but a chiropractor may help you learn how to stop cracking your neck. This is because they can pinpoint your stiffest joints and help you release them instead of hyper-mobilizing other joints.
A single adjustment may relieve your neck, but you are likely to need a few treatments to get the best results.
Osteopaths and chiropractors may have other therapies for your neck trouble. This may include traction and massage to improve your stiff neck. Make sure you select a chiropractor or osteopath that has a good reputation.