Find out from a chiropractor, not a layperson or “fitness expert,” why your back cracks during sit-ups and what to do about this annoying and to some people, unnerving response to the exercise.
A personal trainer is perhaps not the best person to explain why your back makes cracking sounds when you do sit-ups.
“Back cracking during sit-ups, or during any activity, is commonly caused by the facet joints gapping or spreading,” explains Dr. Jeff Langmaid, DC, founder/owner of The Evidence Based Chiropractor, LLC, in Tampa, FLA, a research-based marketing and practice growth company that serves thousands of chiropractors across the globe.
“The facet joints are load-bearing joints on the posterior, or the back side, of the spine.
“As they go through their range of motion, they can release gas, causing a ‘pop,’ ‘click’ or ‘cracking’ sound — similar to a knuckle. Most often that sound does not indicate pain, but on occasion, it certainly can.”
So when your back cracks while you do sit-ups, this is normal as long as there is no pain, and it’s nothing to worry about. However, it can be annoying.
Dr. Langmaid explains, “In terms of solutions to eliminate back cracking, one option would be to not extend into that full range of motion, as cracking often occurs when the joint is stretched.
“Occasionally, cracking can be accompanied by pain. Not going through the full range of motion and staying in a safe and controlled range of motion can prevent the joint from fully gapping and reduce the snapping, popping, clicking or cracking sound.
“Additionally, when performing sit-ups, it is imperative to use proper technique. This will allow you to maximize the workout and gain optimal muscle strength without placing too much stress on your spine.”
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.