When we think of dangerous TikTok challenges, we tend to imagine teenagers risking their safety for viral fame and attention. Often overlooked, however, are challenges that take the form of health remedies. The latest? A trend that has TikTok users cracking each others’ backs. While participants swear by the challenge’s pain-relieving potential, some medical professionals aren’t so sure the trend is safe.
As noted by Pop Buzz, variants of the back cracking challenge have existed on TikTok since 2020. However, over the past week, a very specific form of the trend involving a “backpack” maneuver has blown up on the platform.
The challenge’s newest form involves two participants. First, one person kneels on the floor and puts their hands on the back of their head. Next, a second person faced away from the camera, interlocks arms with the first person and lifts them, resulting in an audible “crack” sound.
Virtually without fail, TikTokers who try the back cracking challenge have reported that doing so has cured them of back pain.
“I’ve had severe pain for at least 12 hours and it’s GONE,” said one user.
“If your back hurts, please try this!” commented another.
Is the Back Cracking Challenge Safe?
According to HealthLine, while cracking one’s back isn’t inherently dangerous, it does carry certain risks. For example, using too much force or cracking too often could lead to joint strain, swelling or breakdown.
Furthermore, getting your spine cracked by anyone who isn’t a professional increases the risk of injury, according to chiropractor Dr. Michael Van Derschelden.
“That video was hard to watch,” he told BuzzFeed after watching a clip. “This ‘adjustment’ can be very detrimental to the spine because it’s not being performed correctly. Doing exercises like this at home can be very dangerous as it can twist or pull someone’s spine out of place.”
Dr. Van Derschelden further explained that chiropractors possess the proper training to know exactly which joints to adjust. Cracking the wrong areas of the spine can lead to unstable joints. “This is why, when you adjust yourself, usually it gives you no lasting relief, as people usually try to do it again and again multiple times a day. An unstable spine from multiple self-adjustments will result in instability and make you prone to early degeneration and arthritis.”
For more information on the growing trend of dangerous TikTok challenges, check out Parentology’s handy guide here.