Do Osteopaths crack joints?

By |2024-02-14T10:30:32+11:00February 13th, 2024|Maintenance, Osteopathy|

You may have heard that Osteopaths crack joints. Someone you know or have heard about. may have been suffering from pain when they tried to move and saw an osteopath who had helped them feel better and restore their normal mobility. The idea of having your joints cracked may cause you to have second thoughts about whether to see an Osteopath for help. It sounds scary! So, to give you a better understanding of whether and when an Osteopath would crack your joints, I’ll outline the answers to that question.

The short answer is sometimes.

The long answer is, it depends on whether you have had good results in the past and how long ago that was. It’s important to determine if in your situation it is appropriate and safe. Osteopaths generally tend to use an addition range of techniques to address issues with stiff joints. There is often a restriction of movement within the joints because of the muscles that control the range of motion of a joint. To effect change within the joints, Osteopaths frequently address the local and regional muscles tensions, flexibility to implement longer terms changes and improvements in your movements, aches and pains. But, before any treatment happens, it is crucial to diagnose what your situation is and perform special tests to work out if the benefits of one treatment are much greater than any side effects.

When is it okay for an Osteopath to crack your joints.

If you have had a thorough examination and treatment by an AHPRA (Allied Health Professional of Australia Board) professionally government registered practitioner or your medical practitioner and felt that it was benefit in the recent past. It helps to have a clear understanding of your medical and health status.

When it is best practice for an Osteopath to not crack your joints.

  • Bone Thinning
  • Old or new neck fractures
  • Risk of diseased neck arteries
  • Risk of erosion of the joints because of arthritis

If you have issues with bone thinning (AKA osteoporosis or osteopenia): this will usually have been diagnosed by a special X-ray by your doctor, have had falls in the last 8 weeks, sudden loss of height which can indicate a spinal fracture and or cancer. Another issue particularly in relation to neck pain and stiffness is if you are experiencing any dizziness, especially when you look up or turn your head for a short or long period. This can be entering the “Russian Roulette” scenario that many people have heard about and make them very concerned about cracking of the neck. The underlying issue that can make cracking the neck risky is arteriosclerosis affecting the walls of the vertebral artery. This causes the thinning tube within which the blood flows through the neck and up to the brain. It is not the sole supply to the brain, but the issue is if there is a blockage of flow within this artery and cracking the joints suddenly releases the clot, it can flow up to the brain. Another scenario is that the wall of the artery is brittle because of the cholesterol deposits. Brutal cracking can tear the lining of the artery. Thankfully, there are tests both in the clinic and diagnostic imaging to work out if there is a compromise in your neck arteries that determine if it is too high risk to do it.

A different set of diseases that may mean that you shouldn’t crack the joints is some forms of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis because the joint between the first and second spinal bones can be compromised by weakening of the ligaments that connect them.

This all sounds a bit scary, but when you have a professional Osteopath taking care of you, you’re in good hands. In our clinic there are less risks because we think of, look for and know when it is too risky to crack your joints and instead, have other methods to deal with the situation.

Alternatives to cracking the joints.

It is important to know that Osteopaths have about 8 main technique types.

If there are too many unknowns, clinic tests show that you are at risk, we can provide alternatives. Besides the neck muscle massage techniques there are other less vigorous and less risky options that we use to free the movement in the neck.

Technique 1 Sub-Occipital Rocking of Both sides at the same time

The first technique is called sub-occipital rocking or springing otherwise known as an articulation or low amplitude and force technique that slowly moves the joints at the top of the neck.

Technique 2 Sub-Occipital Rocking on One Side:

rocking or springing otherwise known as an articulation or low amplitude and force technique that slowly moves one of the joints at the top of the neck at a time.

Technique 3 Muscle Energy Technique for one sub-Occipital Joint at a time:

I refer to this as a “contract, relax and stretch movement” (which Osteopaths refer to as a Muscle Energy Technique) where we momentarily trick the small muscles across and around a joint into relaxation and then provide a small movement to stretch the muscle and move the joint.

I have produced videos to demonstrate these techniques. Please look and if you have any questions, let me know.

Treatment Techniques youtube

For more information on neck pain visit:

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Holiday Preparation

By |2017-10-23T20:02:42+11:00May 5th, 2017|Geoffrey Fong, Maintenance|

A month or so ago, I had an offer to join a group for a week or so of activities in the lovely Freycinet Peninsula area of Tasmania. It was oh so very tempting partly because I had been there before and knew what it could be like. However, for various reasons, I thought it best not to accept. One of the major reasons being that I wouldn’t have enough time to develop the fitness for a multiday backpack and camping walk. There is a saying of the 5 Ps. Prior preparation prevents Poor Performance.

At this time of the year, many people have plans to fly north for their summer holiday or to escape our winter. Now is the time that they come to the clinic as a part of their preparations. So, what are they doing this for?

Reasons include:

  • Getting loosened up to avoid any stiffness on a long flight.
  • Ramping up their fitness for the trip, like carrying their luggage on their backs, playing 6 rounds of golf in 8 days, walking the Cinque Terra or the Camino Trail
  • Keeping supple so that they don’t get a stiff back in a ‘different bed’

So, in many instances they start to get physically prepared 2 – 4 months in advance of their holiday. Much in the same way, if I go on next year’s trek, I’d start walking 4 months or so out to build up the underlying fitness. Three weeks before may be a little late to get a big enough impact.

To make the most of your holiday plans, let’s talk and get the ball rolling.

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Have a Merry Christmas Holiday and a Great Recovery in the New Year

By |2017-10-23T20:03:11+11:00December 17th, 2016|Maintenance|

If your year has been like mine, it’s been a busy year. Please pace yourself and finish the year strongly. Once we get to Christmas, hopefully, you get some time to take stock and get some well-earned rest. Sometimes we need a holiday to recover from our holidays.

If you have time off take a little walk after Christmas Lunch. Get some fresh air. Experiment with some leg stretches in the park. Grab as much sleep as you can. Rest, recover and regenerate. With your festivities, try and add some extra water in between your other drinks.

If you have access to a pool do some stretches while you’re standing there. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Take it easy if you join in with unaccustomed activities like backyard cricket or going into the surf.

It’s Melbourne and that means you need to keep a full wardrobe where ever you travel. Watch the weather forecasts at BOM. If it suddenly becomes cool when you are active. Cover up as soon as you finish so that you have a gradual cool down as opposed to being snap frozen.

Whatever you do have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!

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When should I stretch?

By |2017-10-23T20:03:47+11:00August 24th, 2016|Maintenance|

Clients often ask: When should I stretch? The answer has a number of factors. It is more effective when you are warm. You need to decide which times you can fit into your schedule or routine. How can you combine the two so that it becomes a habit?

In an ideal world, I feel that you will get the best results when you are warm. The muscle fibres are more elastic, stretchy and respond more easily when they are warm. That can be after you have been active and you’ve got blood flowing through your muscles e.g. after some exercise. Another way is to be in a warm environment. This could be inside: a hydrotherapy pool or a very warm room. Hot yoga is an example of using heat to make your stretching easier. If you like to do it outdoors, I generally encourage you to have an extra layer of clothing on. This keeps the heat trapped around your muscles.

After more vigorous exercise like running you are warm. If you are breathing heavily, I take tips from my old football coach. Take the time to cool down gradually. Your body will thank you for it, especially the next day. Keep moving; jogging to start with then walking. The aim is to keep moving the legs so that the blood flows through the muscles of the body. This brings oxygen to them which then helps breakdown and get rid of lactic acid. Be as upright as you can. Get your tracksuit on if you can. This keeps the warmth around your muscles and allows you do give yourself a thorough stretch session.

Some days you might not get the opportunity to exercise or work out. If you want to stretch without having done any exercise, it can be done. You need to be mindful and gentle. This means taking the time to listen in and feel the stretch carefully. This can help avoid tearing muscle fibres and injuring yourself. There is a degree to which very gentle stretching can be a warm up. In the past, when I did Aikido and (less so with) Judo, we wore very thick uniforms. They were warm too. We would stretch to warm up. One of the tips I learnt was to use your breath to help your stretching. You get into your stretch position, bring it on to the point where you can feel the stretch (it should not be painful). Once there, you take a deep breath in. Then as you let the breath out, you do two things: you consciously relax the muscle that you are try to stretch and you move to increase the pull of the stretch.

To make it easy to fit in, I suggest tying it into something that you do regularly. Most commonly, I say base it around the meal times. That way you can have a least three separate occasions. An additional time is just before you go to bed. This has two benefits. The first is that it can help you relax and wind down in preparation for sleep and the second is that it can help make your muscles and joints feel looser when you get out of bed,

If you have any questions regarding stretching, I am happy to assist. Very often, I can help stretching more effective for you by making your muscles looser and more elastic so that it is even easier to do your stretches. You can call me on 03 9888 6877 or for more information visit the website

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