What are the Benefits of an Inversion Table? – Who Should Use One? (November 2021)

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If you’ve been struggling with chronic back pain for a while, you might’ve considered using an inversion table to relieve the muscle tension in your body.

However, did you know that inversion tables aren’t just great for back pain? They’re supposedly effective at treating other health conditions too!

That’s right, hanging upside down actually has tons of health benefits for you! Before you try it out, though, please read this article to learn more about inversion therapy, its effects on your body, and how to perform it safely and properly!

Inversion Table and Sciatica
Benefits of an Inversion Table

Benefits of An Inversion Table

Back Pain Relief

One of the primary purposes of an inversion table is to help with back pain.

Spinal traction is a great way to relax your muscles and decompress your spine so that the pain goes away. Since inversion tables are affordable, non-invasive, and easy to use, they’re very accessible to anyone who wants to try out this type of therapy too!

However, because this isn’t a serious medical treatment, you shouldn’t expect it to solve your back problems quickly (or even fully).

If you’re dealing with severe disorders or recovering from major injuries, it’s best to consult a doctor for more conventional treatment options.

Improved Spine Health

If you’re always sitting at your desk, walking around with poor posture, or carrying heavy objects using improper form, you could actually be damaging your spine!

Fortunately, you can strengthen your spine using an inversion table. In addition, stretching and realigning the bones/muscles in your back will correct your posture and help relieve built-up tension in those areas.

If you do this regularly, you’ll be able to counteract your bad habits!

Increased Body Mobility

Inversion therapy also helps you improve your flexibility.

This is because consistent, targeted physical activity is the best way to loosen up your muscles, increase mobility, and boost blood flow to the rest of your body.

Increased Blood Circulation

Speaking of blood flow, did you know that inversion therapy helps with circulation too?

That’s right, removing gravity from the picture allows your blood to move upwards.

This removes waste from your lymph system, increases much-needed oxygen flow to the brain, and even drains the clots that cause varicose veins in your legs!

Clearly, inversion tables are pretty great for your overall health!

More Muscle Tone and Definition

One cool thing you can do with an inversion table is to integrate it into your workouts.

How? Use the inverted position to challenge your core as you’re working against gravity to perform your crunches and sit-ups.

Inversion therapy is also a great way to loosen up your muscles and prepare them for a grueling workout. Talk about multiple functionalities!!

Reduced Stress Levels

Lastly, inversion therapy is also known to reduce stress and fatigue.

Like yoga and other forms of exercise, using inversion tables can promote the release of endorphins in your body—feel-good chemicals that alleviate anxiety, increase motivation, and boost your energy levels!

If getting relief from your back pain isn’t enough to make you feel better, then this definitely will!

Inversion Therapy

What Is It?

Before we zero in on inversion tables, what is inversion therapy anyway?

Basically, inversion therapy is any technique that involves being suspended at an inverted angle to relieve back pain and strengthen the spine. This gentle force stretches out your spine and helps ease any pressure on it.

One of the most popular applications of inversion therapy or traction therapy is using an inversion table. Still, some people also opt for inversion chairs, gravity boots, yoga practice, etc., depending on their specific needs, lifestyles, and budgets.

How Does It Work?

Now, how does inversion therapy work? Well, it eases the pressure on your spine by creating space in between your intervertebral discs.

Older individuals, people who play high-impact sports, and even those who lead sedentary lifestyles are prone to chronic back pain. (Yup, that desk job isn’t doing you any favors.)

When you’re always in a standing position, constant gravity and poor posture can actually wear down and compress your back muscles. Too much compression along your spine, and your nerves may stop working normally!

To combat this, inversion therapy aims to relax your spine and loosen up your muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

What Are the Health Benefits of Inversion Therapy?

Because inversion therapy helps stretch your muscles and boost blood circulation, in theory, it should bring about the following health benefits:

  • Back pain relief
  • Improved flexibility and mobility
  • Increased spine strength
  • Better posture
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Relief for other conditions such as muscle spasms and sciatica

What’s An Inversion Table?

So that brings us to inversion tables, which are some of the most popular options for people seeking inversion therapy. Here are a few important facts about them:

Key Features

A basic inversion table usually has the following components:

  • Rotating bed
  • A-frame
  • Ankle lock
  • Handholds
  • Height adjustment system
  • Angle adjustment system

These parts work together to give you a safe and comfortable experience on the inversion table.

Some brands may even offer additional features (such as heated pads and massage functionality) to soothe and relax your body!

How Does An Inversion Table Work?

An inversion table uses a height adjustment system and an angle adjustment system to prepare users for inversion.

Once you’re strapped on, the rotating bed will help your body go against gravity and reach certain angles to reduce compression on your spine.

To control the speed and motion of manual inversion tables, you have to use the force of your own body, but motorized options can be operated using a simple remote control. Handy, right?

You should also know that different brands of inversion tables have different limits for inversion angles. For example, some will only allow you to invert up to 30 degrees, while others can go up to 90 degrees.

Who Should Use An Inversion Table?

Most users of inversion tables are those who suffer from chronic back pain (whether that’s chronic low back pain, upper back pain, tight muscles, etc.) and other spinal conditions.

However, inversion therapy has also helped people increase body mobility, reduce stress and fatigue, and improve overall health.

Hanging upside down can actually bring about many health benefits, especially if you don’t get much movement in your daily routine.

Make sure you consult your doctor before using an inversion table because it’s not very safe for individuals with health complications like high blood pressure, heart disease/cardiovascular disorders, and eye problems.

How Do You Use Inversion Tables?

Ready to use your inversion table?

After setting it up according to the package instructions, follow these steps:

  1. Adjust the inversion table according to your height. This will keep you safe and comfortable throughout the whole process.
  2. Next, set the inversion limit. Usually, beginners should start at 20 degrees and slowly work their way up to prevent any injuries.
  3. Position your ankles in between the braces and make sure they’re firmly locked in. This shouldn’t feel uncomfortably tight—make sure your feet won’t slip out while you’re hanging upside down.
  4. Start inverting using your body weight. Remember to move slowly, so you don’t shock your spine!
  5. Stay inverted for a few minutes to relieve any back pain and reduce pressure on your spine.
  6. Once you’re done, slowly move back to an upright position using the handholds or holding onto the A-frame for support.

Note that the steps may vary depending on the specific inversion table that you purchase.

What You Should Know Before Using An Inversion Table

Although there are many benefits of inversion therapy, you should know a few things before going all in.

Like with any physical activity, inversion therapy has to be performed properly so that it’s both safe AND effective for you.

#1 – You Shouldn’t Rush Into It

You got a new inversion table; it feels good, and you’re excited—we totally get it!

But here’s our advice: Take care when using an inversion table the first few times. Trust us. If you shock your body by going too deep, you won’t reap the full benefits of inversion therapy.

Generally, we recommend just leaning back at around 20 degrees first for less than a minute to see how your body reacts. You shouldn’t be feeling any dizziness or pain at this point.

Over time, you can slowly build up to 30, 60, or even 90 degrees and stay there for 2-3 minutes once your muscles are used to the sensation of going against gravity!

Having a spotter next to you can also be helpful in case you get stuck.

#2 – Inversion Therapy Isn’t Suitable for Some Individuals

Unfortunately, inversion therapy isn’t for everyone.

Because this activity involves going against gravity, people with the following conditions should consult a doctor before attempting it:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Acid reflux
  • Glaucoma and other eye problems
  • Bone and joint disorders/severe spinal injuries
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

It’s essential to take care of your body—you might end up doing more harm than good to it, so don’t dismiss this precautionary measure!

#3 – Inversion Therapy Poses Some Risks

As we mentioned, it isn’t suitable for everyone because inversion therapy comes with some risks.

When you’re hanging upside down, these things happen:

  • Blood pressure increases
  • Heart rate slows down
  • Pressure increases in the eyes and ears

These could worsen any preexisting health complications, so please make sure you talk to your doctor before getting on an inversion table.

Remember, you should consider both the risks and the benefits of inversion therapy before you decide to try it out. Take care of yourself!

#4 – Consistency is Important

Just like exercise, consistency is key to getting good results.

While you might feel some pain relief after one session on the inversion table, most people only experience its full benefits after consistently using it.

Start small, but make inversion therapy part of your regular physical routine. After a few months, you’ll probably start to notice the long-term benefits of inversion therapy on your body.

#5 – An Inversion Table isn’t a Magical Cure-All

While using an inversion table does offer multiple benefits, you shouldn’t expect it to be a magic solution for your chronic low back pain or tight muscles.

Inversion therapy takes time, and it also works best when paired with physical therapy and other treatments for pain and/or compression. The effects also vary from person to person, so you’ll have to observe how your body reacts to it.

Medical studies regarding inversion tables also have mixed results, so you shouldn’t solely depend on them to address your back pain.

Choosing An Inversion Table

With all the inversion tables out there, how do you choose the best one? Pay special attention to these qualities:

Durability

The best inversion table has to be extremely durable for safety purposes.

Make sure only high-quality materials were used in its construction so it can safely hold your weight AND last you many years.

Some things to look out for are steel quality, lock/adjustment mechanism designs, and weight capacity. You should also check to see if its parts are all firmly attached to the mainframe.

It might be tempting to get a low-cost option, especially since most insurance companies don’t cover inversion therapy equipment, but remember that it’s YOUR health we’re talking about here!

It’s best to get a quality table to prevent any accidents in the future.

Size and Specs

Before you buy an inversion table, double-check its size and technical specifications.

Make sure it can safely accommodate your height and weight. If you have limited space at home, you should also opt for ones that can be folded and stored compactly.

Functionality

Are you satisfied with basic features, or do you want added functionality in your inversion table?

If you’re after all the bells and whistles, we’d recommend checking out motorized models that boast more advanced technology.

These will definitely cost more, but they’ll help you have a more comfortable experience at the end of the day!

Comfort

Last but not least, make sure your inversion table is comfortable.

The point of inversion therapy is to alleviate your pain, so using an inversion table shouldn’t add to that problem! Ideally, you should test out the product before buying it, so you know how it feels.

Other Types of Inversion Therapy

Besides using tables, there are other ways for you to introduce this type of therapy into your life. We recommend trying out a combination of them to maximize the benefits to your health!

Equipment-Based

Products like gravity boots, exercise balls, inverted chairs, and yoga swings fulfill the same goal.

They help you shift into an inverted position so you can stretch out your spine and reduce any compression.

However, if you have limited space, you should consider more compact options such as gravity boots, which work with existing racks or pull-up bars that you may already have at home.

Yoga Poses

If you prefer to do away with equipment, then committing to yoga practice is an amazing option!

Traditional yoga poses such as Forward Fold, Downward-Facing Dog, Crow Pose, and Headstand Pose are all inversions, so they’ll help soothe your sore muscles.

Yoga is also great at improving your posture, overall health, and mental wellness, so it’s definitely worth trying this out!

Final Thoughts: Are Inversion Tables Worth It?

If you’ve been looking for another approach to back pain relief and spine care, then it’s worth giving these tables a shot. In fact, they’re great supplements to any physical therapy sessions you’re already attending!

Just remember to take care of your body by taking it slow and by getting your physician’s expert opinion before starting a new routine! Good luck, and stay safe!

Dr. Sandra Johnson received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from Cornell University. She then went on to graduate studies at New York University before attending Rice University School of Medicine, where she graduated with an M.D. degree. She completed her training in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for internship and residency programs. Dr. Johnson went on to Harvard University in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, completing her residency program. Dr. Johnson is Board Certified in both Internal Medicine and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.