are inversion tables good for you

Are Inversion Tables Really Good for You?

Inversion therapy involves suspending yourself upside down for minutes at a time to relieve back pain or other ailments.

The theory goes that hanging upside down essentially reverses the effects of gravity on the body and decompresses your spine much like massages would.

Let’s answer the question, “Does inversion therapy using inversion tables actually work?” by first breaking down all their potential benefits and risks.

Do Inversion Tables Actually Work?

Inversion tables have been proven to provide temporary relief to lower back pain caused by the compression of spinal discs, but medical professionals only recommend it as part of a broader treatment program.

Stacey Learning How to Use My Teeter Inversion Table
Stacey Learning How to Use My Teeter Inversion Table

It’s generally accepted that inversion therapy (whether it’s via inversion tables, inversion chairs, or gravity boots) does not provide long-term pain relief.

It’s also not safe for everyone, so if you intend to invest in inversion equipment, you should consult with your doctor first. If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, or glaucoma, you must avoid inversion therapy.

Aside from providing temporary back pain relief and contributing to long-term back pain relief as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan), inversion therapy can also help with sciatica pain ( read about is walking on a treadmills good for sciatica ) and pain caused by kidney stones.

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How to Use an Inversion Table

It’s quite simple. Ideally, you’ll be using an inversion table under a physical therapist’s guidance. If you’re using one at home, you should still have someone else with you in case you struggle to get back up.

  1. Strap yourself – All you need to do is strap yourself into the machine. Double-check that you’re properly strapped in before proceeding.
  2. Tilt backward – Once you have secured your body with the strap, start to tilt your body backward until your head is close to the floor. It’s important not to be leaning all the way back- aim for an angle of 30 degrees, or as close to 30 degrees as you can manage (if you’re older, 10 degrees works fine).man showing how inverted tables are good for you
  3. Hang upside down for a maximum of 5 minutes. When you’re first trying it out, you should only be using the inversion table for 1-2 minutes until you get used to the feeling. Once you’re more comfortable with the inversion table, you can use it for longer periods but never exceed 5 minutes, and you should only be using the table twice per day.
  4. Return to the upright position slowly. Coming back up too quickly could result in even more back pain. You should also be combining your inversion therapy with stretches to generally remain flexible.

Potential Side Effects of Inversion Therapy

Inversion therapy isn’t for everyone. Your body experiences multiple changes while suspended upside down, including a slowed-down heartbeat and a rise in blood pressure. You’ll feel the pressure going to your eyes.

Due to these effects to the body, inversion therapy is not recommended for those with high blood pressure, any type of eye disease, a history of strokes, heart disease, inner ear issues, hiatal hernia, or those who are pregnant.

If you suffer from arthritis, whether it’s in your knees or your hips or both, you could be putting yourself at risk of joint injuries by attempting inversion therapy.

Other Types of Inversion Equipment

Inversion tables aren’t the only equipment used for inversion therapy – there are also inversion chairs and gravity boots. For inversion chairs, the person sits on the chair and straps themselves to it.

The chair then turns them upside down. Its effects are much the same as the effects of the inversion table, but some people prefer chairs, because they apply less pressure to the leg joints.

Gravity boots, on the other hand, are a type of ankle boots that allow you to hang upside down by your feet, usually by a bar mounted in the door frame or on the ceiling.

These tend to be the most popular kind of inversion equipment because they allow for more maneuverability and freedom, compared to something like an inversion chair. There are many kinds of gravity boots available through online stores.

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Other Ways to Alleviate Back Pain

There are several ways to alleviate back pain, and we’ve listed the most common and most effective methods below:

1. Work on Your Posture

Slouching for long periods can worsen existing back pain. This is something everyone who sits at a desk all day should consider.

Sit upright, using the back of the chair as support for your body, relax your shoulders, and have your feet flat on the floor. It can also help to put a pillow between the chair and your lower back.

man demonstrating why are inversion tables good for you

2. Prescription Pain Relievers

If your back pain is so severe that over-the-counter medication isn’t helping, then you may need to get a prescription for something stronger, like opioid painkillers or NSAIDs.

Your doctor may also prescribe muscle relaxants to ease muscle spasms. Don’t forget to inform your doctor or pharmacist of any medication you’re taking. If it contains the same active ingredients, you could be risking an overdose.

3. Physical Therapy

Going to physical therapy will help alleviate back pain through exercises designed to support your core back muscles. It’s all about keeping your spine in proper alignment.

Working on your core consistently is key to preventing future back problems.

4. Ice or Heat

Applying ice or heat can also help with back pain, especially if the pain is caused by a specific injury.

First, you should apply ice multiple times per day for around 20 minutes. After two to three days, you should switch to warm packs or heating pads. This will relax your muscles and increase the blood flow to the area in pain. Warm baths can also help to relax your muscles.

5. Nerve Stimulation

Acupuncture and other nerve stimulation treatments are sometimes included in treatment plans and are usually suggested after all the more traditional methods have failed to provide sufficient relief.

Another nerve stimulation treatment is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which involves electric pulses being sent to your nerves in an attempt to block the signals of pain.

6. Biofeedback

This method uses a machine designed to control your mind and body’s response to pain. This is done by moderating your breathing, your blood flow, your heart rate, and muscle tension.

This method has been proven to be just as good if not better than medication when it comes to alleviating back pain. There are zero side effects, too.

7. Surgery

If none of the traditional methods will work for you, then surgery may be the last resort or the only course of treatment for a particular case. One instance in which this would be recommended is if a disc in your back is bulging and increasing tension on a nerve.

In this scenario, a surgeon would likely recommend surgery (specifically a discectomy) in order to remove some of the disc. They could also recommend a laminectomy, a surgery wherein the affected area is decompressed.

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Conclusion: Are Inversion Tables Really Good for You?

My Own Inversion Table - I Use it Daily!
My Own Inversion Table – I Use it Daily!

Inversion tables can help alleviate lower back pain, but the relief tends to be temporary unless the inversion therapy is part of a wider, comprehensive treatment plan.

There is no evidence to suggest that inversion therapy on its own will lead to long-term back pain relief.

That being said, there are other methods for pain relief that will last, such as nerve stimulation, prescribed medication, working on your posture, and attending physical therapy.

If you are concerned about long-term back pain, consult with a medical professional.