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Turning upside down, or inversion, has many benefits associated with it. Over the years, this practice has led to the rise in popularity of inversion therapy.
Inversion increases blood circulation to the brain, helps in improving cognition and curing common headaches, and improves general kinesthesia. However, inversion therapy is not for everyone. If you’re thinking about trying it, you must know that there are risks associated with it.
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How to Do Inversion
There are many ways to do inversion, and inversion tables are the most popular method. Yoga and various forms of exercise also involve inversion, providing therapeutic benefits similar to those you get from inversion tables.
Still, it goes without saying that inversion is not a natural position. Being upside-down changes the way blood is circulated around the body, which causes an increase of blood to the brain.
This simple guide will delve into the physical benefits, mental benefits, and risks associated with inversion, but we recommend that you first seek your doctor’s approval before trying any form of inversion therapy.
The Benefits of Inversion
For most people, being upside down is not a familiar sensation or experience. That’s not surprising, of course. I can’t think of a single everyday activity that requires us to turn upside down. Thus, the experience can be scary, uncomfortable, and disorientating, to say the least.
Despite that, inversion can offer many benefits when done safely. Here are some of the benefits you reap from tilting your body upside down.
1. Increased Blood Circulation
Blood circulation changes whenever you move your body out of its neutral position. That’s true even for simple movements such as raising an arm or a leg, so you can imagine how much your blood flow increases during inversion.
Since blood carries oxygen and important nutrients, activities that increase blood circulation can offer a host of benefits, such as improved cardiovascular health, muscle functions, and cognition.
2. Spinal Decompression
Did you know that we are tallest at the start of the day? That’s true! When we sleep, we rest our body in a horizontal position, reducing the pressure on the spine and allowing it to relax, decompress, and elongate.
It’s easy to forget that we spend all day in an upright position, whether that’s walking about or sitting at a desk. This gravitational pressure gradually causes the vertebrae to compact, which can lead to back pain and poor posture—problems that can benefit from inversion.
3. Promotes Healing
A common method for healing joint problems, such as tendonitis, arthritis, and torn ligaments, is by increasing blood flow to the afflicted area. As mentioned above, blood distributes oxygen and important nutrients to the different parts of the body, and this promotes healing.
As a result, inversion can help speed up healing processes for weak or injured parts of the body, like elbow joints, bicep tendons, rotator cuffs, cervical spine, and more.
4. Improved Proprioception
Proprioception is the ability to sense your own body’s movement in relation to motor control. This is learned naturally over time, especially for everyday processes such as walking and climbing stairs, and quickly becomes second nature.
Inverting can significantly improve proprioception. Through repetitive inversion, it’s possible to develop a greater sense of body awareness, control, and balance, which can be beneficial to you as you exercise, participate in sports, or go about your everyday activities.
5. Improved Cognition
During inversion, blood flow to the brain increases, carrying with it oxygen and nutrients. This improves cognitive functions, such as concentration, decision-making, and problem-solving.
Increased blood flow to the brain can also make you feel more awake and alert. It helps reduce and cure brain fog and common headaches.
So Is Inversion Good for the Brain?
Following on from the above points, the simple answer is that inversion is good for the brain. The increased blood circulation to the brain can help improve cognition, cure common headaches, and fine-tune general kinesthesia.
Inversion results in as many physical benefits, including spinal decompression, healing, relaxation, and, for some people, spasm relief.
To avoid health risks and ensure that your sessions are effective, you must always take safety precautions when performing inversions.
The Risks Associated with Inversion
Inversion is not a natural body position, so it can involve negative side effects if you do it excessively.
We’ve talked about the benefits of increasing blood flow to the brain, but it can also be detrimental. Prolonged inversion can cause lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, and, fainting.
Unstable inversion tables can cause accidents, and not everyone will find inversion tables comfortable or pain-free. The same is true with some yoga poses and other forms of inversion. They can be physically challenging for beginners, leading to muscle strains and/or dangerous falls.
How to Practice Inversion Safely
If you plan on doing inversion therapy, you must first consult a doctor, chiropractor, or training coach. Make sure that your equipment is safe and stable, and don’t rush! Gradually and progressively increase the angle of inversion and the time you spend inverted.
Any method of inversion should not feel uncomfortable, unstable, or disorientating. Inversion exercises should be attempted carefully, with assistance if possible.
If you feel lightheaded or dizzy during a routine, it’s best to stop and take a break until the sensation subsides.
As long as inversion is done gradually and with your doctor’s advice, it’s going to do your brain a lot of good.
Aside from the cognitive benefits you gain from inversion therapy, it can also present numerous physical benefits, like spinal decompression, back pain relief, and muscle relaxation.
If you experience lightheadedness or discomfort during an inversion activity, take a break until the sensation subsides. If it happens every time you do inversions, it’s a red flag telling you to consider another form of treatment or exercise.
Written by Kathleen Langdon – TheHealthPot.com Founder
Certified Personal Trainer (CPT), Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES)
Kathleen, a mother of two, struggled with ongoing weight and health issues. She created this website after she turned her life around. She built Thehealthpot.com to help inspire and motivate others with their fitness goals. Read more about Kathleen here.