How Does an Inversion Table Work: A Short Guide to Inversion Therapy

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Many people suffer from back pain from time to time, whether it is age-related, injury-related, from bad posture, or heavy lifting. In fact, a study in 2009 estimated that approximately 80% of Americans would suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives; and that’s just lower back pain.

While some people will run straight to the doctor and rely on pain medication to get them through these episodes, others prefer to seek out alternative therapies. 

One such therapy that springs to mind, in conjunction with back pain, is inversion therapy.

That said, we will take a look at the basics of what inversion therapy is and the principles on which it works, in order to know how does an inversion table work. 

What Is Inversion Therapy

What Is Inversion Therapy?

Over time, gravity takes its toll on your body and can cause your muscles, joints, and bones to squash your spine which can lead to chronic back pain. Inversion therapy is the practice of being suspended or hung upside down, with the intention of experiencing therapeutic benefits. It is a form of spinal decompression, as being hung upside down lets your body experience gravity, the opposite way that it normally would.

Inversion therapy works on the principle that by hanging upside down, your spine is stretched out which opens up the vertebrae, releases pressure from your nerves, relaxes your muscles, and increases circulation. Several minutes of inversion therapy per day is thought to help with the short-term management of back pain.

Potential Benefits

1. Promotes Healthier Spine and Ligaments

Massage and manipulation of the spine are some ways in which we try to decompress the spine, releasing it from the pressures of gravity. Thus, it makes sense that inversion therapy could produce similar results. By releasing pressure off your muscles and stretching your vertebrae, you can have a healthier spine and ligaments.

2. Helps Alleviate Chronic Back Pain

People suffering from disc or joint pain could benefit from inversion therapy due to the decompressing effects it has. Releasing pressure and taking the weight off weight-bearing joints allows them to rest for a short while and may also help to reduce the intensity of muscles spasms

3. Improved Circulation

Gravity makes it a lot harder for your blood to travel uphill and over time, signs of poor circulation can include varicose veins and swollen limbs.

4. Organ Placement

Inversion therapy is used by some to combat organ prolapse as over time, organs can fall out of their proper places. Balancing or hanging upside down is thought to encourage appropriate organ placement.

Types of Inversion Therapy

Potential Risks

You should always consult a doctor before beginning inversion therapy. Hanging or balancing upside down decreases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure. It can also increase pressure on your eyeballs and inner ear.

With such effects, pregnant women and people with conditions like those listed below should avoid inversion therapy:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis or broken bones
  • Obesity
  • Hernias
  • Any ear or eye problems

Types of Inversion Therapy

1. Inversion Tables

Inversion tables are probably the most popular form of equipment for inversion therapy. It is essentially a long table that, after having attached yourself to it, will swivel you from the standing up position to the exact opposite, leaving you in standing up and upside down.

2. Inversion Chairs

Working on the same principle as the inversion table, this is a chair that you strap yourself into so that when it swivels you 180 degrees, you are left sitting and upside down. This puts less strain on your legs but still allows the spine to decompress.

3. Gravity Boots

Gravity boots work slightly different to inversion chairs and tables as they strap to you rather than you to them. You also have to do the hard work in getting yourself upside down.

They are basically a pair of sturdy ankle boots or ankle holsters that have hooks on them. They will normally come with a crossbar as well that secure on a wall or across a doorway which your boots will hang from.

4. Yoga

Upside down yoga poses such as headstands, shoulder stands, and the dolphin pose are also forms of inversion therapy. They don’t need any form of equipment at all, but they do require a lot of practice. 

Physical Therapy Turned on Its Head

How does an inversion table work really all boils down to gravity. By relieving our bodies from the downward pressure of gravity for a few minutes a day, we could potentially have healthier spines, organs, and blood circulation.

Yoga masters have been practicing inversion therapy for many centuries, and with the introduction of inversion tables, the same potential benefits can now be enjoyed by all without the years of practice and dedication needed for advanced yoga. These days, it’s as easy as strapping yourself in and pressing a lever.

An inversion table will gently swing you into the upside-down position until you press the mechanism again to turn you back upright. Just remember to always speak to a medical practitioner first to ensure it’s safe for you to practice.

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