One of the newer trends these days is inversion table therapy.
But what is inversion table therapy? What’s it for? Can anyone do it? And how do you do it? Are there any dangers associated with this treatment?
Inversion Table Therapy is Basically Hanging Upside Down
Inversion tables allow you to hang from your feet, partially or fully inverted.
The treatment is primarily used for people who are experiencing back pain or pain from sciatica, and it has been used successfully for those who may have scoliosis or other back disorders.
The table is designed for people of varying sizes, but it is important make adjustment for your particular height. This allows the table to work with you. For example, if you’re 5 foot 2 inches, then setting the height adjustment at 6 feet can cause problems, particularly when you’re trying to return to upright position.
With an inversion table, you step up on a specialized bar that includes a clamp. Your legs are secured between the foam-covered clamp, basically sandwiching your ankles in place.
If the table is set for your specific height, then you’ll notice that it is well balanced. As you lay back on the backrest, the table will slowly begin to recline. If you raise your arm(s), you’ll notice that the table will respond correspondingly.
Inversion Table Therapy Is Beneficial for Back Pain
Many people today suffer from back pain, either from overwork, injury or stress.
Unfortunately, gravity works against us as well, and can make a small problem much larger.
As we stand (or sit), that gravitational force pulls at our spines, compressing the gel-filled discs between our vertebrae bones. The original design for these discs is to act as a shock absorber for the vertebrae, cushioning the bones and preventing pain.
However, when the discs get stressed beyond what they can bear, they start to bulge, causing pain.
Sometimes this pain can be significant. Bulging discs can become herniated discs and require surgery. (Know anyone who’s had back surgery recently?)
Inversion table therapy allows us to temporarily relieve the pressure on those discs. The table reverses the pull of gravity. Actually, when you’re inverted, gravity is working to help you with your back pain by pulling your spine the other way – stretching, instead of compressing.
When your back is stretching, the distance between the vertebrae increases, allowing those bulging discs to slide back into place, thus reducing, or even eliminating, pain.
Can Anyone Do Inversion Table Therapy?
That’s a qualified yes.
By qualified I mean that you’ll want to check with your doctor first. For example, someone with high blood pressure will need his doctor’s approval before trying this treatment since hanging upside down can actually increase blood pressure.
If you’re pregnant, have a heart condition, require back surgery or are dealing with some other serious medical concern, then you’ll want to check with your doctor also.
Kids always want to try the table (after all, when you were a kid, didn’t you want to try hanging upside down?!?), but they should do so with supervision only.
People of any age have found inversion table therapy to be helpful for back problems.
How Do You Do Inversion Table Therapy?
First of all, it is not required that you hang completely upside down.
You’ll want to have a spotter standing by for your first few treatments with the table.
Many people find that inverting slightly beyond horizontal (head slightly below feet) is plenty to help their conditions.
For your first try, make sure that the table is adjusted for your height and lock your ankles in the clamps. Raise one arm slowly over your head. You can raise both arms at the same time, but you will invert more quickly and you could feel that you are out of control.
There’s nothing wrong with starting slow. There is a strap or chain that is attached to the table to prevent you from going further than you want to. You can set that strap at any position you want.
The blood will rush to your head. This can feel a bit disturbing, but you’ll get used to it shortly. If you get scared, come back up to vertical. Just pull the handhold bars on the sides and you’ll come right up.
Do not hang more than 2 or 3 minutes for your first try. Do not feel that you need to rush into inversion table therapy. It’s better to do 2 or 3 minutes once or twice a day than to overdo it.
Never invert more than 15 minutes, and many people find that 5 minutes a day, regularly, will keep them feeling great.
Some people will twist gently from side-to-side to encourage nerves and discs to loosen up. Others have suggested sit-ups, or small crunches, have helped them also.
Dangers of Inversion Table Therapy
As with anything, care must be used when inverting on the table. The health caveats have already been mentioned earlier, but it is good to bear them in mind.
Inverting can raise blood pressure, so if you suffer from that condition, get your doctor’s approval first.
Also, since gravity is working against your heart now, heart rate can actually decrease. If you’ve had a recent stroke, are dealing with glaucoma, hernia, retinal detachment, injury to your spine, heart disease or disorders of the circulation system, then you’ll also want to get your doctor’s permission.
You’ll want to use the spirit of a sound mind when you look into inversion table therapy.