Inversion Tables – Pleasure or Pain?

inversion tablesInversion Tables are Popular

Inversions tables” is a term that covers a wide variety devices with one common trait – they let you hang upside-down. Some give you the option of several degrees of tilt and others simply let you hang completely vertical. One thing for sure, is that they are very popular as even a quick Google search will attest! The price ranges from around $50 up to several hundred dollars for the most expensive high end models.

How Do You Use One?

All of the inversion table manufacturers have product specific instructions, but most follow the same basic routine.

  1. Decide how much tilt you will use. Most manufacturers suggest starting at very conservative angles until you become accustomed to being inverted. You certainly don’t have to hang fully upside-down! In fact, many people prefer only a few degrees below horizontal. There will be a strap, or catch, that you set to limit how far the table will tilt.
  2. Before you first use the table, you will need to adjust the centre of balance. Obviously some people carry more weight at a particular end of their body and inversion tables work best when they are balanced.
  3. Sit on / lean against the inversion table and place your feet in the ankle restraints. There will be a lever system that lets you securely lock your feet in place so that you don’t slip out while inverted. (Some versions also have a strap or bar system to hold your body securely).
  4. Now lean back and use the side handles to allow you to invert to your desired angle.
  5. Once ready to return upright, slowly pull on the side handles to get there. Most manufacturers remind users to pause at the horizontal position to avoid feeling faint or being dizzy.

What are Inversion Tables Claimed to Do?

By reversing the effects of gravity on your spine, inversion tables aim to allow your vertebrae to decompress. As your body weight stretches your spine, pressure comes off and allows the tissues between the disks to relax, increasing blood flow and relieving pain. In effect, inversion tables are using gravity to apply traction to your spine and associated back muscles.

The main claimed benefit of using these tables is that you will reduce lower back pain. For the majority of people, it seems that these products do help. A common user statement is that the relief is relatively short term, but for people suffering constant back pain, short term relief is often a real blessing. Below are some useful links to reviews:

Are There Any Risks with Using an Inversion Table?

Yes, there are, if, you are susceptible to blood pressure issues. The three main risks are a rise in blood pressure generally, a rise in pressure in the eyes, or a rise in heart rate. While the incidence of these side effects is very low, if you suffer from any related conditions, you would be wise to get the OK from your doctor before proceeding. The manufacturers’ generally advise people to start with only small inclines on their new inversion tables, and work up to greater angles as they become comfortable. Even a relatively slight incline will give significant decompression.

Inversion Tables and Back Pain

There is no doubt that the tractive effect and relief of pressure associated with using inversion therapy does reduce back pain for many people. However, they will not work for all people as the causes of individuals’ pain can vary widely. As with any course of treatment for back pain, we advise seeking expert medical advice before proceeding.

If you are looking for ways to prevent future back pain, or just to counteract the imbalances caused by your daily lifestyle (particularly sitting), an inversion table might be what you are looking for.

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