What do bats, sloths, Yogis and Ninjas have in common? They all like to hang upside down! I know a bat’s poor eyesight and a sloth’s leisurely pace are not what you are after. More worth copying are the mental clarity and physical prowess of Yoga masters and Ninjas. Lately, the practice of inversion has been gaining traction (no pun intended) again. Many people now swear to the benefits of this modality and find inversion tables or chairs an easy way to treat themselves. If this looks like something that might help you, check out our full reviews of the best inversion tables.
What Is Inversion Therapy?
Simply put, it is a form of traction. It is used in orthopedics as a way to mend bones or straighten the spine. It also works to decompress the spine where the disks tend to become squashed together by our weight when we stand or sit. (Ever hear that you are taller when you wake up in the morning than you are at the end of the day? That’s why.)
The positive results from inversion can be achieved through either partial or full inversion. Some of the more physically fit among us can achieve the inverted position without the help of any special equipment. Forms of unassisted inversion include headstands, handstands and the downward dog yoga pose.
But, alas, most of us (me included) need some help inverting. There are gravity boots that let you hang upside down from bars. But these require a lot of strength just to get set up not to mention a really solid bar. They're not really for most of us middle-aged or older folks with back pain.
There are also specially designed yoga swings or hammocks that support your weight as you invert. If you are even more like me and would love the reassurance of some more support and stability, then there are inversion chairs and tables that satisfy our need for some security while turning upside down. They do this while providing us with all the benefits we are looking for.
The Benefits Of Hanging Upside Down
Decreased Back Pain
Many people use this type of treatment as a way to not just ease their back pain, but also to help them avoid the cost, discomfort and inconvenience of back surgery. The benefits go beyond the back and can help the shoulders, neck and legs too. Inversion not only causes traction or stretching of the spine. It also helps to rehydrate the soft tissue discs between the vertebrae. As the discs become plumped-up with fluid there is reduced pressure on the nerves and less chance of you suffering from pinched nerves.
Improved Overall Fitness
The muscles of the core (abdominal and lower back muscles) control the strength of the rest of the body that radiates outward from them. A strong core aids back health, posture, stability and balance. Specific exercises and stretches target these core muscles safely and effectively.
Even at the shallow angle of 25 degrees, benefits of inversion for stress reduction are clear. Being upside down helps to regulate the balance between our feel good hormones and those that lead to stress. Many users report stress reduction with lower levels of anxiety and depression.These effects are as a result of our hormone producing glands experiencing greater blood and lymph flow during inversion. The glands get a greater supply of oxygen and there is greater efficiency in the removal of toxins.
Aids Digestion And Elimination
There is a region of the digestive system where the small and large intestine meet, separated by a valve. During inversion, movement of material through the valve (toward the head) is aided by gravity. The potentially toxic material that might have been stored over time can move into the large intestine and be eliminated from the body. That is one of the inversion table benefits that certainly means a great deal to many of us as we age. Knowing that we are lowering our risks of a blocked colon with cramping and constipation is a good reason to give inversion a try.
Inversion therapy has been the subject of several scientific studies that have proven its many benefits for our overall well-being. Whether as a part of regular yoga exercises or fitness workouts, inversion can improve the outcomes you experience from your efforts. Along with other benefits, it improves circulation, relaxes muscles and eases the discomfort caused by a compressed spine. Ninjas and Yogis have put inversion practices to good use over many hundreds of years. By using an inversion table, practically anyone can experience the benefits of inversion and the improved quality of life that it brings.