Are you considering using an inversion table but have some reservations about it? Perhaps, you’re wondering what exactly it’s meant to achieve and if it will work for you. Those were the kinds of concerns I had and I was glad to find useful information that led me to decide whether to use an inversion table.
Here, I'll share what I've learned. I'll go through some of the advantages, as well as some of the possible downsides. You other concern might be: “Are inversion tables dangerous?” I have included some tips to help you avoid the dangers of inversion table use and to help ensure you reap maximum benefits from it.
Inversion Table Pros and Cons
There are research backed benefits to using an inversion table or chair. Inversion affects every aspect of your body – from providing more oxygen-rich blood for your brain to improving lung function and cleansing the sinuses. Inversion also improves digestion and increases the collagen content of your bone-supporting ligaments. Here’s some more good news about inversion.
History of inversion. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used inversion to ease back pain in his patients nearly 2500 years ago! Even then, health leaders recognized that reversing the effects of gravity can have beneficial effects for spine and muscle health. Inversion has definitely withstood the test of time.
An inversion table soothes back pain. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association published the results of a study titled “Adaptation Tilt Table Lumbar Traction”. The study concluded that after a series of eight inversion table treatments, almost 90% of patients showed improvement in a range of back pain related complaints.
Inversion is an effective non-invasive treatment. Another study, this time conducted by New Castle University (UK), found that by using inversion therapy, just over 75% of the study’s participants who suffered from disc related low back pain, were able to avoid surgery and other invasive treatments.
Athletes benefit too. Inversion therapy can enhance joint health and provide stress relief. Many endurance athletes use inversion to aid the return to blood from the legs, helping recovery. Many athletes also use inversion tables for core strengthening exercises. Read here for a breakdown of my favorite inversion table exercises and stretches.
Inversion can help to detoxify your body. Lymph circulates in the body pretty much in the same way as blood does. Its functions are to protect you against illness and to flush toxic substances out of the body. Inversion promotes lymph circulation by decompressing the spine and rehydrating the discs between the vertebrae.
The inversion table and inversion therapy, in general, pose little threat to the average person. But you should always seek medical advice before you begin to use inversion therapy. Remember, I'm just a guy who likes wellness and has used inversion successfully. I'm not your doctor or qualified to give medical advice, so ask your doctor first.
The Cons And Dangers
There are cases in which pre-existing medical conditions require that you get guidance on using the table. In other cases, the benefits of the therapy are outweighed by the risks.
Traction can lead to pulled muscles. Depending on your level of fitness and what you attempt to do on the table, there is the danger that over-exertion might cause you to pull a muscle.
Inversion can increase pressure in the eyes. Anyone who is suffering from glaucoma, conjunctivitis or retinal detachment should not invert. This can have serious consequences including blindness!
Hernias may be worsened. The stretching action can cause complications if you have either a hiatal and ventral hernia.
In full inversion your ankles feel the strain. Our ankles are not design to bear the full weight of our bodies. For some persons and in cases where the table provides insufficient ankle support, the result may be pain in the ankles, lower legs and knees. The same goes for hips and knees to a lesser extent.
People who should avoid inversion include women who are pregnant, anyone who has recently undergone back surgery, people with high blood pressure and certain types of back injuries. Others who should avoid inversion, or at a minimum check with their healthcare provider first, include:
- An ear infection
- Surgically implanted supports
- Unhealed fractures
- Swollen joints
If you are using anticoagulants or are obese, then the inversion table may lead to you developing further health problems.
Tips To Stay Safe
There is a tendency to think that the longer you invert on the table, the better. This is not true. As a beginner, 1 to 2 minutes a couple of times per day is fine. Afterwards, as your body becomes more used to inversion, you can do multiple 5-minute stints daily.
2. It isn’t necessary to do a full inversion for inversion therapy to work for you. It is generally accepted that a 60 degree tilt can offer all the benefits you are looking for.
3. Before using an inversion table, research on how to use it, how it will benefit you and what the possible disadvantages are. I provide a step-by-step guide here. Seek out as much expert advice as you can and always consult with your healthcare provider before you begin inversion.
Being suspended with your head lower than the rest of your body has proven health benefits but it is also has risks if you have certain conditions. The dangers of inversion table use can be reduced if you take steps to ensure your safety.
So, if you are wondering “Do inversion tables work?” the answer is “Definitely!” – provided you don't have any of the conditions discussed above. If you do, check with your health care provider first. Remember, the goal is greater health, not further injury. Remember Hippocrates' oath, "First, do no harm." Once you're sure inversion therapy is for you, check out my reviews of the top inversion tables here!