Inversion Tables: Worth The Money or Do You Just Look Silly?
The infamous inversion table, a good metric to use if things like this work, ask yourself do they have late night infomercials? Yes? Then proceed with a critical eye. So yes, inversion table manufacturers regularly target the shows and channels middle to upper-aged demographics with back pain most likely watch.
Believe it or not, this review won't be bashing inversion tables, it will highlight their strengths, weaknesses, and any possible safety concerns you may have. This will allow you to make the most informed purchase possible.
What are Inversion Tables Doing?
Short Answer they are passively stretching you. By flipping you upside down the point is to reverse the effects of gravity on your body. By lengthening you out as opposed to the constant compression, the theory is that your spine and all the connective and muscle tissue will relax and even allow your discs to reabsorb their fluid, taking the pressure off of nerves. In theory, this should work, it just isn't that simple, unfortunately.
The medical definition of traction is “the application of a sustained pull on a limb or muscle, especially in order to maintain the position of a fractured bone or to correct a deformity.”
So why does hanging upside down for the recommended 10-15 minutes a day not cure us? Why aren't inversion tables absolute home necessities like a stove or refrigerator? Why must we keep using the inversion table to find relief and never really get better? All good questions. First We must understand a Passive Vs Active Therapy
Passive Vs Active Therapy
-An inversion table is a passive form of stretching. It passively stretches the muscles, connective tissues and creates space in the bones. It's a temporary fix, no different than a massage, or chiropractic adjustment. If you leave their office and continue to move improperly, you'll be right back next week or month in the space shape. Think of passive stretching as pulling a rubber band, after being stretched; we return to our usual position rather quickly.
-Is something you are consciously doing. Think sitting or standing tall or making sure your head isn't jutting forward to read this post. To actively get the same result as an inversion table there are a couple of different things you can do. Depending on your fitness level the first and most effective option is to hang, using your grip you will have to keep a certain level of ‘activity' this will build strength in this position.
Inversion Table Alternatives
To actively engage this position, optimally with the feet being off the floor; reach with every muscle in your body trying to touch your toes to the floor, trying to be as long as possible. This is engaging all of your muscles, as opposed to just hanging limp upside down, hoping gravity will pull you into comfort.
We understand that not everyone can hang from something, especially if you're injured or lack the strength.
The next option can be done by anyone and anywhere, lie down on your stomach or back and reach overhead, then as you breathe deeply, imagine your fingertips and toes reaching as far away from you as possible. Focus on that exhale.
Another way is by aligning your body while trying to be as tall as possible. You can do this either sitting or standing. This way all the muscles, ligaments and bones are aligned and working together to hold you in proper alignment, which will strengthen over time. An easy way to do this is with your back up against a wall. You can reach overhead just be sure you don't flare your ribs, this can cause more back discomfort. Then just as before imagine you're getting taller with each and every exhale.
It's always better to strengthen something than to stretch it. Hence the reason why inversion tables are something you will need every day for the rest of your life, they stretch you, they don't strengthen you. BOING goes the rubber band.
Inversion Tables Benefits?
- Short-term neck pain relief
- Short term back pain relief
- Foot strengthening
Inversion Table Risks
Using an inversion table is not without risk: it raises blood pressure, lowers heart rate, and increases pressure in the eye. In some users, it has caused bleeding into the retina. It's also been associated with headache and blurred vision. Don't use an inversion table if you're pregnant or if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or glaucoma or any other eye disease. -Harvard Health
Are Inversion Tables Cost effective
If you are seriously considering purchasing an inversion table you would be better off finding a chiropractor or physical therapist who is well versed in traction, or even uses inversion therapy as a short term means to relieve tension and pain. The point is to get better, an inversion table won't help you do that. Like our rubber band, it will pull you for a short time, and then ultimately you will revert back to your original pain and posture.
The only true way to Fix Your Body is to make your everyday position, one that doesn't hurt. If you're buying an inversion table, cervical pillows, orthotics, or any other gimmicky posture item you are essentially putting your symptoms in a can and kicking them down the road to find them later. As stated above you can create the same effect of an inversion table by actively standing, sitting or lying tall. All of which will highly increase your chances of relief, as they actively engage the muscles.
Access to The MoveU Program costs less than an inversion table and the best part is, it won't end up collecting dust in some basement closet or garage. MoveU and its coaches will teach you how to hold and move correctly, and that is something you can take with you anywhere!
Inversion Table Video Review
Written By: David Schroer